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Human Rights Commission accepts that a child is a person

Posted by Secular on February 7, 2019

A child is actually a person but it took a lot of effort to get the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission to admit it. The acknowledgement is made in a letter from the Commission.

The various international human rights declarations and treaties refer to “everyone” as having such rights. The Victorian  Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities refers to “every person” as having the declared rights. Does a child have these rights? Yes.

These include the rights under section 14 of the Charter. These are the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion; the freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his or her choice; and, a person must not be coerced or restrained in a way that limits his or her freedom to have or adopt a religion or belief.

Are these rights of the child being protected? Hardly. The whole purpose of religious instruction in schools would seem to be to persuade or coerce a child into adopting a particular religion. Effectively this is indoctrination or the brainwashing of the child.

This is inconsistent with the rights of the child and not in the interests of the child. Yet it is widely deemed as not only acceptable, but desirable, and the process receives more than $10 billion annually in government funding to facilitate it.

Our society has a massive blind spot when it comes to the religious freedom rights of the child and this needs to be recognised and corrected.

The Commission has previously stated that “for a religious belief to be accepted, it must be genuinely held (1). Can a child be said to have a genuine religious belief? A child is certainly not born with a particular religious belief. Upon first attending school, religious institutions do not regard a child as already having a genuine belief, hence their strenuous efforts to instill one.

When pressed on this issue, the Commission states that it “does not have a position” on whether a child has a religion. In a further telephone conversation with the Commission they advised that they were “not interested” in discussing whether a child should be free from coercion in religion in a school.

This is not acceptable. In separate proceedings, we have identified that a child sufferers many detriments by being forced to adopt a religion. These can include threats to their health and safety, psychological welfare and educational opportunity. This is particularly the case if a child is forced to wear a particular kind of religious clothing,

The rights and welfare of children in our society should be of paramount concern. In this regard, they are not.

State authorities, including the Department of Education, and the Commission, have a responsibility to uphold and defend rights as declared in the Charter of Rights and Responsibilities.

They are derelict in this responsibility. Children are the victims. It is now time for a thorough reassessment of our attitudes in this regard.

John Perkins
President
Secular Party of Australia
www.secular.org.au
0411 143744

28 January 2019
Media Release

1. Beliefs must be genuinely held, see paragraph 56, VEOHRC submission to VCAT at:
https://www.humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au/home/submissions/legal-submissions/item/1598-arora-v-melton-christian-college-vcat-jul-2017

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