Submission to proposed Rights Charter for Tasmania

 The Department of Justice of Tasmania has released for comment A Charter of Rights and Responsibilities for Tasmania. See Charter information here.

While I am not in agreement with having a Charter or Bill of Human Rights and Responsibilities, I decided to make a brief submission highlighting the inadequacies of the religious freedoms provided by the proposed Charter and recommending the six areas which need to be included in any Charter of rights and responsibilities. I sent my submission yesterday:

To: Department of Justice, Tasmania

Submission to ‘A Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities for Tasmania’

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed Chart for Tasmania.

Consultation Point 3

It does seem at variance with logic that the word “Responsibilities” would be included in the title of the Charter but absent from its content! I acknowledge that there is a measure of logic in the claim that “recognition of rights implicitly involves recognition of responsibilities” but am not at all persuaded that this is sufficient. A sufficient entry to responsibilities must engage with the values of our society such as concern for the underdog, a fair go, generosity, compassion, graciousness and love.    

Consultation Point 18

Under the heading ‘General Political and Civil’ my over-riding concern is that the Charter does not deal sufficiently with the rights to religious freedom.

I strongly urge the adoption of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights rather than the proposed Charter.

This preference is evidenced in the absence of the freedom to change one’s religion from the proposed Charter.

In contrast The UNIVERSAL DECLARATION of HUMAN RIGHTS (UDHR) 1948 of the General Assembly of the United Nations includes the freedom of a person to change their religion:

 Article 18   Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

 It is important to note that the freedom of a person to change their religion should not be taken for granted  

The Islamic States refused to sign the Universal Declaration of Human Rights because of the inclusion of this right of a person to change their religion.  In 1990 the member states of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference made The Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam.  The freedom of a person to change their religion is not included in the Islamic response to the UDHR. In fact together certain Articles of the Islamic Declaration on Human Rights exercise force against a Muslim changing their religion. Articles 10 and 22: (Further info for comment, here): 

Article 10  Prohibited to exercise compulsion or exploit…to convert him (a Muslim) to another religion or atheism.

Article 22  Everyone shall have the right to express his opinion freely in such manner as would not be contrary to the principles of the Shariah.

For these reasons I believe that the freedom of a person to change their religion should be included in the Charter. 

Moreover, there are other religious freedoms that are not adequately safeguarded by the proposed Charter.

I therefore ask that the six freedoms in the statement on Freedom of Religion by the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia meeting in Melbourne last October be included in A Charter for Tasmania:   

Motion relating to Freedom of Religion

That this General Synod calls on the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments to reaffirm their commitment to religious freedom and to take all practical steps necessary to ensure that the following six freedoms are safeguarded in Australia within the constraints of the civil and criminal law generally applicable:

  • – freedom to manifest a religion through religious observance and practice;
    – freedom to appoint people of faith to organisations run by faith communities;
    – freedom to teach and uphold moral standards within faith communities;
    – freedom of conscience to discriminate between right and wrong;
    – freedom to teach and propagate religion; and
    – freedom of a person to change their religion.

I ask that these six freedoms be included in any Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities for Tasmania.

I would be pleased to participate further in the consultation.

Yours sincerely,

See also, Freedom of Religion.

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