Religion and the Law

18 November 2009

Professor Patrick Parkinson AM comments on whether religious schools, charities, hospitals and other organisations should comply with anti-discrimination law.

In a special edition of The Law Report on ABC Radio National, Professor Parkinson discusses this concept with Professor Margaret Thornton of the Australian National University (ANU).

"What religious organisations need is not so much exemption from discrimination laws, as the right to choose staff who adhere to the values and requirements of the faith.

"This is a particular issue around schools.

"Article 18.4 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights states that parents ought to be able to educate their children in accordance with their values and their faith, and part of that is being able to appoint Christian staff to Christian schools, Muslim staff to Muslim schools and so on.

"And there seems to be a very fundamentalist, very extreme view of anti-discrimination laws that is now cutting against that, saying 'Oh well, it's OK for a minister to belong to the faith but we don't see any need for the maths teacher to adhere to the faith', and I think this is the core of the argument."

View the transcript or download the audio - Religion and the Law

Contact: Greg Sherington

Phone: +61 2 9351 0202

Email: 0d5d14026b06512619300f3e150e09784d0136087b23575a66394c