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Dear Commissioners, Endeavour Forum Inc. is a national women's pro-family NGO which has special consultative status with the Economic & Social Council of the UN.

We believe Australia does have freedom of religion and belief and that any legislation or regulations on this issue will restrict rather than increase freedom. We wish to address two areas in which the rights of ordinary Australians (rather than those living in the rarefied offices of the AHRC) will be adversely affected by legislation on freedom of religion and belief. In our view the AHRC is promoting the idea of such legislation (A) to restrict criticism of Islam and sharia law and (B) to restrict criticisms of homosexual practices and reduce the exemptions enjoyed by religious institutions or individuals who do not wish to employ practising homosexuals.

(A): The encroachment of Islamic sharia law, imposed on Victorians through the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act are already having a restrictive impact on Australians freedom of speech and freedom of religion. This was illustrated in the prolonged litigation between the Islamic Council of Victoria and Catch the Fire Ministries. The two Christian pastors who were the victims of the prosecution in this case were providing a critical analysis of Islam to their congregations, but they were charged with vilification. Australians should be free to promote their own religion and criticise other religions. This is different to defaming individuals. We have already seen in Europe that those individuals who are brave enough to criticise Islam and sharia law have to be protected by security guards because their lives are in danger. Geert Wilders, a Dutch parliamentarian, is refused entry to the UK because the Muslims don't like his film "Fitna" - one could go on and on about the encroachments on freedom of speech and religion imposed by legislation allegedly promoting "freedom of religion". We would suggest that Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick try living in Saudi Arabia (not in the Australian embassy) as an ordinary (pretend Muslim) woman with an ordinary family, before the AHRC drafts any recommendations.

I have lived in India (before Partition) in Muslim-majority provinces and I know first-hand the restrictions and cruelties imposed on women by sharia. Below is a book review which illustrates the points we wish to make:

Book Review: Throwing the book at sharia law by Patrick Keeney, National Post, 6 February 2009 “Cruel and Usual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Implications of Islamic Law” by Nonie Darwish, Thomas Nelson 272 pp.; $28.99


Nonie Darwish, an Egyptian immigrant to America who was raised a devout Muslim, is blunt: "Sharia is Islam, and Islam is Sharia." In her estimation, Islam is a backward and authoritarian ideology that is attempting to impose on the world the norms of seventh-century Bedouin life. For her, Islam is a sinister force that must be resisted and contained. Part memoir, part history and part Qur'anic exegesis, the author provides an unsettling catalogue of Sharia-based practices: the subjugation and brutalization of women, the persecution of homosexuals, honour killings, the beheading of apostates and the stoning of adulterers. Unlike others who attribute such barbarities to extremism or fundamentalism or the hijacking of a "peaceful" religion by fanatics, Nonie doesn't flinch: Such depraved practices arise directly from the Qur'an itself, a text that is "violent, incendiary, and disrespectful." Nonie Darwish is careful to distinguish between people and ideas: "The purpose of this book is not to spread hatred of a people but to tell the truth about the wickedness of Islamic Sharia law." She divides her book into "The Family" and "The State" and, under these two banners, documents the injustices, the suffering and cultural backwardness perpetuated under Islam and Sharia. These squalid practices extract a price: Ultimately, she writes, Sharia destroys a nation's "inner vitality, blurs its vision, befogs its critical faculties, and .... saps all the springs of culture." How, she wonders, could once great nations - Egypt, Persia, Iraq, Syria and Turkey - have "strangled themselves with the most barbaric, oppressive, and demeaning laws on earth for fourteen hundred years?"

The author is at her best when contrasting Sharia law with Western conceptions of justice. She is particularly zealous in her defence of individual freedom and equality before the law, both of which are alien to Islam. While Western morality stems from a belief in the inherent dignity of the person and so revolves around such central concepts as personal autonomy and individual conscience, Islam demands from its adherents total "submission" (its literal meaning) to the word of Allah.


In stark contrast to our bedrock notion of creedal forbearance and equality before the law, Sharia divides the world into Dar al-Islam, or House of Submission, and the Dar al- Harb, or House of War, so-called because it will take holy war (jihad) to bring it into the House of Submission. Islamic jurisprudence is dualistic, dividing the world into Muslims and everyone else. It stands in stark contrast to notions of religious pluralism, and treats "infidels" (nonbelievers) as inferiors, producing laws that "subjugate and humiliate non-Muslims, and that produce a dysfunctional and angry society." Nonie Darwish remarks that "Americans ... cannot comprehend that an entire religion and its culture believes God orders the killing of unbelievers.

"But what is truly terrifying is the catastrophic reality of women under Sharia law. Camouflaged as Allah's will, "The oppression of women, sexual enslavement, and even violence and murder were given honourable names."

Nonie Darwish analyzes the dire consequences - for both the individual and the society - of such practices as polygamy, "temporary marriages" (prostitution), divorce (the husband repeats "I divorce you" three times) and child marriage (pedophilia). But most horrific of all is the Sharia-endorsed practice of honour killing. Women who bring shame and disgrace to their families (for such "crimes" as being raped, or for talking to a male in public without a chaperone) are killed to restore the family's honour - in the name of Allah. Nonie Darwish is unequivocal: Wherever it has been instituted, Sharia law has resulted in a morally repugnant, codified misogyny. For Muslim apologists to suggest otherwise is casuistry, pure and simple. Simply put, Sharia is incompatible with any state that has as a foundational principle the equality of the sexes before the law. She condemns those who perpetuate the Sharia-endorsed hatred of women, and rebukes those who, faced with the status of women under Sharia, are complicit by their silence.

Multiculturalism is premised on the belief that there exists a moral equivalency among cultures and religions. For Nonie Darwish, this is either naïve sentimentality or a wilful turning away from reality. Just as the human body finds some substances toxic, so too are some ideas and practices inimical to human flourishing. The reality is that Islam and Sharia form a retrograde ideology that adds greatly to the world's stock of misery. Accordingly, she asks that we speak frankly about what the Qur'an demands from believers, and consider carefully Islam's brutal and impoverished vision. The West, she says, must face up to this stark truth. • Patrick Keeney is the North American editor of Prospero. He is based in Kelowna, British Columbia.

(B) The promotion of homosexuality: Any Australian Human Rights Commission recommendations on freedom of religion and belief will be designed to limit the exemptions currently available to religious institutions and individuals in regard to the employment of practising homosexuals. At the present time any individual or organisation which makes factually correct statements that sodomy spreads disease (e.g. that WHO now admits that AIDS is primarily a disease of homosexual men), that children thrive best when raised with a mother and a father and not by homosexual couples, or that of the homosexuals who sincerely wish to change their orientation some can change to heterosexuality, is labelled "homophobic" and punished accordingly, e.g. Warwick Marsh, founder of the Fatherhood Foundation who was sacked as an "Ambassador for Men's Health" by Nicola Roxon, Federal Health Minister. The homosexual agenda is not merely about removing "discrimination" against homosexuals but about promoting the lifestyle to young children, about forcing individuals and organisations to accept that there is no intrinsic difference between homosexuality and heterosexuality, and about demanding


homosexual "marriage". Although homosexual "marriage" is not legal in Australia, same-sex registers are and many of the implications of what is happening in Massachusetts apply to Australia. Australians must be free to criticise and reject these initiatives. Anyone who thinks that same-sex registers or civil unions are a benign eccentricity which won't affect the average person will realise that these policies have become a hammer to force the acceptance and normalization of homosexuality on everyone.

The public schools

Homosexual speakers and sex-education programs present the myth that there is no difference between homosexuality and heterosexuality, and students are encouraged to “explore their sexuality” - this at a time when they are reaching puberty and are sensitive to propaganda. In primary school children are regaled with “fairy” stories about “The King and King”, or “Heather has two Mommies”. Because same-sex marriage is legal in Massachusetts (civil unions in Australia) a US federal judge has ruled that schools now have a duty to portray homosexual relationships as normal to children, despite what parents think or believe.


Businesses are often "tested" for tolerance by homosexual activists. Groups of homosexual activists often go into restaurants or bars and publicly kiss and fondle each other to test whether the establishment demonstrates sufficient "equality". Homosexual newspapers list businesses which are “gay friendly” and threaten boycotts against those that are not.

Adoption of children to homosexual couples

Homosexuals now demand to be able to adopt children just like married heterosexual couples. Homosexuals now appear to be put in line for adopting children ahead of heterosexual parents. As homosexuals are less than 2% of the population, and not all of these are in long-term committed relationships, why do adoption agencies give them any children for adoption when there are so few children available and so many married, heterosexual couples on waiting lists? Research shows that homosexual relationships are fundamentally dysfunctional on many levels, with relatively high levels of domestic violence. Catholic Charities in Boston decided to abandon handling adoptions rather than submit to regulations requiring them to allow homosexuals to adopt the children in their care. Such regulations conflict with freedom of religion and in Australia we should reject them.



Member Organisation, World Council for Life and Family

NGO in Special Consultative Status with ECOSOC of the UN