Australia has just taken a decisive step towards become an authoritarian state.
Hobart’s Archbishop Julian Porteous and the entire Catholic Bishops Conference are being prosecuted for distributing a booklet supporting man+woman marriage, as defined in the Federal Marriage Act.
They are accused of breaching Section 17 of the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act, which prohibits “any conduct which offends, humiliates, intimidates, insults or ridicules another person” on grounds including sexual orientation and gender identity.
The alleged offence was for the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) to publish a booklet, Don’t mess with marriage, and for Archbishop Porteous to distribute the booklet to Catholics in Tasmania.
The complaint was laid by transgender Greens political candidate Martine Delaney, who has changed from a male to a female and lives in a same-sex relationship with a woman.
Tasmanian’s Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Robin Banks has determined that there is a case to be answered. The leaders of the Catholic Church have 21 days to respond.
The case echoes the prosecution of journalist Andrew Bolt under Section 18C of the Federal Racial Discrimination Act. Both the federal and Tasmanian legislation are similarly worded, where merely to offend or insult someone provide grounds for prosecution.
Sexual libertarians have been preparing a legal pincer to enforce a radical sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) ideology on Australians.
First, when SOGI is written into anti-discrimination law, it becomes illegal to discriminate against people who identify as gay, homosexual, bisexual, transsexual intersex, or with any one of a host of gender identities. Facebook lists around 60 SOGIs. Further, many organisations have been calling on federal and state legislators to provide no exceptions or exemptions for churches and other groups in such laws. Read Who will be Prosecuted?
Second, if marriage is redefined to be the union of any two people, then marriage becomes union of any two people with any combination of SOGIs protected in anti-discrimination law.
Third, once SOGI has been written into law, then it becomes part of the sex-education curriculum from kindergarten to high school.
There are important implications arising from the prosecution of the bishops.
1. This prosecution of the Catholic Bishops is happening despite Marriage Equality and Federal Human Rights Commissioner, Tim Wilson, saying that redefining marriage would do no harm. To the contrary, Martine Delaney’s complaint was laid after the head of Marriage Equality, Rodney Croome, called for complaints to be laid against the bishops for publishing the Catholic Church’s position on marriage.
2. It raises an important question; if Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is to have a plebiscite on marriage, how can the public debate the issue unless the PM’s enabling legislation overrides state anti-discrimination laws in order to guarantee freedom of speech?
3. If people can be prosecuted when upholding present law on marriage, what will happen if marriage law is redefined?
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Catholic Archbishop Julian Porteous and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference are facing prosecution for distributing the booklet Don’t mess with marriage. The booklet does no more than set out a case for man+woman marriage, as defined in the federal Marriage Act.
Section 17 of the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act prohibits “any conduct which offends, humiliates, intimidates, insults or ridicules another person” on grounds including sexual orientation and gender identity.
This attempted prosecution is an attack on freedom of speech.
I ask you, if Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is to have a plebiscite on marriage, how can the public debate the issue unless the PM’s enabling legislation overrides state anti-discrimination laws in order to guarantee freedom of speech?