Last Chance! Write Now!

Hurry up and WRITE! (pic: davidd)

The deadline for submissions to the Ruddock review into religious exemptions is next Wednesday February 14: religious zealots are sending in huge numbers of submissions.


What’s more, Ruddock has been holding secret, unannounced and undocumented hearings, so we have no idea what people, especially our opponents, are telling him in person.


If you need help and inspiration in writing your submission, there’s a handy guide below, plus examples of other submissions to inspire you. But if you’re already good to go: Then:


Defend Australia’s discrimination laws from attacks by the religious right. Tell the Ruddock Inquiry that you oppose further discrimination against LGBTIQ people, women and other Australians under the guise of “religious freedom”. Sign our petition which will become part of our formal submission and say No to religious privilege.

So, what do our opponents want?


Religious zealots like Cory Bernardi, Bernard Gaynor, the Australian Christian Lobby and others are sending in huge numbers of submissions to the governments review of religious freedoms – Gaynor’s alone carries six and a half thousand signatures.

This is the next big push to wind back our equality and limit our freedom, after same-sex marriage was legalised. They want the right to discriminate against LGBTI folk with no legal penalty – a kind of apartheid law. Here are two typical sets of demands for extraordinary religious privileges. Demands that they should be beyond the reach of the law!


To the Religious Freedom Review,

Noting that this inquiry is a sham set up only after ‘homosexual marriage’ laws were passed that specifically rejected protections for Christian parents, Christian ministers and Christian schools and charities, we nonetheless take this opportunity to make our voice heard.

We demand that the government repeal laws that unjustly harm the freedom of Australians by imposing a new moral code radically at odds with the natural order.

Further, we urge the government not to abuse religious freedom by granting further concessions to the false religion of Islam. It is a violent and divisive force that should not be allowed to operate with freedom within Australia.


  • Freedom of religion cannot be limited to a certain day of the week, a certain type of building, or a certain profession. It must be extended to every person, every day, every where, or it is not freedom of religion at all.

  • Freedom to raise our children according to our own values must be guaranteed free of interference from the government, including the right to withdraw children from classes of legitimate concern, that is, clearly contradicting religious conviction.

  • It is ridiculous to compel a Muslim butcher to sell bacon to a Christian. It is equally ridiculous and obnoxious to compel anyone to facilitate the celebration or solemnisation of behaviour he finds in conflict with his conscience.

  • Just as the Russian Club must be allowed to refuse membership to Nigerians without being found to have unlawfully discriminated, all organisations and businesses must be allowed to discriminate against even protected attributes not consistent with their beliefs or ethos.

  • There must be no consequential discrimination, for example in publicly available funding, by the government against such organisations that seek to exclude others on the basis of incompatible identities or behaviours.

  • Publication of unpopular or untasteful or even anti-social opinions must be explicitly protected. This could be as innocuous as a preacher’s sermon or a lobbyist’s radical manifesto. Such freedom is essential to a population capable of critical thinking.

  • Parents must be free to send their children to schools which share their values, and these schools must be free to teach their values, specifically including but not limited to traditional Biblical teaching on every social issue, such as marriage.

  • Speech and behaviour must never be compelled which may violate someone’s convictions or conscience.

  • Freedom of religion and political expression must be specifically legislated as an absolute defence against anti-discrimination tribunals and/or human rights commissions prosecuting complaints about speech.


  • Freedom of religion is more than freedom to worship, it is freedom to live out one’s faith in public.
  • People should be free to speak publicly about their religious view of marriage without fear of being taken to a goverrnment tribunal, as was Archbishop Julian Porteous in Tasmania.
  • Parents should have the right to be notified of and then withdraw their children from classes teaching radical LGBTIQ sex and gender theory.
  • In the same way, a Muslim printer should not be forced to print copies of the Torah, wedding service providers should not be forced to participate in a vision of marriage that violates their sincerely held beliefs on marriage. We should make reasonable accommodations for each other’s views and live and let live.
  • Religious charities should be allowed to hold their view of man-woman marriage without fear of losing government funding or charitable status.
  • Preachers should be allowed to place their sermons regarding man-woman marriage on-line without fear of being taken to an anti-discrimination tribunal or commission.
  • Religious schools should be allowed to teach children their view of marriage without fear of being reported to a government commission.
  • People should not be forced into making statements about marriage or gender with which they disagree.
  • Religious schools and organisations should be allowed to positively discriminate in employment for people who adhere to their beliefs on marriage.
  • State and federal anti-discrimination law should be amended to ensure that no-one can be prosecuted for expressing the view that marriage is between one man and one woman.
  • Celebrants should be allowed to practice freely in accordance with their conscience.
  • People should not fear being sacked from their jobs (as happened to a young Canberra woman) because they express their views on marriage.
  • People should not be coerced under threat of losing their job into resigning from the boards of religious organisations that dissent from the state’s new definition of marriage.
  • There should be no legal detriment to anyone who expresses the view that marriage is between one man and one woman.


The Christian Lobby, the Catholic Church, and the Australian Conservatives have stolen the idea of weaponised “religious liberty” from the USA, and are turning it on us in Australia.


In case you don’t think big wins can easily be whittled away, I can show you, you are wrong. In fact, things usually get worse after a win, not better. so put away those rose tinted specs and wedding invites: this is not over.



Send Mr Ruddock a Valentine. But hold the roses.


On Religion in Public Life


It can be hard to think of what to say. Here are some submissions already made, busting with ideas for you to use.


Indisputably, religion asserts its current raft of freedoms through exclusive exemptions from Australian law. They are privileges not accessible to the 78 per cent of citizens who believe the constitution was framed on secular principles, with the foundational concept of separation between Church and State.


The well-known aphorism that the law must be impartial but also be seen to be impartial speaks to the optics of a process. The look of this Inquiry, I say with the greatest respect, smacks of a conservative and religious re-action to the progress of LGBTIQ civil rights, and on the part of the Prime Minister, to keep the No voting troops in his Government happy.


To grant any religion these special privileges risks creating a fragmented ghettoised society in which different groups are subject to different laws, or worse, a society in which the religious laws of one group are enforced on those of other beliefs, or of no particular belief at all.


I feel it is therefore important to make clear to all new businesses (or those thinking of entering certain professions) that they will not be allowed to discriminate against same-sex marriages. And that if this does not comply with their faith, then they can choose an alternate future profession.


Please recommend exclusion zones for protestors outside women’s health centres in every state/territory of Australia. Can you please also introduce exclusion zones for those that wish to protest against a same-sex marriage?  For example there may be protesters outside a Church or even from within a Church who may wish to disrupt proceedings.


As a trans woman, watching the dog piling in the campaign against Safe Schools, Minus 18* (all attacking kids and their parents), and of course trans women, even intersex people, was depressing as all heck. And dangerous. It has set the scene for even more attacks through the Ruddock** inquiry.

This led to the outcome, long feared, that now the only group in society that doesn’t haven’t marriage equality are some trans and intersex people, because the ‘divorce required’ laws are still in place. Plus, the requirement for compulsory genital surgery for legal gender change for trans women (but not trans men) is still in place, made worse by the fact there is zero public health support for GRS.


  • Should religious parents/guardians be allowed to coerce young people into ‘gay cure’ programs against their will?
  • Even if the young person agrees to the therapy, are they too young to give full consent?
  • If those under 18 are not old enough to legally consent to sex, how can they be old enough to consent to changing their sexual preferences?


The mulish proponents of religiously motivated discrimination declare that it represents their ‘religious freedom’. Their active resistance to change verges on hysteria combined with extreme displays of hatred, as seen during the prelude to the Marriage Equality opinion poll.

Is it little wonder that suicide rates of those targeted by this irrational intolerance are so high?


One area in which freedom of religion has been suborned by its transmutation into unjustifiable religious privilege is the granting of blanket exemptions to discriminate on some or all attributes covered by modern anti-discrimination laws, rendering them ineffective for large portions of the workforce and the population.

Except for the training and appointment of religious officials such as pastors, imams, priests, bishops, rabbis, sheikhs and the like, and the conduct of religious rites and observances, these exemptions are an unacceptable violation of the human right to equality before the law and under the law.


No legislation should be amended to allow refusal of service to anyone. No privilege should be provided to religious groups that may demean LGBTIQ people or couples.


All Australians should be educated in critical thinking and the distinction between faith and reason as a guide to knowledge, and in the diversity of religious beliefs.


At issue is a very simple proposition: when religious belief and secular law collide, which should give way? The answer is equally simple: in a plural society in which all, religious and non-religious, are equal, secular law, which applies equally to all, always overrides religious law, which applies only to the adherents of a particular religion.

Anything else grants privileges to one group over another, and leads directly to injustices



About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)