Conservative religious groups make much ado about the “right to religious freedom”, and specifically the subsequent demand that they be allowed to avoid prosecution from discrimination on the basis of those beliefs.
This, for the most part, is bovine fecal matter, since for the most part it’s actually about demanding legal freedom to be a bigot.
We can sort the legitimate concerns from the immoral bigotry with 2 simple litmus tests:
- Replace any reference to gender/gender identity, sexual orientation, etc., with a specific ethnic group.
- Replace any reference to life circumstances with a life changing injury or disease.
Let’s have an example, shall we?
The Victorian government, sliding backwards, is currently considering enacting changes to the discrimination act that would return it to NSW standards. In The Age, “Baillieu promised a fairer Victoria, but it looks like the opposite“, we’re told:
At the weekend, the state government committed to reforming [sic] Victoria’s Equal Opportunity Act 2010 in two ways: first, it will scrap measures to designed to actively promote equality, including stripping powers from the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.
Second, it will expand the “permanent exceptions” that give religious groups and entities – including those that provide public services using public money – a free license to discriminate against de facto couples, gays, lesbians and single mums, among others.
So, let’s apply the litmus test then on that second sentence:
Second, it will expand the “permanent exceptions” that give religious groups and entities – including those that provide public services using public money – a free license to discriminate against diabetic couples, hispanics, negroes and one-limbed mothers, among others.
Litmus test: FAIL.
Organisations and individuals cannot – they must not – be allowed to claim religious freedoms that would violate these fundamental litmus tests. To allow them to do so is contrary to morality, common sense and acceptable social behaviour.