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AUSTRALIAN HUMANISTS, meeting in national convention in Sydney, at Humanist House, 10 Shepherd St, Chippendale, resolved on 3rd May as follows :
1. To express our dismay at recent events in the United Nations Human Rights Council, which seriously challenge the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights in this its sixtieth anniversary year.’
An amendment sponsored by Pakistan (28 March 2008) requires the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression to police and censor the exercise of freedom of expression. An impassioned and courageous plea from 21 Islamic NGO’s opposing it was ignored. The background to these events has been the increasing domination of the UN Human Rights Council by fundamentalist religious groups. Their essential argument is that religion is above criticism even on matters of policy. Humanists support freedom of religion but regard the basic human rights of the individual as enunciated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to be for all individuals.Sunday, 29 June 2008
2. That CAHS requests the Australian Government to do its utmost to secure a total global ban on all cluster munitions.’
On this issue Australian Humanists join with the International Physicians for Prevention of War, the Uniting Church and the Australian Red Cross.
These munitions have devastating effects on the civilian population and remain after the conflict. They are highly inaccurate but one bomb when exploded can cause hundreds of smaller explosions.
3. To applaud the Australian Government’s decision to end financial, legal and other discrimination which has been directed at same-sex couples.’
On May 3 Senator Lyn Allison was presented with the award of Australian Humanist of the Year, 2008 at Rydges Hotel and Conference Centre in the Sydney suburb of Camperdown.
In recognition of a vigorous and effective campaigner on public education, the environment, uranium mining and women’s issues initiating significant reform.
Her commitment to the democratic process and her constant emphasis on the secular character of our society show her to be an exemplary individual and a true Humanist.’
Senator Allison, in her reply expressed her appreciation at receiving the award, and spoke about her aims and achievements during her twelve years in the Senate and the many reforms still required. She described her role in defending the democratic rights of Parliamentarians.
Senator Allison, a declared and vocal non-religious secularist, was a speaker at the ’Separating church and state : keeping god out of government’ conference held in Melbourne in June 2006. In 2007, she was a speaker at a symposium on religion in Australian foreign policy.
An ex-teacher she supports the public school system and has opposed religious instruction in schools and the Howard government’s funding of school chaplains. She initiated inquiries into uranium mining which influenced the decision not to proceed with the Jabiluka mine.
She initiated the debate on RU-486 and with three other women sponsored the cross-party bill, which removed the Health Minister’s veto on RU 486.
As Australian Humanist of the Year 2008 Senator Allison follows Dr Inga Clendinnen the distinguished historian and essayist awarded Australian Humanist of the Year 2007.
Lyn Allison joins the ranks of a number of distinguished former Australian Humanists of the Year including : the late Professor Fred Hollows, Dr Tim Flannery, the late Donald Horne, Eva Cox, Phillip Adams and the late Justice Lionel Murphy.
A public session, examining whether Humanism and Feminism are compatible,was chaired by Eva Cox to end the Convention Sunday May 4.
Mrs Mary Bergin, Hon. Secretary, Council of Australian Humanist Societies 23 Caroline Drive, Lwr Templestowe, Vic. 3107. 03 9852 1023
Dr Alan McPhate, President, Council of Australian Humanist Societies 66 Watson Rd, Mt Martha, Vic. 3934. 03 5974 4096