ECAJ makes landmark submission to parliamentary committee on freedom of religion

February 10, 2017 by J-Wire Staff
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The Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) has sent a landmark 31-page submission, with 14 recommendations, to the Parliamentary Inquiry into the status of the human right to freedom of religion or belief in Australia and other countries currently being conducted by the Human Rights Sub-Committee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade.

Peter Wertheim

“The ECAJ submission and recommendations cover a wide range of laws and practices impacting on freedom of religion or belief for Jews in Australia, including the high profile issues of racial and religious vilification, offences of urging of violence on the basis of race or religion and government funding assistance for community security costs”, said ECAJ Executive Director, Peter Wertheim.

“The submission also addresses issues such as constitutional protections, religious freedom and anti-discrimination laws, employment, participation in the electoral process, freedom of Jewish divorcees to remarry under Jewish religious law, education, religious slaughter of animals, infant male circumcision, burial practice, autopsies and strata title by-laws.”

“These have been matters of perennial concern for the Jewish community and the current inquiry offers a unique opportunity for Australian Jewry to articulate its concerns and perspectives to our elected leaders.”

A section of the submission details the persecution of Jewish communities in Europe, Iran, Egypt, Turkey and the Ukraine, and encroachments on the religious freedom of these communities.

“As the scope of the Inquiry is very wide and covers freedom of religion or belief globally as well as in Australia, the ECAJ wanted to emphasise the persecution and discrimination being experienced by Jewish communities overseas”, Wertheim said.  “We want the Australian government to understand what Jewish communities in these countries are currently going through and to factor that into Australia’s dealings with those countries and the wider global community.”

The last Inquiry into freedom of religion or belief conducted by the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade was in 1999.  Its report was published in November 2000.  The full the ECAJ submission is expected to be published on the Committee website, but can in the meantime be downloaded here.

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