Rodney Croome writes: It’s very disappointing that Denis Dragovic and Barney Zwartz, (writing in The Age) feel they need to build their case for post-marriage equality “religious freedom” on myths and misrepresentations (Protecting religious freedoms will not lead to discrimination). Here are seven. Let me know if you spot more.
Misrepresentation #1: “the only attempts to close down discussion came from the pro (marriage equality) case.”
Facts: Pastors and priests were sacked for publicly supporting marriage equality. Several times interested third parties tried to set up debates between advocates for and against and the latter refused to participate. Politicians opposed to marriage equality refuse discrimination to have a debate in parliament, many, many times. The only example ever cited of debate being “shut down” in the name of equality brings me to…
Misrepresentation #2: “the Tasmanian anti-discrimination commissioner seriously entertained a complaint about an innocuous Catholic booklet promoting the then legal status quo about marriage”
Facts: The booklet was not innocuous. It contained assertions that same-sex partners are not whole people and that we “mess with kids”. The case taken to the Anti-Discrimination Commission was about those particular assertions, not the whole book. The stated aim of the case was to improve public debate, not stifle it. The case was withdrawn because the Church was intransigent and refused to change even a single word.
Misrepresentation #3: That making jokes about religion, taxing churches, and questioning generous public funding for church schools and services are in the same category as discriminating against people because of their faith.
Fact: There is a clear distinction between giving churches special rights and privileges (blasphemy laws, tax breaks, extra public funding) and ensuring people of faith have the same opportunities in life as everyone else (preventing discrimination).
Misrepresentation #4: That LGBTI advocates are somehow against laws protecting people of faith from discrimination.
Fact: Not a single LGBTI advocate has opposed such laws. In fact we have called for them. What we oppose are laws that allow discrimination against LGBTI people under the cover of “religious freedom”
Misrepresentation #5: That European countries protect religious freedom.
Fact: That’s true, but it’s not the whole truth. Europe protects religious freedom within the context of broader human rights charters. Such charters ensure no one human right predominates. If Dragovic and Zwarts genuinely want religious freedom protected like it is in Europe they should support a charter of rights for Australia
Misrepresentation #6: That we should protect religious freedom because people of faith contribute to society.
Fact: Human rights are inherent and inalienable. They apply to us because we are human beings, not because we volunteer at Vinnies. This is important because people who need more than they can immediately give back – the ill or incapable, the very young or very old – have human rights too. In fact, it is often when we are least capable of contributing that we need human rights protections the most. I would have thought Christian advocates understood this.
Misrepresentation #7: Religious freedom is under threat and needs protection.
Fact: A bishop attending an anti-discrimination mediation in Hobart does not a secular jihad make. There is no evidence that the human rights of people of faith are being violated in any real or systemic way and therefore require more protection. The current movement for protecting “religious freedom” is about one thing only, creating new forms of discrimination against LGBTI people in the wake of marriage equality.
Misrepresentation #8: The veiled threat that faith-based services will close up shop if they don’t have adequate “protections”.
Fact: In no other country did the following occur…
- marriage equality led to Christians being discriminated against,
- further protections for “religious freedom” were required as a result of marriage equality, or
- faith-based services closed their doors because of either marriage equality or a lack of religious freedom.
Australia is not so different that it will or should follow a different path.