5.154  There is no obvious evidence that Commonwealth anti-discrimination laws significantly encroach on freedom of religion in Australia, especially given the existing exemptions for religious organisations. Nevertheless, concerns about freedom of religion should be considered in future initiatives directed towards the consolidation of Commonwealth anti-discrimination laws, or harmonisation of Commonwealth, state and territory anti-discrimination laws. In particular, further consideration should be given to whether freedom of religion should be protected through a general limitations clause rather than exemptions.

5.155  Some concerns have been raised in relation to the solemnisation provisions for marriage celebrants in the Marriage Act and, in particular, provisions which make the solemnisation of marriage by an unauthorised celebrant a criminal offence. These provisions have been argued to act as a fetter on religious freedoms. On the other hand, the Marriage Act may be interpreted as regulating legal marriages, and not purely religious ceremonies. Reforms to clarify the position, or to more clearly separate the civil act from the religious act of solemnising the marriage may be desirable.