Second interim report: Freedom of religion and belief, the Australian experience

Inquiry into the status of the human right to freedom of religion or belief
Freedom of speech Freedom of religion Human rights Australia

Terms of reference

The Committee shall examine the status of the freedom of religion or belief (as recognised in Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) around the world, including in Australia. The Committee shall have particular regard to:

  1. The enjoyment of freedom of religion or belief globally, the nature and extent of violations and abuses of this right and the causes of those violations or abuses;
  2. Action taken by governments, international organisations, national human rights institutions, and non-government organisations to protect the freedom of religion or belief, promote religious tolerance, and prevent violations or abuses of this right;
  3. The relationship between the freedom of religion or belief and other human rights, and the implications of constraints on the freedom of religion or belief for the enjoyment of other universal human rights;
  4. Australian efforts, including those of Federal, State and Territory governments and non-government organisations, to protect and promote the freedom of religion or belief in Australia and around the world, including in the Indo-Pacific region.

The inquiry should have regard to developments since the Committee last reported on Australia’s efforts to promote and protect freedom of religion or belief in November 2000.

Report structure

  • The First Interim Report tabled in November 2017 examined the legal foundation of religious freedom in Australia, focusing on a selection of submissions from, and public hearings with, legal academics and experts in human rights law. The findings of that report are briefly discussed in an overview in Chapter 2.
  • Chapter 3 will discuss the range of concerns about religious freedom in Australia raised throughout public hearings and submissions. Some general concerns are discussed, and the specific concerns of particular religious or community groups are examined in turn.
  • Chapter 4 discusses some of the possible solutions or improvements that could be made in Australia. This includes a broad discussion of the various suggestions made by witnesses and in submissions, as well as referring to the suggestions highlighted in the First Interim Report.
  • Chapter 5 discusses the finding of the Australian Government’s Religious Freedom Review and the Government’s response to the Review’s recommendations.
  • Finally, Chapter 6 provides Sub-Committee comment and makes two Recommendations.
Related Information

Legal foundations of religious freedom in Australia: interim report

Religious Freedom Review: report of the expert panel

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