Human Rights Commission hoisted with its own petard
In the recent Australian Marriage Law Survey, Australians were asked the following question: ‘Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?’
Who would have predicted that one reaction of the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) to the survey result would be an explicit acknowledgment that in multicultural Australia there is a human right to hold and freely express opposition to same-sex marriage?
The survey result presented the AHRC with a problem of its own making. Throughout the broader ongoing debate about free speech in Australia of which the survey formed part, the AHRC persistently and wilfully conflated religion and race. Before the survey, the AHRC peremptorily dismissed this criticism as ‘a clever trick’.
The accusation of ‘racism’ is the most powerful mechanism for suppression of public debate of religious ideas, beliefs and practices in contemporary Australia. It has been used most effectively by the AHRC to shield the ideas, beliefs and practices of one of the three major monotheistic religions from the kind of critical scrutiny which applies to all other religious ideas. Consistently with the privileged system’s unique claim of religious supremacy as the final divinely revealed truth about earthly life (and its theocratic foundations), it is unwilling to tolerate any such public debate.
Similarly, the AHRC has persistently conflated criticism of religious ideas with bigotry towards persons who embrace such ideas. This is also wilful since, for example, the AHRC must be taken to know that in the Catch the Fires Ministry case (2006) in the Victorian Court of Appeal, one of the judges emphasised the plain fact that ‘there are any number of persons who may despise each other’s [religious] faiths and yet bear each other no ill will’.
Because it persistently denies reality, the AHRC’s ideological and sectarian approach to the role of debate about controversial religious ideas in Australia’s multicultural society has been a rhetorical device with an inherent tendency to blow up in the AHRC’s face.
In New South Wales, where the overall No response in the same-sex survey was 42.2 per cent, there were eleven federal electorates in which the No response ranged from 50 per cent to a whopping 74 per cent. It seems clear enough that the root cause of those majority No responses has to do with the religious ideas, beliefs and practices of specific religious communities from each of the People of the Book concentrated in those electorates.
On 22 November, the Racial Discrimination Commissioner (RDC) speaking for the AHRC gave a lecture entitled ‘Racism, Denial and False Narratives’ to the National Advancing Community Cohesion Conference at Western Sydney University. As with related AHRC presentations, publications and social media politicking, much of the lecture is couched in the abstraction, obscurantism, virtuous incantation, self-congratulation, and rigidity all of which is integral to the post-modern ideological version of multiculturalism peddled by the AHRC. But the following message is clear:
‘It is certainly true that there are some ethnic or multicultural communities, whose members are not generally in favour of same-sex marriage – whose members adhere to a view of marriage as being only between a man and a woman, as defined by their ethnic, religious or cultural traditions.’
That observation deserves to be in the top ten candidates for political understatement of 2017. Within some religious segments of the aforesaid ‘multicultural communities’ the underlying divinely inspired scriptural characterisations of ‘same-sex relations’ label it as an abomination. It can be inferred that this view of the world is being inculcated in the minds of small children. Similar scriptural condemnations apply to fornication and adultery, the latter attracting capital punishment in those parts of the globe where theocracy rather than secular democracy rules.
At least the AHRC is now on record as acknowledging that freedom of religion includes the protection of the holding and propagating of religious ideas which most Australians would regard as laughably medieval. Or does the AHRC still adhere to an inner sectarian reservation?
In the course of setting up and then decking a straw person, namely, the claim that the overall size of the No response to the survey (38 per cent) can be taken to be a repudiation of multiculturalism, the AHRC spokesman said this: ‘Perhaps more troubling is the manner in which those from multicultural backgrounds are held to a standard that isn’t necessarily applied to others.’
The AHRC says that there is implied in ‘the narrative’ (whatever that is to be taken to mean) of the multicultural No vote an idea that it is acceptable to have voted No if you are from ‘the majority’ but not if you are from ‘a minority’. This is yet another illustration of AHRC resorting to self-pitying sophistry.
Whatever else can be said about the AHRC’s ideological preferences, this observer senses that many Australians of whatever ‘position’ would regard the spectacle of one of the AHRC’s highly paid human rights evangelists crossing the Commonwealth ritualistically sneering at ‘Australians of British background enjoying a privileged position’ as ludicrous. Ask a sample of average unemployed Australians of ‘British background’ each with one dependent child what precisely she or he considers makes them more ‘privileged’ having to survive on the ‘Newstart’ allowance of $582.80 a fortnight.
Subscribe to The Spectator Australia today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator Australia for less – just $1 for 6 weeks