The Spectral Ground: Religious Belief Discrimination

Macquarie University
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Macquarie Law Journal, 2009, 9 pp. 71 - 91
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This article considers the ground of religious belief under anti-discrimination law and argues that it is a spectral ground. Religious belief is never defined under anti-discrimination law; it merely has to be 'lawful', which is also not defined. This gives the proscription a permeable character, allowing mainstream Christianity, neoconservatism and other variables to seep in. An analysis of discrimination complaints shows how this occurs metonymically through other proscribed grounds, such as sexuality, ethnicity and race. The phenomenon is most marked post-9/11 in relation to 'Islamophobia'. The proscription of religious vilification and incitement to religious hatred further reveals the tendency of the spectral ground to absorb prevailing political influences.
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