National human rights charter consultancy head, Jesuit Fr Frank Brennan, will today move to dispel concerns by some church leaders that the charter could entail the introduction of federal religious vilification laws.
Fr Brennan will tell the Australian College of Applied Psychology in a speech to be delivered this afternoon that there is a "credible argument" that religious vilification laws of the kind that already exist in Victoria "unduly interfere with the right to freedom of expression and the right to freedom of conscience, religion and belief," the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
"There are some places the law should not tread," he will say. Victoria's laws resulted in the controversial prosecution of a member of the Pentecostal Catch the Fire Ministries for making negative comments about Islam.
Fr Brennan will say the existence of a national human rights charter will probably prevent religious vilification laws from ever being introduced. This contradicts suggestions being put about by some senior church leaders that a bill or charter of rights would curtail religious freedom.
"It is very doubtful that the broad Victorian religious vilification law permitting Catch the Fire type litigation would be passed by a Parliament constrained by a legislative human rights act."
"The application of the Victorian religious vilification law has hindered rather than helped religious and social harmony," he said. "These laws cannot be administered with sufficient transparency and neutrality."
Rights charter will not lead to vilification law, Jesuit says (Sydney Morning Herald)
Fr Frank Brennan SJ (Wikipedia)
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