The Uniting Church in Australia has called on the Abbott Government to drop its proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act.
“The amendments proposed would diminish protections against racial vilification. This is totally unacceptable in a multicultural, multi-faith society,” said Rev. Professor Andrew Dutney.
“Christian principles of love and inclusion – principles we share with all major faith traditions – lead us to oppose bigotry and intolerance wherever it occurs. It is simply wrong to enable the expression of racial prejudice and bigotry.”
In a submission to the Attorney General’s Department, the Assembly, the national council of the Uniting Church, has voiced concern at the effects the changes drafted by Attorney-General George Brandis will have on its members.
“Many members of our Church have come to Australia to escape the kind of racial or ethnic violence and discrimination they experienced in their former countries. Regrettably some also experience racism here,” said Rev. Dr Tony Floyd, National Director for Multicultural and Cross Cultural Ministry
“For a Church like ours which celebrates inclusion and diversity, these changes are a step in the wrong direction. For the sake of our humanity this Bill must be rejected.”
The Uniting Church in Australia declared itself a multicultural church in 1985 and on any given Sunday almost 200 culturally and linguistically diverse groups worship at Uniting churches in 26 languages other than English.
The National Director of Uniting Church’s justice and advocacy unit UnitingJustice, Rev. Elenie Poulos said people subjected to racial vilification would be left without appropriate protection.
“The current law sets appropriate boundaries. The proposed amendments remove those boundaries and give permission to those who would seek to racially vilify others,” said Rev. Poulos.
“We are greatly concerned that the changes will see a flood of publications that propagate racial hatred with no recourse for those who are targeted.
“Racism is a sin, a denial of human dignity that erodes trust in society. We must do all we can as a society to rid ourselves of bigotry and prejudice.” said Rev. Poulos.
The Uniting Church submission is available for download at www.unitingjustice.org.au/RDAsubmission
30 April 2014