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Architectural Design Controls on Places of Worship in Australia: State Encroachment on Religious Expression and Exercise

In: Religion & Human Rights
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  • 1 Monash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
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Abstract

This article analyses the ramifications to the right to religious freedom when the design of proposed places of worship is subjected to architectural design controls imposed by Australian planning authorities. First, such design controls can impinge on the freedom of religious expression—that is, the ability of religious communities to express their beliefs through their built structures. Such expression of beliefs may be vital to their prescribed manner of worship, observance, practice or teaching. Second, they can pose a physical obstacle to a religious group’s freedom of religious exercise—that is, their actual conduct of rituals, ceremonies and other kinds of worship. It is argued that the rigid application of design controls hinders the ability of religious groups in Australia to fully exercise their right to establish and maintain places of worship which is a constituent element of the right to religious freedom as guaranteed in international human rights law.

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