AJA calls for protection of conscientious and religious freedom

December 5, 2017 by Geoff Bloch
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In the recent postal plebiscite on Same Sex Marriage (SSM) the Australian Jewish Association did not enter the debate on behalf of either the “YES” or the “NO” campaign.

Geoff Bloch

AJA considered that each citizen had the right to vote according to their own subjective conscience or religious affiliation.

It does not logically follow that the successful “YES” campaign means that those who voted “NO” were wrong to hold their view. The plebiscite did not purport to determine SSM in terms of right or wrong. It simply gauged whether a majority of Australians desired that SSM be enacted.

Those voting “NO” fell broadly into one or both of two categories. One category included those whose views are informed by a religious affiliation espousing moral principles inconsistent with SSM. The other category included those who, in good conscience, value and hence wish to preserve traditional values.

It is fundamental to a civil society that a minority’s right to hold a different but nevertheless perfectly legitimate view be respected and preserved. It is that fundamental freedom which separates civil societies from totalitarian regimes.

That is why our Parliament should ensure that freedom of religion and freedom of conscience – the two concepts underlying the above two categories – must not be adversely affected by legislation enabling SSM.

Everyone, clergy and lay alike, should be free not to be involved in SSM events. In practical terms, that includes the freedom to withhold services for an SSM wedding whether it be catering, printing, photography or venue hire and the right of parents to exempt their children from educational programs promoting SSM.

Our Parliament has recently refused to enshrine these protections but has referred them off to be considered after SSM is enacted. AJA considers that thatcourse is unwise.

AJA considers that the freedom not to participate in SSM events or programs is no less important than SSM itself. That is why this freedom should be enshrined as a protective provision within the SSM legislation.

Geoff Bloch is Chairman of AJA Policy


4 Responses to “AJA calls for protection of conscientious and religious freedom”
  1. Henry Herzog says:

    Freedom to discriminate is more like it Mr Bloch. The survey was about equality, for all, and you lost, so suck it up, snowflake. But you being a lawyer, what puzzles me is how you don’t know about the division between state and religion. And protection of Freedom of religion, wasn’t that what the Inquisitions were all about? Your definition of freedom is freedom to discriminate,on whatever grounds be they race, religion or sexual orientation. Try equality, it works much better than freedom to propagate hate.

    • Henry Herzog says:

      Furthermore, where’s the evidence, Mr Bloch, that the 38% all voted no for religion freedom? Many could have voted no because they’re homophobes.
      And if the result of the survey went the other way, would Bloch advocate for the people who voted yes?

  2. Dr Ilan Buchman says:

    I was appalled with the comments by Geoff Bloch and without wanting to enter into an argument with his views I would like to suggest that he replaces SSM with the word Jews and re-reads his comments. I wonder how he would feel if an act of parliament allowed refusal of services to Jews.

    We as Jews should always be at the forefront of protecting the rights of every group and remember the lessons of the Holocaust

  3. Adrian Jackson says:

    While I am a straight bachelor and like it that way I still voted yes, like 81% of Melbourne Ports federal electorate constituents.

    In relation to the minority no vote this means that all Australian are not dominated on SSM by a minority view, at least in the last decade, as was the case when conservative parliamentarians like the late Sen Brian Harradine from Tasmania, Rev Fred Nile, conservative Christian religious leaders, particularly those in Sydney, and others held sway over the majority on so many issues.

    Some minority views should be respected but they should never determine policy.

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