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News Article

Key freedoms being bludgeoned under section 17(1)
Friday, November 13, 2015

Important freedoms of speech and religion are under serious attack after Robin Banks’ decision to proceed against Archbishop Julian Porteous and the entire Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.  The move came after a complaint by transgender Greens candidate Martine Delaney, claiming that a respectfully-worded Catholic booklet about marriage was offensive and insulting.
FamilyVoice Tasmania director Jim Collins said it is mind-boggling that a widely-respected church leader could face legal action for defending an institution which is current law.
“This is an extraordinary attack on free speech using the blunt instrument of Section 17(1),” he said.  “Robin Banks must be very careful in weighing up this case.  Hurt feelings cannot reasonably be the basis to silence free speech.”
Mr Collins also pointed out that Archbishop Porteous did not intentionally offend Martine Delaney – nor was Martine Delaney an intended recipient of the booklet.
“The publicity surrounding this claim of offence seemingly coincides with Delaney’s bid to become a federal MP,” he said.  “Some will see this as a cynical publicity stunt.
“I call on the Tasmanian Government to revoke Section 17(1) retrospectively, to prevent it being used as a blunt instrument against freedom.”


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