Striking the balance: freedom of religion and equality under the Equal Opportunity Act

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Law Centre invite you to a panel discussion and Q&A to discuss the impact of a recent Victorian Supreme Court case about a Christian youth camp’s refusal to take a booking from a community health orgnaisation running suicide prevention workshops for same sex attracted young people.

The case, Christian Youth Camps (CYC) v Cobaw Community Health Services [2014] VSCA 75, was described by the President of the Court of Appeal as being of a scale and complexity without precedent in Victorian anti-discrimination law. The case concerned CYCs' refusal to take a holiday camp booking from Cobaw Community Health to run a suicide prevention workshop for same sex attracted young people because of the camp manager's objection to homosexuality.

The Court of Appeal confirmed VCAT's finding that CYC breached the Equal Opportunity Act 1995 by discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. In December 2014, the High Court refused CYC's application for special leave to appeal against the Court of Appeal's decision.

Speakers will address the following questions:

  • How does the law balance the right to equality and freedom of religion?
  • How do religious owned businesses operate in a secular market place?
  • What lessons does this case hold for future reform to Victoria’s equal opportunity laws?


  • The Hon. Justice Debbie Mortimer was appointed to the Federal Court in July 2013. Previously Senior Counsel at the Victorian Bar, Justice Mortimer was involved in many ground-breaking anti-discrimination cases, including appearing for Cobaw Community Health Services in the CYC v Cobaw proceedings.
  • Kate Eastman SC is a specialist in human rights, discrimination and public law, and appeared for the Commission in the CYC v Cobaw proceedings.
  • Anna Brown is Director of Advocacy and Strategic Litigation at the Human Rights Law Centre, Co-Convenor of the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby and works on discrimination law reform.
  • Angus McLeay has consulted and written on human rights, theology and sexuality for Christian media, religious bodies and law reform efforts.

Date: Thursday 4 June 2015
Time: 6pm–7.30pm (includes light refreshments and networking)
Venue: Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, Level 3, 204 Lygon Street, Carlton, VIC, 3053
RSVP: By Friday 29 May to

Please advise us of any accessibility or dietary requirements.