HRLA pushes back against anti-freedom laws

Religious Australians are facing a growing number of threats in 2024 with multiple new laws presenting serious dangers to religious freedom in Australia.

As a law firm established to protect and advance the religious freedom of all Australians, HRLA is focused on the dual tasks of providing legal representation and advice to individuals targeted for living out their faith in public, and challenging new laws and reforms designed to limit religious freedom.

Providing considered and focused submissions to public inquiries ensures HRLA has input into public policy issues that affect religious freedom. These submissions allow us to clearly outline the reasons Christians oppose the anti-freedom reforms being pushed by governments and commissions around Australia, while promoting a positive vision of freedom for all.

Our work in the past year has been extensive; in 2023, HRLA actively engaged with the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) Review of Religious Exemptions, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) Human Rights Charter, and the contentious misinformation and disinformation bill.

The new year has brought a flood of concerning new proposals. Our focus has turned to the AHRC’s proposed Costs bill, with John Steenhof appearing before the Senate inquiry, the Productivity Commission’s Charities review, the South Australian Human Rights Act inquiry, and the Tasmanian   Conversion Therapy laws.

On the horizon is a Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee’s inquiry into "right wing extremist movements in Australia”. HRLA is preparing a submission to the inquiry, with a focus on ensuring the potential implications for freedom of speech are thoroughly considered.

A particularly concerning development is Alex Greenwich’s “Equality Bill” in New South Wales, which, despite lacking a public inquiry, presents multiple threats to religious freedom.

It is clear that each one of these is concerning for Australians of faith. The cumulative effect of the raft of anti-freedom laws and reforms being introduced around the country could severely undermine the basic rights of everyday Australians. These legislative reforms directly impact Christian schools, charities, churches, and parents. They not only threaten religious freedom but also encroach upon fundamental rights to freedom of speech, expression, and conscience.

That’s why it's important that HRLA continues its vigilance in scrutinising and responding to these developments, driven by our understanding of the significant impact these issues have not just on ordinary Australians, but on society more broadly. We exist to protect Australians whose freedoms are compromised by such laws and are not adequately protected in law.