Proposed changes to marriage laws will lead to the inadvertent recognition of Sharia law marriage, polygamy and divorce in Australia.
Any changes to marriage laws to please one minority group will result in calls for other minority groups to also have their views on marriage enshrined in law as well. Furthermore, proposals have already been put forward to recognise all religious marriages in order to ensure that any changes to marriage laws do not limit freedom of religion or political communication.
The Liberal candidate for Goldstein and former Freedom Commissioner, Tim Wilson, has admitted that recognition of homosexual marriage would limit these freedoms. His proposed solution, published on his website, states (emphasis added):
So long as we, pardon the pun, marry all these traditions in one institution there will be angst about the nature of the law. If the law excludes same-sex couples, there will be injustice. If people of faith are forced to act against their conscience, their human rights will also be breached.
This problem can be resolved. The proposition is simple: we separate the civil and religious traditions of marriage, but treat them equally in law.
In practice it works along these lines. The Marriage Act would recognise civil marriages. A civil marriage is defined as a union between two people voluntarily entered into for life and can be solemnised by a licensed civil celebrant. The act will also recognise religious marriages in different religious traditions in a different section of the text.
Under the proposal put forward by this high-profile Liberal candidate, Islamic Sharia law marriages would be recognised under Australian law. This would include polygamy, and would lead to the recognition of Sharia law in custody disputes, divorce and other areas of family law.
Sharia law marriage tribunals already operate unofficially in Australia. These Sharia tribunals are not legally recognised but participants can voluntarily submit to their rulings which can then be lodged in the Family Court. Sharia tribunals are officially recognised as part of the UK legal system. Under Sharia law, women are severely disadvantaged in disputes over marriage, divorce, custody and estate distribution.
Marriage is the fundamental building block of our society. It is too important for radical changes to be made without any thought for the consequences.
Both Bill Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull need to reject Tim Wilson’s proposal and rule out any actions that may take place after the election leading to the recognition of Islamic Sharia law marriage. They also need to outline what practical measures they will take to ensure freedom of religion and speech if marriage laws are changed to please the homosexual community.
The Australian Liberty Alliance’s position is clear: it does not support any change to Australian marriage laws.