Law and religion in the Asia-Pacific

About the program

One of the most significant issues faced by societies today concerns the complex and contested relationship between the state and religion. The issues that arise concern a wide array of religions and religious practices, some expressed individually, others in and through religious communities; some manifested privately, others in public, often with considerable legal and political ramifications. The issues that arise also involve a variety of states and state policies towards religion, some relatively inclusive and tolerant, others more exclusive, intolerant and even oppressive.

Much of the discussion of these issues internationally has been shaped by predominantly European and North American perspectives to the neglect of the unique, instructive and challenging experiences of countries in the Asia-Pacific region. As Australia’s multicultural mosaic becomes increasingly plural and varied, it is vital that the complex law and religion issues that arise both within Australia and within the Asia-Pacific region are subjected to sustained academic attention. A deeper understanding of these issues is of profound scholarly interest and of great significance for the development of government policy.

The Law and Religion program was established in 2018 by the School of Law to contribute to the discussion of these issues and their policy implications, focussing on their manifestation within the Asia-Pacific region.

Aims

The Law and Religion program will address a range of strategically selected law and religion issues through carefully designed research projects and training programs for which financial support will be sought from government and non-government funding agencies.

By bringing together academic staff and students from UQ Law, the program will:

  • contribute to the university’s research profile by promoting the production of high-quality scholarship in an increasingly important field of inquiry;
  • enrich the learning experience of students at UQ with an interest in law and religion issues through research-led teaching;
  • provide opportunities for graduate students to undertake supported research into complex and challenging law and religion issues;
  • contribute to the development of government policy in relation to law and religion issues, particularly as they are manifested within the Asia-Pacific region.

Areas of research

The Law and Religion program will promote international, comparative and interdisciplinary research on a wide range of topics including:

  • A workshop-based comparative study of constitutional relations between state law and religious law in countries within the Asia-Pacific region, culminating in an scholarly book written by country experts and edited by Law and Religion program scholars.
  • A workshop-based international and interdisciplinary study of the relationship between religion and constitutionalism, culminating in a scholarly book written by disciplinary experts in the fields of legal history, constitutional law and political theology, and edited by Law and Religion program scholars.
  • An assessment of the conformity of Australian domestic law to internationally-protected human rights of freedom of religion, freedom of expression and freedom of association, undertaken by Law and Religion program scholars.
  • An interdisciplinary colloquium and training program on the topic of women, law and religion in Pacific Island countries, initiated and led by Law and Religion program scholars.
  • A study of the intersectional issues that arise in relation to the treatment of persons with disabilities from religious and government policy standpoints, particularly within the Asia-Pacific region, assessed from the vantage point of international human rights law.
  • Development of a government-supported training program for human rights lawyers working in the Asia-Pacific region, with a particular focus on issues of freedom of religion, freedom of expression and freedom of association.
  • Hosting, with the Centre for Public, International and Comparative Law, the Commission on Legal Pluralism Conference in July 2020. Scholars from the Law and Religion program will also convene a Panel session on legal pluralism and religion.

Contact

Law and Religion in the Asia-Pacific Region
UQ Law School
The University of Queensland
St Lucia  QLD 4072
Australia