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Cite as: September 2014 88 (09) LIJ, p.08

Unsolicited: Religious exemptions and human rights

Congratulations to the LIV and its president in opposing elements of the religious exemptions under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Victoria) in their Call to Parties for the state election 2014.

The LIV has called for a more considered approach to the religious exemptions under the EO Act. These currently allow religious bodies and schools, at the same time as receiving government funding, to discriminate on the basis of a person’s religious belief or activity, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status or gender identity “where the discrimination conforms to the doctrines, beliefs or principles of the religion or is reasonably necessary to avoid injury to the religious sensitivities of people who follow the religion”.

As reported in the LIJ, the Christian Legal Society of Victoria and the Melbourne Catholic Lawyers Association have asserted that the LIV’s position is unrepresentative of the profession and “the religious exemptions have a crucial role in ensuring religious organisations can operate in accordance with their values”. They liken the LIV’s opposition to the religious exemptions to opposing “a women’s only gym discriminating against men”.

This provides a misleading analogy. First, gays and Christians are not mutually exclusive. Second, women’s only gyms are open and transparent about their (lawful) discrimination so men are left in no doubt they are not welcome.

In its Call to Parties, the LIV has submitted that, if religious exemptions are to continue to exist, they should only apply if they are related (more narrowly) to “worship, observance, practice or teaching” and where there is openness and transparency which may require a religious body to publicly state that it reserves the ability to discriminate on the basis of a special attribute in relation to specific religious teachings.

The LIV’s support of these important human rights issues is commendable.


STUART KOLLMORGEN and JEN JACKSON LIVOut co-chairs

Understanding family law

I refer to the LIV Accredited Specialist Family Law Advisory Committee’s introduction to the Family Law Special Issue (June LIJ) and the comment in relation to family law requiring “a broader understanding of areas such as superannuation, taxation and property law.” I agree on this crucial point.

Practising in the family law area requires a diverse knowledge base and understanding of various areas of the law in order to be across all issues in a matter. There appears to be a misconception that family law matters are simple and easily resolved and that every matter will be the same. Each family law matter will bring its own set of facts and issues. In addition, once the family law legislation and rules are canvassed and dealt with and (where relevant) the appropriate court utilised, then practising in this area requires that the family law practitioner considers what other areas of the law come into play. This often means a consideration of superannuation such as the type of fund and superannuation splitting order sought. At other times it requires that the practitioner understand what is involved in relation to real property and be able to comprehend not only a title document but transfer of land and withdrawal of caveat documents.

Without some understanding and investigation into these areas of superannuation and property law there cannot be a full appreciation of all relevant issues pertaining to family law.


LOREDANA GIARRUSSO Barrister and solicitor, Michael Benjamin & Associates

Note

In the feature “Clearing the fog: legal interns and the law” (August LIJ) the author omitted a footnote after “The Act’s definition of vocational placement in s12 effectively deregulates the “work” component of work-integrated learning by placing the responsibility for regulating the programs on tertiary institutions.” It should cite: Craig Cameron, “The Vulnerable Worker? A Labor Law Challenge for WIL and Work Experience” (2013) 14(3) Asia-Pacific Journal of Cooperative Education 135, 137.

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