When faced with relentless attempts to silence, punish and ostracise them for living out their faith in public, Christians are increasingly left with no option but to defend their religious freedom rights through legal avenues.
And as the frequency and intensity of these challenges grow, it is clear that there is an urgent need for more lawyers to be equipped and trained to defend ordinary Australians in the future.
We can no longer take religious freedom and human rights for granted in Australia.
That’s why the HRLA is launching its inaugural Legal Academy, scheduled for later this month.
Every day, we encounter ordinary Australians who face discrimination and sanctions for living out their faith in public.
Dr Jereth Kok has been unable to practise medicine for the past four years following a complaint about his social media posts. Lyle Shelton was forced to defend a vilification claim because of blog posts he wrote that were critical of drag queen story time. Christian couple Byron and Keira Hordyk were denied the opportunity to become foster parents due to their Biblical views on marriage. And countless more ordinary Australians face pressure in their workplaces, universities, and even in their homes to conform to ideologies that go against their faith.
The good news though is that with HRLA’s help, the Hordyks and Lyle Shelton were successful in defending their rights.
These wins highlight the importance of legal precedents that will uphold religious freedom rights.
Speaking about these recent cases in the media, HRLA Principal Lawyer John Steenhof noted the importance of creating a protective barrier for those wishing to exercise their freedom of speech and religious expression:
We got a great interpretation of this law and next time an activist wants to go up against someone like Lyle, or another everyday Australian who says, ‘I don’t think drag queens should be telling stories to kids, these are dangerous role models,’ they will think twice.
More legal precedents that protect religious freedom into the future will mean that “we really start to develop a fence and a defence for people who want to speak their mind and engage in free speech”.
That’s why HRLA exists. To defend people like Lyle Shelton, the Hordyks, Dr Jereth Kok and countless other ordinary Australians who find themselves in trouble.
That’s why this Legal Academy is so important.
We are looking forward to this opportunity to equip and train our next generation of legal advocates to defend our fundamental freedoms.
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