In the past few weeks, Christian leaders have decided to voice those fears from the pulpit in an attempt to reframe the public debate around same-sex marriage in Australia, most notably over the issue of 'religious freedom' where the archbishop cited the case of the Oregon bakers who were earlier this year ordered to pay almost $200,000 in damages after they refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.
To civil libertarians, the notion of accommodating prejudice towards same-sex couples in the name of religious observance is absurd.
"Can bakers refuse to supply weddings to Indigenous people on the grounds of their race? Can bakers refuse to supply cakes to Islamic people on the grounds of their race?" NSW Council for Civil Liberties president Stephen Blanks said.
"I think it's an absolute misunderstanding of what cake suppliers do," he said. "They supply the cakes."
Mr Blanks said there were already exceptions to anti-discrimination laws to accommodate religious groups.
"In my view, the ability to apply to the Human Rights Commission for exemption from anti-discrimination laws is a suitable mechanism for giving service providers an opportunity to obtain exemptions in particular cases," he said.
"There may be some service providers who are closely associated with particular religious bodies that may merit exemption. Of course, I am left wondering why a religiously oriented wedding cake supplier would feel that it is necessary for faith-based reasons to discriminate on sexual orientation grounds, but not on the basis of whether or not the wedding couple had maintained celibacy."
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald
Further proposed changes to the anti-terror laws by the Turnbull government have seen interest internationally from various groups pointing out Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s government has seized on the tragic October 2 shooting in western Sydney of a police staff member by a 15-year-old boy to bring forward planned laws that will include imposing control orders on children as young as 14.
No evidence has been produced that the teenager, Farhad Jabar, shot and killed police accountant Curtis Cheng as an act of terrorism. Jabar himself was quickly gunned down by police and killed. No group, including Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), has claimed responsibility for his action.
They note however, that there is already growing (domestic) public opposition to the new laws. NSW Council for Civil Liberties president Stephen Blanks said they were “undoubtedly going to be in breach of human rights standards,” and condemned as “obviously unacceptable,” the “idea of detaining 14-year-old children for questioning without charge, and secretly for long periods of time.”
Provocatively, Sydney Muslim community leaders were not told about the latest measures when they met for “consultations” with Baird on Monday. Silma Ihram, from the Muslim Women’s Association said the laws would “feed straight into the narrative” of ISIS and “make things worse, unfortunately.”
Source: The World Socialist Web
The ACT government has expressed concern about a proposal to extend the reach of counter-terrorism control orders to youth as young as 14. Federal Attorney-General George Brandis said he would make the change after a request was made by NSW Premier Mike Baird. The request was prompted by the shooting of NSW Police accountant Curtis Cheng by a 15-year-old boy who has been linked to Islamic extremism.
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties has also criticised the proposed lowering of the control order age threshold.
"The proposed laws are undoubtedly going to be in breach of human rights standards," president Stephen Blanks told the ABC, "The idea of detaining 14-year-old children for questioning without charge, and secretly for long periods of time, should be obviously unacceptable to the whole community."
Source: The Canberra Times
In many people's estimation, NSW Premier Mike Baird is justified in making the case for tougher anti-terror laws in the wake of the October 2 jihadist murder outside Parramatta police station. In Monday’s letter to Malcolm Turnbull, Mr Baird restated the argument for lowering the threshold age for control orders from 16 to 14 and for law enforcement agencies to be allowed to hold terrorism suspects without charge for 28 days rather than the present 14.
However, Stephen Blanks, from the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, said the Baird proposal “undoubtedly” would breach human rights. “The idea of detaining 14-year-old children for questioning without charge, and secretly for long periods of time, should be obviously unacceptable to the whole community.”
Article: Tougher terror laws are needed
Source: The Australian
NSW premier Mike Baird's bid to allow police to hold terror suspects for four weeks without charge is "window dressing" and will not stop young people being radicalised, say civil libertarians. Mr Baird wants police to be given the power to keep suspects in custody for up to 28 days without charge and to lower the age from 16 to 14 years at which someone can be placed under a control order.
Stephen Blanks, President of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties said the changes will not prevent future attacks.
"I don't think these proposed laws are a genuine attempt to make the community safer. They are simply window-dressing to give the appearance of doing something."
Mr Blanks said community programs, engagement and educational initiatives are the only way to ensure people do not become alienated.
Source: Channel 9 News
In the wake of the shooting of a Sydney Police accountant by a boy, terrorism suspects as young as 14 could have their movements restricted under new federal counter-terrorism laws. Attorney-General George Brandis has flagged the fifth tranche of Commonwealth anti-terror laws, less than two weeks after a 15-year-old boy shot dead Curtis Cheng outside NSW Police Headquarters.
However, Civil Liberty groups believe the existing laws are adequate.
The move, according to the President of the NSW Council of Civil Liberties, Stephen Blanks, will be draconian and counter-productive.
“Well, it is another knee jerk reaction to a problem that needs to be addressed in a different way,” he told ABC News Breakfast,"We need to have a conversation in Australia about how we deal with the threat of terrorism while at the same time maintaining human rights, and these laws are just going to be inconsistent with human rights protections.”
Source: The Huffington Post Australia
The Federal Government is set to introduce tough new anti-terror laws into Parliament.The legislation will include a proposal to lower the age at which a control order can be applied from 16 to 14. The New South Wales Government also wants changes that will allow terror suspects to be held for up to 28 days without charge.
NSW Council for Civil Liberties President says such laws would be draconian and ultimately counter-productive.
"The last thing we need is more laws. Australia has legislated more than any other country in response to terrorism and the legislation has been utterly counterproductive. What more extreme legislation does is alienate sections of the community. The proposed laws are undoubtedly going to be in breach of human rights standards."
Article/Radio Broadcast: Federal Government set to introduce new terror laws
Source: ABC AM Radio
Law changes requested by the New South Wales Government and agreed to by Senator Brandis could see young people closely monitored under potential laws aiming to lower the age of control orders from 16 to 14. The NSW Government also wants the legal time limits on holding suspects changed so that they could be held for up to four days (in place of four hours), with a court able to extend the detention period to 28 days (in place of 8 days).
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties said existing laws were adequate and the proposed changes would be excessive.
"The proposed laws are undoubtedly going to be in breach of human rights standards," council president Stephen Blanks said, "The idea of detaining 14-year-old children for questioning without charge, and secretly for long periods of time, should be obviously unacceptable to the whole community."
Source: ABC News
A teenager arrested during counter-terror raids in Sydney on Wednesday morning is still being held without being charged. Yesterday a court granted the Australian Federal Police (AFP) an additional 100 hours to question the 18-year-old male. Lawyers say they have grave concerns about allowing detention without charges, saying it amounts to a form of torture.
Similar laws have been enacted before, most notably with the example of a Queensland doctor, Mohammad Haneef, being detained in July 2007 for 12 days on suspicion of involvement in a terror attack on Glasgow airport.
The case against Dr Haneef ultimately fell apart, and he later won significant compensation from the Australian Government.The president of the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties, Stephen Blanks, says the Haneef case exposed deep flaws in this legal provision.
"These are the types of laws that bring the authorities into disrepute and bring the law into disrepute. It's the kind of law which is so unfair that the community loses respect for the authorities when these kinds of detention powers are exercised and you only have to look at the Haneef case how that occurs."
Radio broadcast/transcript Concerns AFP detaining teenage terror suspect without charge
Source: ABC AM Radio
Police have charged a student after he was arrested on his way to Arthur Phillip High School - the same school attended by the 15-year-old who shot a man dead at Parramatta's police headquarters last week. At around 8.30am (Oct 6th), police approached the teenage boy about alleged posts on social media - which appeared to celebrate the shooting death of New South Wales police employee Curtis Cheng.
During the interaction, police allege the teenager threatened and intimidated police. But there have been questions about the circumstances of the arrest.
NSW Council for Civil Liberties president Stephen Blanks says the actions were not appropriate and could be damaging to community relations.
"For all that's been said over the last few days about a new approach by the authorities towards the Muslim community, this incident shows that there is still some way to go before that community. Indeed the whole community is treated by police with the respect that the community is due," he said.
Mr Blanks says it will be interesting to see what the boy recorded of the police moments before his arrest.
"Police know that they don't have the right to access schools without going through the Department of Education's processes. The principal has to be notified and has to approve police being on school premises; parents have to be notified and given an opportunity to attend."
Source: SBS News