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The Brief Pod: Freedom of religion, or freedom to discriminate?

07 November 2018

This week on The Brief, Margaret Thornton surveys the legal landscape as Australia debates whether religious schools should be allowed to discriminate on sexuality.

A government review of freedom of religion laws in Australia last month sparked outrage after it suggested that faith-based schools ought to have the right to turn away gay students and teachers. This week on The Brief, we hear from Professor Margaret Thornton about Australia’s legal ambiguity when it comes to religion and discrimination. Topics discussed include what the proposed religious exemptions would involve, whether employment and educational discrimination should be treated differently, and how Australia’s secular-religious divide has changed over the last 20 years.

Listen to the podcast here.

Margaret Thornton is Professor of Law at the Australian National University, specialising in socio-legal issues and feminist scholarship. She is a Barrister of the Supreme Court of NSW and the High Court of Australia, and has published extensively on issues relating to discrimination and the law.

Edwina Landale is the presenter of The Brief. She is a student of Politics, Philosophy, and Economics at the ANU.

Show notes | The following were referred to in this episode:

God Under Howard: The rise of the religious right in Australian politics by Marion Maddox

Policy Forum Pod is available on iTunes, Stitcher, and wherever you get your podcasts. We’d love to hear your feedback for this podcast series! Send in your questions, comments, or suggestions for future episodes to You can also Tweet us @APPSPolicyForum or find us on Facebook.

This episode of Policy Forum Pod was written and produced by Edwina Landale.

This post and podcast was first published on, Crawford School’s platform for public policy debate, analysis, views, and discussion.

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