4.115 Generally speaking, Australians are not constrained in the exercise of religious freedom. There are only a few provisions in Commonwealth laws that interfere with religious freedom.
4.116 A diverse range of stakeholders raised concerns about the scope and application of the religious organisation exemptions in ss 37 and 39 of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth). While these provisions do not, on their face, interfere with religious freedom, some stakeholders objected to the form of the exemptions, arguing against the practice of defining religious freedom by way of exceptions to generally applicable laws. Others argued that the exemptions are an unjustifiable encroachment on the principle of non-discrimination. There have been several recent inquiries conducted by the Australian Human Rights Commission and by parliamentary committees into the operation of anti-discrimination legislation.
4.117 The solemnisation provisions for wedding celebrants in the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) raise practical concerns about the authorisation of religious celebrants. Review of these provisions may be desirable. The ALRC is interested on further comment on whether and to what extent the solemnisation provisions in the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) unjustifiably interfere with freedom of religion.