|Thursday, 04 October 2012 13:11|
The UN is again considering 'defamation of religion' laws. Last year a 'compromise motion' on 'religious tolerance' - with similar aims - was approved by the UN General Assembly (source).
We want Australia to oppose - and vote AGAINST - both 'defamation of religion' laws and also 'religious tolerance' laws.
In Victoria, we are acutely aware of the problems caused by the Racial¬†and Religious Tolerance Act, introduced by the Bracks Labor government in 2001. The most high-profile case,¬†involving Pastor Daniel Scot and Catch the Fire Ministries, caused huge angst and took five years to 'resolve'!
At the United Nations, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), made up of 57 Islamic nations, has been lobbying to get 'defamation of religion' laws implemented for at least a decade (they started in 1999). The first such attempts, by Pakistan, were called 'Defamation of Islam'. They've since changed the NAME, but not the intent! ¬†
Pakistan has blasphemy laws which make essentially¬†make it a¬†crime to criticise Islam
Defamation of Religion at the UN
Unfortunately UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon seems to be generally supportive, saying "offensive speech is an abuse of freedom of speech". But that's what free speech is: to say things - even offensive things - that other people don't agree with! ¬†
Janet Albrechtsen, writing in The Australian, wrote an insightful article last week about the situation regarding this UN 'defamation of religion law'. Read her excellent article - click here.¬†
Our¬†Prime Minister, Julia Gillard,¬†was at the UN recently, lobbying for a seat on the UN Security Council - many of the nations she met with are small Islamic nations.¬†We cannot afford to trade their support for a Security Council seat¬†for our support for 'defamation of religion' laws or any compromise (see below). ¬†
Fortunately Foreign Minister Bob Carr, who has consistently opposed religious vilification laws, spoke about his concern about religious defamation laws in an interview, from New York,¬†on Insiders last weekend. Read transcript/watch video. (In video, fast forward to 3 minute mark). ¬†
There is another¬†concern - 'religious tolerance law'
The spokesman for the OIC affirmed that this 'modified' compromise proposal had the "SAME AIMS"as the 'defamation of religion' motion - and they continued to have the same goal of eventually getter stronger prohibitions! ¬† Elizabeth Kendal warned last year that Resolution 16/18 (on religious tolerance)¬†"far from being a breakthrough for free speech ... is actually more dangerous than" the religious defamation resolutions.She wrote, "Indeed, the strategic shift from defamation to incitement actually advances the OIC's primary goal: the criminalization of criticism of Islam."
President Obama's speech to the UN last week included this statement: "the "future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam." Read article.¬†¬†
Any support of 'religious tolerance laws' means supporting similar laws to Victoria's Racial and Religious Tolerance law. The fact that the OIC thinks they have the same AIMS as their 'defamation of religion (Islam) laws should give a clear indication of why they are being proposed.¬†¬†
Action - Contact PM Julia Gillard and Sen Bob Carr
Please write to Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Foreign Minister, Senator Bob Carr.
- Ask both of them to ensure that Australian Votes AGAINST the¬†proposal from the OIC at the UN for 'defamation of religion' laws.