Monday, April 25, 2005

Bracks' Racial And Religious Tolerance Act - Inciting Religious Vilification And Tarnishing Our Courts

Mark Durie has a brilliant essay at Online Opinion which shows how the Bracks' government's Racial And Religious Tolerance Act 2001 incites vilification and asks Judges to take sides in incredibly complex debates of comparative theology and scriptural interpretation, in effect inserting courts as the arbiters of what religious views are deemed relevant and credible in the eyes of the law, and thus what will receive it's protection.

What is sadly ironic about the Victorian Racial and Religious Tolerance Act (pdf file 118KB) is that it incites vilification. A complainant will seek to show that the respondent’s conduct has threatened religious harmony, that they have vile intentions, that they are inciting hatred and are dishonest. In this respect, and to this point of the legal proceedings, the Islamic Council has succeeded in pursuing just such a case against Pastor Daniel Scot.

It is abundantly clear that such proceedings do not promote religious harmony. In the case of the ICV v Catch the Fire Danny Nalliah and Daniel Scot, incompatible religious world views have been in collision. There were theological sparks flying all throughout the case. In the end, Judge Higgins came to his decision in part by finding one side not to be credible, and in part by declaring aspects of the Koran to be irrelevant to 21st century life. However, in the manner of reaching this conclusion, his rulings raise more questions than they answer, closure has not been achieved, and further damage has been done to religious harmony. It seems inevitable that the decision will be appealed . . .

It is high time for the Victorian government to review the religious aspects of this Act, and to consider whether they could be removed altogether, making it simply a Racial Tolerance Act
- Mark Durie


At 11:52 PM, Blogger Rachel Croucher said...

who or what event was it that actually instigated this Act being passed in the first place? I would be interested to know

The act itself seems like a knee-jerk reaction to something, I'd like to know what...

At 1:08 PM, Blogger Mike Hunt said...

It's interesting that the State Gov is going to investigate a bill of rights for Victoria. They abandoned the right to free speech by introducing vilification laws.


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