6th May, 2016

The Australian Christian Lobby has welcomed news that anti-discrimination case against Hobart's Catholic Archbishop Julian Porteous and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has been dropped after the complaint which sparked it was withdrawn.

It was reported this week that transgender rights activist Martine Delaney had withdrawn her complaint to Tasmania's Anti-Discrimination Commission to avoid a lengthy tribunal battle. Her complaint had centered on a Catholic Church booklet, Don't Mess With Marriage, which Ms Delaney, a Greens candidate in the upcoming federal election, has claimed marginalised lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex Australians in an offensive and insulting way.

Lyle Shelton, the ACL's managing director, said it was a "travesty of justice" that Tasmania's Anti-Discrimination Commissioner had believed the archbishop had a case to answer simply for distributing the booklet.

He said that the archbishop's actions were "completely reasonable" and that he should "have the right to express a point-of-view on marriage". Mr Shelton described the case as an example of a state-based human rights commission being "weaponised" by activists against those with different views.

Echoing previous calls for anti-discrimination laws to be temporarily set aside during the debate over same-sex marriage, Mr Shelton said such a move would not be unprecedented and cited a clause in a UK act which protects discussions or criticism concerning the sex of parties to a marriage.

"When the law stops decent people from saying reasonable things, it is defective," he said.

~ www.acl.org.au

- DAVID ADAMS