Freshly Doug Monday

If he opened a clinic he could claim religious exemptions – pic by Joe Mabel

The row over the exposure draft of the proposed changes to anti discrimination law rumbles on, principally around the attempt to maintain the extraordinary privileges granted to quasi-religious organisations, which exempt them from obeying the same law as everyone else. Australian Christaliban Lobby head Jim Wallace once again put his foot in it by claiming that it was akin to gay organisations not employing Christians.

 ‘I’m not aware of any Christians trying to be employed in any gay bars or gay institutions and I would expect the gay population should be extending that same privilege and courtesy to Christians.’

But we do employ Christians, Jimbo, we do. Or perhaps you’re sticking to the line you peddled when you were on my show on Joy 94.9 all those years ago – that gay church members aren’t ‘real Christians’, and a gay friendly church, like the MCC, isn’t a ‘real church’?

The Uniting Church isn’t having a bar of Wallace’s extremism: their submission to the exposure draft can be downloaded here. The Reverend Elenie Poulos, national director of UnitingJustice Australia, the justice policy and advocacy unit of the Uniting Church in Australia Assembly, hit back sharply at the likes of Wallace and Cardinal Pell:

For some churches, freedom of religion does not mean the freedom to discriminate.

Across many church agencies, a commitment to non-discriminatory employment is keenly observed in the employment of teachers, ground staff, nurses or social workers. This commitment arises from some of the core principles of Christian faith.

In the eyes of God, everyone is of value; everyone is precious.

The proposed laws are under attack from other quarters, too. The Organisation of Intersex International is concerned that, contrary to Nicola Roxons protestations, intersex people are left unprotected. President Gina Wilson said:

“it was ”vitally important” that ”intersex” was listed separately as a protected attribute, noting that previous attempts to bring discrimination cases under state laws – which have similar wording to the proposed federal legislation – had been rejected because the issues were not about gender identity.”

Meanwhile far-right think-tank Institute of Public Affairs (basically a PR front organisation for big business), also have concerns which, if correct, could have far-reaching implications for gay rights campaigners.

All of which can seem very ‘First World Problems’ when you look at the situation in Russia, where anti-gay thugs beat up gay activists yet again, or New Zealand, where anti-marriage lobbyists attempt to ‘prove’ that equal marriage will lead to a soaring crime rate: which is, of course, even more complete and total nonsense than that usually served up by those unhinged by prejudice.

On the positive side, visibility is getting runs on the board for equality, as it inevitably does, this time in Singapore.

In 2005, 68.6% of adults had negative attitudes toward gay people, while 22.9% had positive views and 8.5% were neutral. By 2010, negative attitudes were down to 64.5%, while more expressed positive attitudes (25.3%) or were neutral (10.2%).

Of course, it takes a fair degree of selflessness and courage and, dare I say it, love for the rest of your rainbow tribe to speak out from within disapproving cultures, such as Islam. Appearing on the UK’s Channel 4  4Thought program, Omar Kuddus, a Muslim gay LGBT rights advocate, said

‘Allah who created all mankind would not create a gender that was condemned from birth, for he is not that cruel.’

‘Those who condemn my sexuality should know better for Allah is the only one that can pass judgement- not Imams and Mullahs’.

Which is just another way of saying that no religion should have the right to impose it’s views and standards on other people, especially those who do not share them, and should definitely not be handed oodles of public money to do so. Religion and public services such as health are a dangerous, even deadly, mix.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)