Manifesto for a secular Australia

4 Feb 2013

Manifesto for a secular Australia

4 February 2013

After workshops involving secular associations, including Humanist Society of Victoria, the following statement was agreed and published.

1 HSV and its allies support a secular, pluralistic and democratic Australia. Government policies should be based on evidence, reason and compassion, and protect the human rights of all Australians. Everyone should be free to choose and hold their own religious or non-religious world-views, provided they do not impose such views on others, and provided practices associated with such world-views do no harm.
Parliaments and Government
2 There must be clear separation between religion and the State. All Australian constitutions should be reformed to ensure clear separation between religion and the State, and all references to God removed. Parliamentary prayers and religious references in statutory oaths should be removed. No laws made by parliaments nor decisions of executive government should privilege or promote religion.
The Law
3 There must be ‘one law for all’, with no recognition of parallel legal systems. Religious institutions should not be permitted to exempt themselves from the law of the land. Canon law must not take precedence over Australian law.Sharia courts should not be officially recognized.There should be mandatory reporting by religious functionaries of actual or suspected child abuse.
4 Religious organizations must be subject to the same laws as other organizations. The ‘advancement of religion’ should be removed from the statutory definition of charity, and religious organizations should not enjoy automatic tax-exempt status. Religious organizations should be subject to anti-discrimination laws in employment and service provision.Government funding to religious organizations such as schools and hospitals should be subject to rigorous accountability to ensure compliance with anti-discrimination laws and the absence of proselytizing.
5 Education must be strictly secular, not promoting any particular religion. National and state curricula should include the study of a range of religious and non-religious world-views, taught by professionally trained teachers. Government resources should not be used to support particular religious views, programs of religious instruction, or the employment of religious functionaries in educational settings.
Sex and Sexuality
6 There must be no discrimination on the basis of a person’s sex, sexuality or gender identity. Australian governments should not impose a religious bias on the definition of marriage, or on the right to adopt.
7 There must be freedom of reproductive choice, with no religious interference. Termination of pregnancy should be decriminalized in all States and Territories. Governments should make access to evidence-based sexual and reproductive health information and healthcare services universally available.Age-appropriate sex and relationships education should be included in national and state curricula.
8 Healthcare must be available to all, regardless of the religious views of the provider. Public hospitals must not be allowed to restrict treatment on the basis of religious world-views.Private hospitals must not refuse emergency treatment on the basis of religious world-views.
9 Children must not suffer because of the religious views of their parents. Decisions about children’s healthcare should be based on evidence-based medicine, not the religious world-views of their parents. No organization, whether religious or not, should be allowed to restrict children’s education or to isolate them within closed communities.
Dying with Dignity
10 When facing the end of life, everyone must be guaranteed control over their own bodies, free from religious interference. ‘Advance directives’ should be given legal force. Physician-assisted suicide, with appropriate safeguards, should be decriminalized.Governments should fund non-religious palliative care services.

Stephen Stuart