We Shouldn't Give A License To Discriminate

The political party that forms the current Australian government has managed to get legislation to prevent discrimination on the basis of religion to pass the lower house of federal Parliament


Which leads me to discuss the idea of the Religious Discrimination Bill. The summary of my feeling on the topics is as such:

The idea of protection from discrimination on the basis of YOUR religion is a great idea. But there is no protection from discrimination on the basis of THEIR religion.

Someone shouldn't kick you out of a workplace because you're a Christian. But you shouldn't also be kicked out of a workplace run by Christians because you’re an atheist.

However, one of the biggest battlegrounds is over the right of religious schools to expel students on the basis of sexuality or gender identity. Two vocal groups, the Australian Christian Lobby and Christian School Australia, are quite upset that 5 government MPs have voted to have Section 38-3 of the Sex Discrimination Act, the right of faith-based schools to discriminate on the basis of sexuality, marital status, etc, removed.

But let me put it like this - if you need special legislation to circumvent anti-discrimination laws to allow you the free and unfettered practice of your religion, what does that say about your religion?

I agree that people shouldn't be discriminated against for their religious belief - but we also have to make sure that discrimination isn't practiced in the name of religion. We also shouldn't be providing protection against mere belief

For example, let's take wedding cakes - there is no religion that explicitly prevents the baking of wedding cakes or other foodstuffs for the celebration of a same-sex marriage. Actually, there is no religion that mandates the baking of cakes for marriages - period. So we can't say that refusing to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage is a religious principle.

Yet, and we have already seen this in other parts of the world, religious belief gets tied in with cultural belief - for example, if a Christian baker feels offended about having to make a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding, it is not entirely unreasonable that under this legislation, the baker can refuse to make the cake.

The other problem I have is that over the last 40 years, we've been trying to reduce the legality of discrimination and the avenues available for people to be discriminated against. Unless the legislation is changed to prevent active discrimination against people, this legislation is a bad idea.

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