Senate Inquiry on the Government’s Exposure Draft of the Marriage Amendment Bill
Tuesday, 07 February 2017 20:53
Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils (FABC)’s Submission
The Buddhist position on gender quality and same sex marriage
In Buddhist traditions, there is no fixed or mandated form of marriage and from a Buddhist point of view there is no such thing as a single fixed, natural, or pre-ordained form of marriage.
Buddhist texts do not contain prohibitions on same-sex marriage. Nor do they contain anti-LGBTQ views.
Our principles are guided by wisdom and compassion, and our concern here is for the alleviating of suffering of marginalized people. The empirical evidence strongly supports the contention that ending the ban on same-sex marriage creates a positive outcome for LGBTQ people
The FABC position on the Bill
We welcome and support the Bill introducing Civil Marriage equality in Australia. We applaud the government for this Bill however we humbly ask for the deletion of S 47A of the Bill.
Ideally, no Marriage Celebrant under the Civil Marriage Act should be entitled to refuse to solemnise a marriage against a person’s sexual orientation. This would be legalised discrimination. However, we understand the need to protect religious freedoms and for that reason, we are agreeable to Religious Marriage Celebrants being legally entitled to refuse to solemnise a marriage based on the celebrant’s conscientious or religious beliefs. However, it is our view that this right should not extend to Civil Marriage celebrants.
In our view, Civil Marriage Celebrants should not be empowered by the law to discriminate against the LGBTIQ community. We believe that one of the purposes of the law is to protect and strengthen the whole community. Imagine how it would feel to be told that acivilservice is being legally denied to you onlyon the basis of personal prejudice against you. That would be bring much unnecessary harm and is unacceptable from a Buddhist standpoint
For the reasons above, a deletion of Section 47A of the Bill is necessary.
Cecilia Mitra LLB hons (Singapore LLM (UWA)
President Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils (FABC)
Note: You can view the Submission on the Parliament of Australia website by clicking here (page 4, number 78)
Wednesday, 21 December 2016 16:19
We take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy and Peaceful Christmas and New Year.
We look forward to more dialogue and working together with the government and the different faith groups in harmony.
May all be well and happy!
Buddhism Teachers Struggling to Keep Up with Demand from State Schools
New South Wales public schools are struggling to keep up with demand for Buddhism scripture teachers.
Buddhist Council of New South Wales chairman Brian White said there were more than 3,000 public school students across the state studying Buddhism, and the number was growing rapidly.
"It's driven by a few things — general raising of awareness in meditation right across society and how beneficial that can be, and the realisation that even six and seven-year-olds can meditate for a few minutes and benefit from that," Mr White said.
Statement on Racial Discrimination Act (Section 18C)
Saturday, 10 December 2016 21:27
The Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils (FABC)’s Statement on the proposed change to Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA)
The FABC does not support any change to Section18C of the RDA.
The FABC supports right speech which is part of the teachings of the Buddha.
The FABC is of the view that there should be a balance between freedom of expression and the freedom to be protected from speech which offends, insults, humiliates or intimidates someone because of his or her race.
No freedom is absolute and the freedom of expression should not override the freedom to be protected from racially offensive behaviour.
The FABC is of the view that the section18C in its current form read together with section 18D provides the right balance.
Section 18C makes it unlawful to do an act which is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to ‘offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate' someone because of his or her race.
Section18D protects any fair comment or reporting on a matter of public interest, and any sentiment expressed ‘in the course of any statement, publication, discussion or debate made or held for any genuine academic, artistic or scientific purpose’.
On 10 November, the signatures on the COP22 Interfaith Statement will be delivered at handover event and the COP22 President has been invited to receive it. In addition to eminent faith leaders signing the Statement, we are also inviting all people of faith and goodwill to sign to show their support to our Statement. Add your voice to show your support of this important statement.
Condolences on the passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej
Monday, 17 October 2016 20:51
17 October 2016
His Excellency Mr Chirachai Punkrasin Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Royal Thai Embassy 111 Empire circuit Yarralumla ACT 2600
Please accept the sincere and heartfelt condolences on the passing of King Bhumibol from all member groups and members of The Federation of Buddhist Councils of Australia.
His Majesty King Bhumibol was a great leader of Thailand and the Thai people for seven decades, and used his compassion and wisdom and great leadership skills combined with Buddhist principles to guide the Nation through many challenges. He will surely be deeply missed.
We fellow Buddhists from all traditions in Australia, have deep faith that these guiding principles of Buddha’s teachings will endure and continue to light the way of the future for His Majesty’s successor.
As you know, there are strong links between people of all faiths in both our countries, but especially within the Buddhist communities, and ethnic Thai communities living in Australia, where exist many long and deep ties which will continue always.
May the memory of the excellent qualities of His Majesty warm our hearts into the future.
Cecilia Mitra (LLB Singapore, LLM UWA) President Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils Inc. e:
Statement on the Proposed Plebiscite on Same Sex Marriage (SSM)
Tuesday, 27 September 2016 21:51
The FABC does not support the Proposed Plebiscite on SSM.
The Federal Parliament already has the Constitutional mandate to legalise SSM as per the 2013 High Court Decision of The Commonwealth of Australia v The Australian Capital Territory  HCA 55. Hence a plebiscite is not necessary.
The FABC’s position is that marriage between two consenting adults is a basic human right.
The FABC is of the view that holding a plebiscite on SSM will bring more pain and suffering to the LGBTI community based on a similar experience in the Republic of Ireland. Holding a plebiscite on SSM would be providing a platform for the incitement of more discrimination against the LGBTI community.
For the reasons stated above, it would be according to the teachings of the Buddha that such a plebiscite would be unethical.
Statement on section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act
Friday, 16 September 2016 21:19
The FABC does not support Senator Cori Bernardi’s proposal to amend section18c of the Racial Discrimination Act.
18c relates only to race and not religion and should not be watered down to remove the words “insult or offend”. One has no choice in the color of his/her skin, race, ethnicity or origin and should be protected by the law against harmful or hurtful speech and not merely hate speech that is directed to race.
We are the view that section18c in its original form is a good law and should remain unamended. Whilst it prevents bigotry against race (something a person cannot change), it protects freedom of speech against unacceptable religious practices.
RACIAL DISCRIMINATION ACT 1975 - SECT 18C Offensive behaviour because of race, colour or national or ethnic origin (1) It is unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if: (a) the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people; and (b) the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all of the people in the group.
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia - Project Completed!
Monday, 12 September 2016 22:42
The FABC is a proud supporter of this project which was a video snapshot of Buddhism in Australia. Please click here to watch video interviews of some of the major Buddhist personalities of Australia. These videos were conducted by Deakin University. Project by Dr Anna Halafoff, Senior Lecturer in Sociology and project co-workers Edwin and Praveena. Camera & Editing by Freeman Trebilcock.
Census Night - Tuesday the 9th August
Sunday, 07 August 2016 17:47
Tuesday the 9th of August 2016 is Census night in Australia. The Census provides a snapshot of the nation at that point in time. It collects vital information on the social, economic and housing characteristics of everyone in Australia.
It is important for all Buddhists that we tick the right box under religious affiliation rather than the “no religion” box. The benefits we receive from the government in terms of funding etc. will ultimately depend on our numbers. If we can still continue as the largest minority religion, we will be more likely to be heard by the government. The website to go to for details is as follows;
www.census.abs.gov.au and the phone number to call is 1300 214 531 (toll free).
Please see below for a link to how-to videos in languages such as English, Vietnamese, Korean, Mandarin and Cantonese: