PM ScoMo fights for religious freedom despite the opposition

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Attorney-General Christian Porter have released the Ruddock Religious Freedom Review and the government’s response. Although the Ruddock panel said that Australia does not need a religious freedom commissioner, the Prime Minister  has announced his intention to do so. The response also addresses issues like, when can a parent take their children out of studies that conflict with their religious beliefs, treatment of LGBTIQ students in religious schools, framing of a religious discrimination law etc.

The most controversial aspect of the Ruddock review is whether religious schools can discriminate against students, teachers and staff based on their sexual orientation. Most religious groups including Hindu Council, Jewish religious organizations, Islamic organizations and most Christian denominations oppose such restrictions on religious schools.

While the Prime Minister has openly come in support of religious groups, some in the opposition are not so sure and see it as an LGBTIQ rights issue.

We believe that the Prime Minster has struck the right balance between religious freedom and anti-discrimination and that religious schools should not be forced to preach any thing that goes against their teachings. They should not be forced to provide their school and other resources for propagating ideas that are not compatible with their teachings.

You can read about Ruddock review here.

You can read about Hindu Council response to the review here.

You can read more details about the review and comments here.

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Diwali 2018 at Federal Parliament in Canberra

Hindu Council of Australia celebrated Diwali at Australian Federal Parliament jointly with BAPS (Swaminarayan). Here is a brief video of the same.

 

 

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Religious freedom collides with anti-discrimination laws in Australia

By: Surinder Jain.

Religious freedom is fundamental to Australian identity said the Australian Prime minister Scott Morrison. And Australians voted in favor of anti-discrimination laws to protect the rights of LGBT only recently. One would think that both are laudable achievements for Australia, but the future of religious freedom does not look so rosy.

A clash between Religious Freedom and Human Rights is brewing up.

Religious freedom right to propagate one’s belief permits Christians, Jews, Muslims and all other religions to run their own schools. Does this freedom means that these schools can admit gay students and have gay teachers imparting religious teachings to children when many believe admitting gay in their schools is against their faith.

This debate is heating up in Australia.

Religious freedom rights for an individual come in various parts. Right to belief is a right to believe in a certain religion and some/all the tenants that come with it. Right to practice a religion is a right to practice your religious rituals and actions coming from the belief. It also includes a right to propagate your beliefs either to your own constituency or to other non-believers.

Human rights on the other hand are also a set of rights for an individual and includes Right to Live, a Right to Freedom, a Right to Express and a number of other rights like anti-discrimination and so on.

Australia and most secular and theocratic countries permit Right to Belief. Australia also permits Right to Practice and a Right to Propagate religion without any state interference. Some theocratic countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia place restrictions on Right to Practice in public and thus not allowing any temple or church unless it has been sanctioned by the government. Many countries in the middle east ban propagation of any religion other than the state sanctioned one.

Communist countries like China place restrictions on all religions. They frown upon all religious beliefs and control them by total control over appointment of clergy and allow only state permitted rituals to be practiced. Communist ideology and whims of the party are given far higher priority than either religious freedom or human rights.

A clash between the rights of one individual to protect their faith and institutions and the right of other individuals to a fair go requires a balancing act. While the Liberal party PM has vowed to protect religious freedom as integral to Australian identity, the opposition Labor party is considering an “appropriate” balance between the two.

When Right to Life clashes with Right to Practice, the human Right to live wins hands down. Thus I can not take away life or liberty of an individual even if I believe that my religious belief requires me to do so. My Right to Propagate my religion by imposing it on others will be OK in ISIS ruled countries but will be rejected in most other countries including Australia.

In a progressive country like Australia, Right to Propagate once religion has been well balanced with the Right to Practice one’s religion. Thus each religion is prohibited from imposing its belief on another religion. If I believe in a religion that does not have a personal God then I can not ask another religion to permit me to enforce my belief as part of their propagation. Thus if a religion does not believe in God, then s/he has no right to join a christian church/school and expect to teach his/her belief to the christian congregation or to students in a christian school. Religious practitioners can not invoke courts of law to enforce their Right to Propagate through the propagation machinery (churches, schools, congregations, Sunday mass, sermons, communications etc.) of other religions except in their own.

This is tampered both ways. No religion can frown upon the beliefs and practices of others as long as they are valid in law. No religion should propagate a belief that belittles the belief of another religion.

We can find the appropriate balance between right to propagation and anti-discrimination using the above well accepted principal. Thus all religions will respect the rights of LGBT and will not frown upon their practices in their religious propagation. At the same time, LGBT do not have an automatic right to use another religions propagation machinery to propagate their beliefs. Thus LGBT should not expect that they will be able to teach their belief in a religious school as much as a Hindu does not expect to have an automatic right give a Hindu sermon in a Christian church.

Number of Religious schools and number of students studying in religious schools is such a minority that it does not restrict the right of LGBT children to study or LGBT teachers to employment. These children have a very wide choice as to which school they go to study.  Teachers of LGBT persuasion are not constrained in applying for jobs to most schools and have a meaningful employment. And off course, there is nothing stopping people passionate about their gender beliefs to start their own special LGBT friendly schools.

Each new religion in Australia has to do the hard effort to establish their own schools, churches, temples and congregations. A newly arrived religion like Hinduism does not expect Christians or Jews to be forced to give up their resources like church or school for the propagation of Hinduism. Similarly, LGBT have to do their own hard yakka in establishing their own schools etc and not expect to get an easy ride on the resources of other religions in the name of anti-discrimination. And the Religions should not frown upon LGBT efforts to establish their own special LGBT friendly schools either.

By : Surinder Jain

 

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Hindu Women’s Issues Survey

If you are a Hindu woman living in Australia, please take a minute to enter this survey. It will help Hindu Council of Australia to frame projects and policies to face these issues.

Your Phone (optional) :

Your Age Group* : 18-25 years26-35 years35-60 yearsAbove 60

Your ethinic background : IndianNepaliBaliAustralianOther

How long ago did you come to Australia : Less than 2 years ago2 to 7 years ago7 to 15 years agomore than 15 yearsBorn in Australia

What in your opinion are the major issues facing Hindu women in Australia : Domestic ViolenceHave to Work at Home as well OfficeAcceptance at work placeSocializing with non-Indian neighboursLanguage barrierSexual harassment at workRacial discrimination at workImparting sanskar to childrenDifficulty in keeping Hindu way of lifeOther

Do you work : YesNo

If working, did your family support you : YesNoNot Applicable

Is it easy to adjust to work culture here : YesNoNot Applicable

Do you get accepted socially at work : YesNoNot Applicable

Have you experienced/witnessed Domestic Violence : Yes, I have been a victimYes, Someone close to me has been a victimNo, Never

Did the victim of Domestic Violence get support : Yes, Sufficient supportYes, but not enoughNo SupportDon't Know

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Donate to Hindu Council of Australia

Hindu Council of Australia’s mission is to work for a strong, cohesive and active Hindu community in Australia, aiming to live in harmony with other religious and cultural communities while also devoted to preserving, promoting and sharing Hindu faith, culture and traditions with others in the society.

Now it is easy to make a donation to Hindu Council of Australia using your credit card at Hindu Council web site.

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A Talk on Gita Jayanti by Prakash Mehta

A Talk on Gita Jayanti by Prakash Mehta, President, Hindu Council of Australia.

 

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Hindu Council activities report for 2018

Annual General Meeting of Hindu Council was held in Blacktown on 15th December 2018 and was attended by about 40 members. A report of activities for the year 2018 was presented and can be downloaded below :

Download the report (15MB)

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Invitation to conduct further research about ANZAC Jawans

By : Prakash Mehta.

Hindu Council of Australia has erected a cenotaph dedicated to all servicemen of Indian origin who have enrolled or served the Australian forces in World Wars. It was inaugurated with the joint efforts and support of the Department of Veteran Affairs, Hornsby Shire Council, Hornsby RSL, Hindu Council of Australia, local  Indian community and local MP Julian Leeser.

Cadets guarding the memorial at Cherry Brook Park, NSW

The memorial in NSW is a first of its kind in the state that recognises the contributions and connections of people of Indian origin. It is about the contributions made by the servicemen of Indian origin in Australia, by enlisting at the time of need. The plaque commemorates the service and sacrifice made by Australian Soldiers and Military Personnel of Indian heritage who served in the Australian Imperial Force in World War I.

It also remembers and recognises up to 15,000 Indian Soldiers who fought with allied troops at Gallipoli where almost 1,400 Indians Soldiers died at Gallipoli and up to 3,500 were wounded. It also remembers and recognises the Indian Soldiers who have participated alongside the Australian Soldiers in various Military Campaigns and Peace Missions. ”

The first effort to find out about such service men came to Hindu Council’s attention by an article written by journalist Manpreet K Singh and published by SBS dated 9 June 2017.

https://www.sbs.com.au/yourlanguage/punjabi/en/article/2017/06/09/12-indian-anzacs-who-enlisted-australian-imperial-force-during-wwi

These names were further confirmed with research center of Australian War Memorial Canberra service records about the accuracy and authenticity.

The President of Hindu Council has called upon people to come forward and do further research and said that

We hope this Cenotaph also encourages more research and publications to connect larger Australian Indian community with Anzac history.

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Pauline Hanson gives thumbs up to Indian Migration to Australia

By : Surinder Jain.

Pauline Lee Hanson is an Australian politician and a Senator representing the state of Queensland. She is also the founder and leader of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party (PHON). Despite Hanson’s repeated denials of charges of racism,[13] her views on race and immigration have been discussed widely in Australia. In her maiden speech, Hanson proposed a drastic reduction in immigration with particular reference to immigrants from Asia. Condemning multiculturalism, her One Nation party has rallied against government immigration and multicultural policies.[20] Hanson publicly backed Kevin Andrews, then Minister for Immigration under John Howard, in his views about African migrants and crime.[25]

Senator Pauline Hanson (source : Wikipedia)

Hindu Council of Australia, in association with the Hon Coleman MP, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs and Senator the Hon Zed Seselja Assistant Minister for Treasury and Finance, celebraterd Deepawali festival and Annakut in the Great Hall of the Federal Parliament House in Canberra on Monday December 3, 2018. Pauline was one of the honored guests at Diwali.

Although Diwali has been celebrated at federal Parliament for over ten years now, it was the first time that Pauline Hanson joined. “This is the first time I have ever been to this event. I am not anti-migrant at all.” She said that she did not see any  problem with Indians migrating to Australia.  She expressed her happiness for having joined Diwali festivities. “It’s very special what I understand as a community. I am still learning. I don’t understand it fully but I think as a member of parliament and a national political party, it’s nice to be a part of it and I support the Indian community on this special day.”

[Read more …]

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Addressing Global Warming through reducing meat consumption

By : Vijai Singhal.

An Open letter to MPs and Senators.

3rd December, 2018

Dear Senators and MPs,

As you already know, addressing Climate Change is the most important issue for humanity.The recent results of the Victorian State elections have clearly proved that Australian people want positive action on climate change. It has already resulted in the dethroning of the past four Prime Ministers in Australia.

Hindu Council of Australia has been very actively involved in addressing this issue mainly from the point of view of reducing meat consumption, which is the most effective things people can do to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and ensure food availability for the poor, as well as extending the values of respect and compassion for animals and is good for our own health. Hindu Councilhad launched its “Meat Free Day” campaign on 2nd October, 2008 – on Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday. We are now celebrating its 10th anniversary and Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th year of his birthday.

You know that as per UN FAO report: “Livestock’s Long Shadow”, animal-farming contributes more greenhouse gases (in CO2 equivalents) than of all forms of transportation worldwide (18% vs. 13.5%). Under a business as usual scenario, the number of animals farmed worldwide is projected to double by 2050. The resulting greenhouse gas emissions would negate reductions from other positive changes (e.g. increasing automobile fuel efficiencies, switching to renewable energy etc). It is therefore necessary to take positive action to reduce meat consumption. This aspect of the problem is not getting the attention it deserves. At long last the recent IPCC report did emphasise the need to move to plant-based diet, improved farming practices and reduction in food wastage as being necessary to limit the GHG emissions.

It is also a big health issue, as you know WHO had released a report on 26 Oct 2015 that says that if you eat as much as 50 grams of processed meat (the equivalent of a few slices of bacon) every day – or a total of 350 grams a week – your risk of colon cancer goes up by 18 percent. Our average consumption is far too high. The resulting increase in health budget is becoming a big problem for the national government to balance its books as well. Moderating our consumption of meat and dairy products will lower the incidence of obesity, ischaemic heart disease and stroke, while cutting consumption of processed meat will reduce the incidence of colorectal cancers, resulting in the saving of billions of dollars in health budget.

We look forward to the support from Greens to highlight this issue as it effects so many aspects of our living.

Vijai Singhal

Director, Hindu Council of Australia

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