Influential Australian journalist Andrew Denton has launched a new campaign for assisted dying in Australia, and called on the Catholic Church to "stay out" of the euthanasia debate.
Denton, a well-known radio and television personality, delivered a scathing address to the Australian Press Club on Wednesday in which he called for rapid law reform: "To the politicians of South Australia...and to those of Victoria, Tasmania and NSW, who can expect new Bills within the year – I urge you: Do your duty."
Denton claimed that the failure to legalise euthanasia in the country was the result of a "subterranean" network of religious politicians and businessmen.
"...on the questions that are most fundamental to how we live, love and die, religious belief trumps everything. This is the theocracy hidden inside our democracy."
He also used the occasion to launch a pro-euthanasia lobby group Go Gentle Australia.
Denton’s speech generated significant controversy. The Australian Christian Lobby slammed the media personality for his misguided claims of a “religious conspiracy”, and for sending a negative message to vulnerable people.
Denton also accused Labor shadow minister Tony Burke of stifling earlier attempts to legalise euthanasia. Burke rejected the claims: “Pretending my faith determines my political views hits a pretty clear wall when you consider my support for marriage equality. The claim past debates were driven solely by religion doesn’t explain why many atheists and people such as Lindsay Tanner and Barry Jones held the same view as me.”
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