The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has thanked the Liberal Party for holding the line on giving the Australian people a voice on marriage at its party room meeting on Monday. Managing Director Lyle Shelton said the rebel Liberal MPs calling on the party to trash its election promise to hold a plebiscite could only muster two other supporters, in what was an extraordinary anti-climax. “How these five men could hold the Government and the nation to ransom with the threat of handing control of the Parliament to Labor and then back down so spectacularly should encourage all Australians who value marriage, freedom of speech and gender normality. It is clear that the campaign to change the definition of marriage without the ascent of the Australian people has very little support among Government members, despite the hype of the past week” Mr Shelton said.

ACL yesterday presented to the Senate a petition of 55,000 signatures calling for a full plebiscite to be held on the issue of the legalisation of same-sex marriage. In addition more than 350,000 emails have been sent by Marriage Alliance and ACL supporters to Coalition MPs calling on the government to keep its promise. “Same-sex marriage was one of the highest-profile issues during last year’s election campaign,” Mr Shelton said. “The potential Liberal floor-crossers are defying the government to break a solemn election commitment to the Australian people. If the Liberal Party cannot provide a pathway to preserving marriage, and gender norms, millions of Australians who support the Marriage Act will have no choice but to look for candidates with the resolve to preserve it.”

Australian Conservatives MP Senator Cory Bernardi said: “What is significant is that 55,000 people are saying ‘where is our voice in the parliament?’ The Coalition has run away from what Australian conservative people represent. The agenda of mainstream Australia has been ­hijacked by a noisy minority. And what these two organisations, ACL and Australian Marriage Alliance (AMA) are now telling the Coalition is ‘do not take our support for granted, there is a credible and viable conservative alternative’.” With the same-sex marriage lobby threatening to challenge in the High Court any moves by the government to pursue a postal plebiscite, the AMA has received legal advice claiming provisions to protect religious freedoms in the same-sex marriage bill proposed by Liberal senator Dean Smith were flawed and could put Australia in breach of international obligations.”

It would also expose faith-based schools that could be stripped of their rights to teach their views of marriage. “The Smith bill fails to recognise the religious freedom rights of celebrants who, though they are not an ordained minister, wish to express their religious convictions in respect of marriage,” the advice says. “This limitation was not recommended by the Senate committee. The Smith bill therefore limits the rights of individuals in a manner that is inconsistent with the Senate committee’s report. On the foregoing basis, and as Australia has ratified the ICCPR, the Smith bill breaches Australia’s obligations in international law.” The analysis warns that schools with religious affiliations would not be protected under the bill.

“While religious ministers are protected, the bill fails to give any protection to the free speech of faith-based schools, or their ­employees and governing members,” the advice says. “There is thus a real question as to whether such bodies will lose the ability to teach their view of marriage. This is because the Smith bill refers to section 37 of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984. Faith-based schools are exempted under section 38 of that act. There is thus a real question as to whether the religious freedom rights of faith-based schools are protected by the Smith Bill.” Institute for Civil Society executive director Mark Sneddon, warned there were holes in Australia’s discrimination regime that would be exacerbated by the legalising of same-sex marriage.

Mr Sneddon called for urgent changes to strengthen religious freedoms, noting that in NSW, South Australia and federal jurisdictions there were no protections for people under anti-discrimination laws on the basis of their religious belief. Mr Sneddon said. “This has implications for charities which also have a religious basis. For example, every Catholic adoption charity in England and Wales has either closed down or transferred its business to a secular adoption agency.” Mr Sneddon said this was a much broader problem than the narrow religious protections ­offered in Senator Smith’s private members bill, which allows civil celebrants to decline to marry same-sex couples and religious ­organisations the right to refuse their facilities for use in same-sex weddings.

The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Dr Glenn Davies said “There are serious freedom of conscience concerns arising from the Marriage Amendment Bill 2017 being promoted by some liberal MPs.” “It fails the religious protection test,” the Archbishop said. “The Bill not only circumvents the government pledge for a plebiscite on the issue, it is manifestly deficient in its attempt to protect civil and religious freedoms for all Australians,” Dr Davies said. “The Senate Select Committee report earlier this year on the Commonwealth Government’s Exposure Draft of the Marriage Amendment (Same-Sex Marriage Bill) stressed that there was a consensus that the right to religious freedom should be positively protected. It was clear from the report that broad protections for religious freedom were needed, yet the current private members Bill has largely ignored these concerns.”

“In particular, an ‘anti-detriment’ clause to protect individuals or organisations from detriment, for expressing the view that marriage is between a man and a woman, must complement the broader religious freedom protections. The Senate Select Committee found that not only did current protections for religious freedom need to be enhanced, but the concept of a ‘no detriment’ clause could be further examined alongside those greater protections. For such a momentous decision, this Bill contains none of these crucial measures. The far-reaching consequences for society, families and children have barely begun to be raised in public discussion. This Bill fails to protect either individual conscience or religious freedom and I urge MPs to reject it,” the Archbishop said.

Source: Compiled by APN from various sources

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by Wendy Francis Australian Christian Lobby spokesperson on women

PIMPS, johns and criminals must be ecstatic with the legislation that recently passed the South Australian Legislative Council in a first step towards legalising prostitution. However, there was no celebrating by the women from Sister Survivor. Upon hearing the outcome of the vote from the South Australian Parliament, these women met, and tears flowed. They know first-hand that prostitution is physical, sexual and emotional abuse, mainly inflicted on women by men. Their lived experience was ignored by a majority of South Australian Upper House members, men and women who have themselves never faced the horror of prostitution. Indeed, for a prostituted, usually female, person, paid sex is frequently survival sex which is accompanied by the threat of violence and various other hazards such as drug taking, mental illness, high suicide rates and risk of STDs.

For prostitutes, sex is not equal, enjoyable and consenting. Rather it is sexual coercion. If one person would not have sex with another without the promise of money, rent, or food, then it represents an imbalance of power and a coercive situation which pimps and johns like to pretend is consensual, but in reality, is never possible. Sister Survivor are not alone in their understanding of prostitution. South Australia is in the perfect position to lead Australia by introducing what is the world’s most up-to-date prostitution legislation. Lori Blair, senior director of program services for Soroptimist International of the Americas, has echoed Canadian journalist Victor Malarek’s description of prostitution as “the experience of being hunted, dominated, harassed, assaulted and battered, it is sexual terrorism against women at the hands of men”.

Sex trafficking would not exist without the demand from men for prostitution services. Sex trafficking robs people of both their lives and their freedom. Victims are lured or forced into prostitution through violence and threats. Sex trafficking and prostitution are inextricably linked and remain a huge issue across the world. Commenting on Australia’s scourge of trafficking in its 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report, the US State Department noted that Australia needs to strengthen the way it investigates sex and labour traffickers, beef up the sentences delivered to offenders, and increase efforts to train police and other frontline officers to recognise indicators of trafficking. One example of what happens in Australia occurred in April this year when a young 17-year-old girl from Guinea was lured here under the guise of work before being held captive and raped by a string of men in Sydney.

There is only so much police can do in this situation. But there’s a relatively new movement that is changing the face of prostitution and trafficking in progressive countries around the world. And right now, South Australia is in the perfect position to lead Australia by introducing what is the world’s most up-to-date prostitution legislation. The support that the ‘Nordic model’, of prostitution legislation is gaining across the globe is largely in recognition of its egalitarian approach and its success at stopping sex trafficking. The approach has already been implemented in countries such as Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Canada, Northern Ireland and France. South Korea, Mexico and Israel are also moving in this direction. Sweden was the architect of the model described as the world’s first human rights/women’s rights-based legal model of prostitution legislation.

It came about as lawmakers, feminists and the community came to understand that prostitution is at odds with gender equality and should not be supported through legalisation. The Nordic Approach criminalises the buyer of sex rather than the prostitute, addressing the demand for prostitution, and importantly also provides women with exit strategies. Within four years of the law being implemented, the number of women involved in prostitution in Sweden halved. This is good news for all human beings. Any acceptance of prostitution constitutes a threat to all humanity, and is harmful for the health and wellbeing of individuals and societies. South Australian House of Assembly MPs now have a choice, proceed with a bill which supports trafficking and continues the abuse of women, or embrace the Nordic model and move forward with legislation that encourages gender equality and respect.

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

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An Adelaide council investigated church groups for anti-LGBTI sentiments, including whether they opposed the flying of the rainbow flag, amid a push to overhaul a popular community grants program to ensure only “gay and lesbian-friendly organisations” could access funding.  In a move criticised as discriminatory and totalitarian, the City of Marion was asked to review criteria for youth development grants, which could see applicants quizzed on attitudes to gender and sexual diversity. It follows questions from independent councillor Bruce Hull about whether church group-aligned applicants “had an aversion to the gay and lesbian community”.  “I’d like to know whether the staff ascertained from the organisations whether they are gay friendly organisations?” Mr Hull asked at council.

City of Marion community and cultural services manager Liz Byrne confirmed an investigation, specifically to find out whether any church group had lodged complaints over the council’s decision to fly the rainbow flag outside its chambers. In 2015 the City of Marion became the first council in Australia to permanently fly the flag, a public sign of support for the LGBTI community. The decision split the community. “It wasn’t obvious that any of the church groups had put in complaints,” Ms Byrne told the July 25 council meeting. “We obviously don’t know if any of the attendees of the churches put in complaints as individuals. We couldn’t determine that.” Of the 11 successful applicants for the youth grants, two were aligned with religious groups. In total $110,000 was up for grabs.

While Mr Hull has requested that LGBTI inclusiveness be factored in to the eligibility criteria for future funding rounds, such a move is likely to spark fierce debate within the council and opposition from Christian groups. Fellow councillor Jerome Appleby, who has tried unsuccessfully to have the flag taken down, said it was “staggering” the council would even consider “punishing” certain groups over their views. “Since when is it business of council to be policing political opinions,” Mr Appleby said. “People in the community should be able to have dissenting views; dissenters shouldn’t be punished.” Centre for Independent studies research fellow Peter Kurti said the City of Marion’s move was a significant concern as it threatened to sideline groups just because they did not align with a particular ideology.

“The council made a decision to fly the rainbow flag and in making that decision it seems everyone now has to agree with not just the flying of the flag but with anything else that extends from that,” Reverend Kurti said. “It smacks of totalitarianism, and children and young people are being used as the weapons.” Family Voice Australia director Ashley Saunders said any attempt to withdraw local government funding from church groups would be “extraordinarily detrimental and contrary to the best interests of communities”. Mr Hull said he expected a backlash but defended his stance, saying that the rainbow flag decision had stirred up some “abhorrent sentiments” in the community. He said he had received many complaints, including one from a deputy principal who was “silly enough to send from the church school email account”.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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