Labor’s Craven Cop-Out Cements Discrimination Into Law

Penny Wong once again left to whitewash the governments failings on LGBTI

Penny Wong once again left to whitewash the governments failings on LGBTI

The problem I have with the government’s retreat on anti-discrimination is simple: the remnant Sex Discrimination Bill is to be stretched to protect us. Good. No problem in principle. Thanks very much. (Not sure why we couldn’t have a standalone LGBTI Rights & Protections Bill of our own, but I’ll let that pass for now.) On the surface, a good idea. But . . . .

The people who are most eager to discriminate against us (and single mums, and atheists, and believers in other religions), will continue to have carte blanche to do so without penalty. They are set above the law, by the law. And that is, quite simply, wrong.

What is more, these people are paid public money – our taxes – to discriminate against any taxpayers they don’t like. And who are the people, in general, they dislike most? Who do they wish to discriminate against the most? Us. Another wrong.

The proposal now on the table does not even acknowledge, let alone tackle, these wrongs. Instead, it entrenches them. So this is very far from being a ‘major’ or ‘historic’ step forward. It cements this officially-sanctioned discrimination into law. Forgive me if that leaves me less than enraptured.

So why have the government left the religious exemptions in place? They don’t want to pick a fight with the religious trolls in their own party, like Joe de Bruyn, or in the Coalition, or in the Christian lobby.

They don’t want to have to actually WORK to get this through parliament, consulting, cajoling, negotiating and arm-twisting. You know, like they’ve been doing over a piece of legislation they REALLY want, they’re REALLY proud of, they’re prepared to take risks for, because they BELIEVE in what they’re doing – the media laws.

Yes, it’s good that something, however little, has been offered for intersex and trans people. But as Rodney Croome says, this Act is so old and so riddled with religious exemptions that, with them still in place, it is almost meaningless. The least the government could possibly get away with doing, at absolutely no cost to themselves. A cheap, lazy, craven grovel to the Christian right, again.

Because those people REALLY matter to Labor. Unlike us.

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)