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Opinion/Commentary

The ‘Religious Discrimination Bill was always an attack on the LGBTQ+ community

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The Religious Freedom Bill has been suspended indefinitely. Let’s hope it never sees the light of day.

This has been a big blow to Scott Morrison. It has disappointed conservatives and torn the Liberal National Party (LNP) apart.

The Religious Discrimination Bill has collapsed because it’s true intent has been exposed.

The ‘Folau clause’

This was the first victim of the Religious Discrimination Bill’s collapse.

Israel Folau was a Rugby Union champion who was sacked in 2019 after he repeatedly defied Rugby AustralIa by posting anti – LGBTQ posts on social media.

The last offending post was a paraphrase of modern translations of 1 Corinthians 6:9.

Folau threatened to sue Rugby Australia for religious discrimination. The case was settled outside court and Rugby Australia paid an undisclosed settlement to Folau.

The ‘Folau clause’ would have prevented employees being sacked under similar circumstances.

Citipointe Christian College contract controversy

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About a month ago, Citipointe Christian College in Brisbane came under fire after their enrolment contract that was leaked.

The contract denied the identities of trans and non – binary people. They also listed homosexuality as a sin among bestiality and paedophilia.

This caused fear for LGBTQ+ students. School principal, Brian Melhuran denied that students have been expelled for being LGBTQ+.

A former Citipointe Christian College student also alleged that students were shown a video of a person being beheaded in class as a deterrent to being LGBTQ+. Staff allegedly told students that’s what will happen in Hell.

The backlash against the school has been fierce. A change.org petition calling for a revocation of the contract gained over 150,000 signatures. In contrast, an Australian Christian Lobby petition defending the school has around 41,000 signatures.

As a result, Mulheran finally buckled and the contract was withdrawn.

Citipointe Christian students and Mulheran reported being harassed and receiving sdeath threats. This is NOT OK and shame on those who participate in that behaviour.

Citipointe fiasco causes panic and backflips

Scott Morrison has vowed to close existing loopholes in the Sex Discrimination Acts in numerous States. Currently, religious schools and institutions are exempt from discrimination laws against LGBTQ+ people.

Scott Morrison vowed to protect lesbian and gay students from expulsion from schools.

However, trans, non – binary people and their advocates were left disappointed. Trans and non – binary students were not granted the same protection.

Religious Discrimination Bill was always an anti – LGBTQ Bill

If something positive came out of Citipointe Christian College fiasco, it’s that the cat is out of the bag.

If the Religious Discrimination Bill, people like Brian Mulheran would have been emboldened.

Luckily, enough people saw through the spin. People were willing to stand up against bigotry. And as a part of the LGBTQ+ community, I myself, I want to thank all those who stood up and protected vulnerable people.

Let’s never allow legislation that gives bigotry a foothold. We need to keep up the fight.

Do you agree disagree? Was the Religious Discrimination Act just an excuse to discriminate? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. below.

Categories
Opinion/Commentary Politics

Should private schools be able to discriminate against a staff member or student for being LGBTQ?

From top: Christian cross in circle, bottom right, school students taking exams, bottom left, LGBTQ pride flag
All images are from Canva

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been spooked and vowed not to extend anti – discrimination exemptions to allow private schools to expel and discriminate against LGBTQ+ students. Instead, he’s promised to scrap the existing exemptions written into laws, including New South Wales’ Sex Discrimination Act 1984.

I think there are two reasons why Prime Minister Morrison reacted the way he did. First, last week, Sydney Morning Herald wrote an article about leaked information regarding private schools being given permission to expel LGBTQ+ students. Morrison initially lashed out on The Bolt Report, slamming the article as “false” and a “smear”. Also, a by – election in Wentworth, New South Wales will happen on the 20th of October and the result will determine whether the Coalition can hold a majority in the House of Representatives (a.k.a the Upper House).

When I first heard about this in the Ruddock Religious Freedom Review, I was really worried. I don’t think children should be discriminated against for being LGBTQ+ and, as I’ve written before, I think that LGBTQ+ students should be supported by school staff openly. The self – hatred is hard enough without the fear of being expelled or the confirmation that teachers and other staff think you deserve to be treated differently because of it.

In the past, I have also written that teachers and other school staff should be educated on how to support LGBTQ+ students, and be aware of students who may be questioning their sexuality (or gender identity) or who are bi, pan or asexual. Teachers and other staff should be aware that sexuality may not be able to be labelled and that’s OK. This is why I initially supported Safe Schools and was disappointed when it was politicised and ultimately scrapped in New South Wales and will eventually be de-funded by most States and Territories across the country.

 

Next push: no discrimination against LGBTQ+ staff

According to The Guardian Australia, Labor has now vowed to push for protections for LGBTQ+ teachers by making it unlawful to fire or not employ a teacher or staff member due to their sexuality, gender identity or relationship status. While I’m not against the proposal, this is political opportunism. In fact, it was the Labor Government who sided with groups like the Australian Christian Lobby and made it legal for private schools to be able to sack or not hire staff because of one’s sexuality, gender identity or relationshi status clashing with a school’s religious values. The Coalition are split, with Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg welcoming moves to eliminate discrimination of LGBTQ+ teachers in private schools, while former Prime Minister and Member for Warringah, Tony Abbott, being against it, warning of “unintended consequences” (oh please, not this again).

It’s ideal that no one would be discriminated against. But, quite frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the government stuck with the mantra of ‘religious freedom’ and continued to allow private schools to be exempt from anti – discrimination legislation in the name of religious freedom.

Even if the loopholes are closed, will that end discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in education?

To me, the issues of discrimination and inclusion goes beyond mere employment. How will LGBTQ+ staff be treated by their employees and employers? Would a married lesbian, for example, be able to freely talk about her weekend away with her wife to other staff or would she be compelled to keep quiet about it, with her relationship being treated as a dirty little secret? How would it affect events like staff Christmas parties? Will she be able to bring her spouse and not be made to feel uncomfortable? All I’m saying, is that being paranoid that you’re not accepted is bad enough and it’s a fear that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I also think it’s a fear that can’t be merely legislated away.

Tell me what you think. Should a private school be able to discriminate against a staff member or student based on religious beliefs?

Categories
LGBTQ rights Opinion/Commentary

My take on the religious freedom debate after same – sex marriage

open book
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The inquiry into religious freedom after the legalisation of same sex marriage in Australia still rages on. Advocacy group just.equal has been able to access and upload PDF files both for and against more  so-called “religious freedom”. Here’s what I think.

While I don’t think that churches or other worship leaders should be forced to conduct same – sex marriage (which I thought was never a problem anyway), I am suspicious of calls for further extensions.

It’s all sounds really good and gentle. So you’re someone who wants to deny services to a same – sex couple wanting to get married? Then you lose business. Sounds fair, right? And everyone else should be able to exercise their conscience, right? Well, who, exactly, should be able to ‘exercise their conscience? Florists? Bakers?… Doctors? Pediatricians?

This is what I fear. And my fears aren’t completely baseless. In Tennessee, for example, it’s legal for mental health workers to refuse to treat LGBTQ+ people on religious grounds. In Michigan, just before same – sex marriage was law nationwide, a pediatrician refused to see a toddler because she was raised by same – sex married parents. That was legal, by the way.

I’ve seen comments on articles and social media that that won’t happen here. They argue that people should be able to refuse to cater for a same – sex wedding. Nothing else.

Yeah. For now.

Let’s get one thing straight (no pun intended). These people who are asking for extensions in ‘religious freedom’ are asking for the right to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people. Do you think that a baker will refuse to bake a cake for a couple that is getting remarried after a divorce? For some reason, I doubt it.

‘Religious freedom’ extensions are asking for the freedom to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people. I wish journalists and conservatives in general would just admit that. If you don’t want to work for or cater LGBTQ+ people, then don’t work in the business or community services sector. Frankly, it’s that simple.

 

Thing is, I’m not convinced that it’ll stop at catering for weddings. If I did, I may have some sympathy for those arguing for it (I actually did once).

LGBTQ+ people have already had their lives debated endlessly for months in the lead up to same – sex marriage. Some were triggered with homophobic and transphobic abuse, which they thought they’d left behind. And now, people want the right to ‘other’ them… again.

Think about this another way.

You’re LGBTQ+. You’ve ummed and aaahed, fretted and dreaded coming out to your family, friends, church, workmates, etc due to fear of being rejected. This is also hard for young people who are merely questioning their sexuality, (believe me, I know). Unfortunately, for too many young LGBTQ+ people, their fears are realised and they are ostracised from loved ones, abused in their faith communities, kicked out of home, and sometimes, physically abused. Just imagine, you’re LGBTQ+ fret about telling your friends, family and faith community and your worse fears are confirmed. Your parents kick you out. A friend who you thought you could trust betrays or rejects you. You’re rejected by your faith community, unless you go through ‘conversion therapy’. You do the whole lot: prayer, exorcism, fasting. Nothing changes. You feel like you’ve ‘failed’. The cycle starts again, until you break. You may get your life on track after years of therapy, soul work and immense internal healing.

Years later, you meet the love of your life. You want to spend the rest of your lives together and decide to do that officially through marriage. You and your partner go through all the preparations. You come to planning your cake… then, you hit a brick wall. The baker refuses to make it on religious grounds. All your past comes back to haunt you. The rejection of your family, your friends, your colleagues.

 

Lastly, what peeves me off to no end is the reason why people are arguing this. And, no it’s not religion. It’s because they can’t see LGBTQ+ people as people. They see them as pornified stereotypes. Go online and see what people who are against LGBTQ+ couples say; that they are ‘practising homosexuals’. References to anal sex, etc. See what I’m getting at? They immediately put their head in the gutter and refer to LGBTQ+ people as ‘acts’ that they imagine they do. How icky is that?! And dangerous. I really believe that is the reason why hate crime against LGBTQ+ people occurs around the world. Get your head out of the gutter!!!! The couple asked for a cake, not for you to participate in a brothel!

There is another solution. Let businesses be able to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people, but they should have to advertise it. Both on their premises and all their advertisements both in traditional and social media. If there is a backlash and they go bust, it’s their fault. But don’t allow them to drag LGBTQ+ people along, only to crush their dreams.

And, to those politicians who want this ‘right’ to be enshrined, don’t you DARE extend anti – discrimination laws any further. As many people on sofial media have said, last year, Australia voted for less discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, not more.

 

What do you think of the enqiry