1 Oct 2009

Some Gays Are More Equal Than Others

By Ben Pobjie
The Victorian Government has struck a happy compromise with religious groups by ruling that discrimination against SOME people is okay, writes Ben Pobjie
You know, it's not often I have a good word to say about state governments — unless that good word is "mouth-breathers" — but it gives me some considerable pleasure to be able to applaud my own state government, the Government of Victoria, for having struck a blow for commonsense and rationality and good old-fashioned Australian sort-of-freedom.

After much wrangling over changes to anti-discrimination laws, the Victorian Government has reached a happy compromise with religious groups. And isn't that refreshing? If there's one thing that the battle for human rights needs more of, it's compromise. There's too much black-and-white thinking when it comes to discrimination, not enough give-and-take; too much "we demand this" and "give us that" and "we will not accept any more of this degrading and humiliating the other". Thank goodness Victoria has taken the lead in achieving a neat balance between the competing demands of those who don't want to be discriminated against, and those who want to discriminate against them.

The essence of the new discrimination laws is that religious organisations will no longer be able to discriminate against some people, but will still be allowed to discriminate against some other people. For example, churches will not be allowed to refuse employment or services to people on the basis of race or disability — a move which just shows how radical and progressive this Victorian Government really is.

They will also not be able to discriminate on the basis of breastfeeding, although it remains unclear as to whether this applies to the owners of the breasts, or those taking advantage of them. Will a church be forced to hire a nursing mother, but not have to employ her baby? Mere details, of course, but they'll have to be nutted out sometime — can you discriminate against bottle-feeders? What if the woman applies for a job where breastfeeding presents practical difficulties, like archbishop? One can easily see why so many people are pro-discrimination: equality tends to throw up such a thorny minefield of complex ethical questions you become exhausted just trying to understand what on earth I'm talking about.

Nevertheless, the state government has moved boldly in the direction of equality, and once that train is on the move, it will not stop until it has achieved full equality for that proportion of the population that is not disliked to an excessive extent by mainstream churches. Because hand-in-hand with equality goes harmony — the government must not, in its striving for egalitarianism, cause social division. The government can't just go about dictating what the law is — first it must ask the clergy, quite politely, what the law should be. This is why certain concessions had to be made.

These concessions are that religious groups are still permitted to discriminate on the basis of sex, sexuality, marital status, and parental status. So there are winners and losers here, as in everything. The winners, obviously, are the blacks and Asians and paraplegics and breastfeeders who now enjoy the privilege of equal access to employment opportunities. The losers are the single parents and gays and fornicators and women who perhaps should have thought about the consequences before adopting these lifestyles.

According to The Age, these concessions have "angered gay activists and discrimination experts", but let's be honest, "gay activist" is just another way of saying "cry baby", and I am extremely suspicious of these so-called "discrimination experts": I know of nobody with greater discrimination expertise than the churches themselves.

Now, obviously, some people will ask, in their dull, brainless way, why churches should be able to refuse to hire people for reasons that have nothing to do with the requirements of the job? What these people fail to realise is that things like pre-marital sex or homosexuality can have far-reaching consequences that can affect job performance in ways not immediately obvious.

Let us take a hypothetical example. Say you run a Catholic school. I don't know how this came about; perhaps you inherited it from a rich uncle, or perhaps you simply have a lifelong passion for indoctrinating children. In any case, you run a Catholic school, and one day a homosexual comes to you asking for a job as a maths teacher. Thinking, "Oh well, nothing untoward there, his perversion will not affect his numeracy", you hire him. Only to find just weeks later that the fellow has, surreptitiously, been teaching gay maths.

You know the drill: it starts with long division, differential equation, surds and so forth, and then, when the students' guard is down, bang! The tests start including questions about the "geometry of sodomy", and the class begins setting out on excursions to bathhouses. Imagine the fall-out! The angry parents! How would you feel, if you enrolled your son or daughter at a respectable Christian school, only to find out they'd been taught depraved algebra or feminist geography or promiscuous physics? Betrayed and scandalised and a little bit jealous? Exactly!

The same applies at the churches themselves. No doubt a church can, at a stretch, with certain adjustments, allow a Somali or Young Liberal to clean its toilets, but a single mother? Why should a church be forced to entrust the hygiene of its amenities to someone who can't even keep her own uterus neat and tidy? I apologise for the earthy language, but when it comes to religious discrimination, at times biological frankness is necessary — as elaborated in St Paul's Letter to the Sluts.

Now I'm not saying there are no problems with the government's deal. Obviously some people will be unhappy — gays and lesbians and teen mothers and other deviants — but as they say, you can't make an omelette without excluding transsexuals. After all, it would be ridiculous to force a Christian youth group to hire Satan-worshippers as leaders, wouldn't it? And don't think for a moment that I am having a go at Satan-worshippers here. I'm extremely sympathetic to the Satan-worshipping community: in fact, that's one of the reasons I am so in favour of these laws.

Because you see, these laws allow Satan-worshippers to discriminate too! No longer will Satanic churches and building societies have to provide services to Presbyterians and Pentecostals and such. Satan-worshippers will finally have that freedom of assembly that Satan himself aspired to when he originally rebelled against the uptight, straitjacketed regime of Jehovah, much as today's free spirits rebelled against the restrictive reign of John Howard by doing funny voices and making jokes about eyebrows. The Victorian Government's move, in fact, is the best news Satan-worshippers have had for years. The Victorian Government is actually pro-Satan, for the first time since Jeff Kennett lost power.

And the thing is, it's not just Satan-worshippers. These laws give us all the power to discriminate in who we employ or serve or stand near. As long as you are a religious organisation, the sky's the limit! And it's not as if it's difficult to start up a religion. Ask any Scientologist or Mormon or Buddhist — all you need is one maniac with a stupid story and some interesting theories on underpants, and whoopee, tax-exempt for life!

And that means that as long as we show the can-do spirit of history's greatest con-artists and psychotics, and start our own faiths, we too can be free of those irritating segments of society we've been putting up with for so long out of fear of anti-discrimination laws. Of course, we'll still have to put up with Hillsong, due to the aforementioned prohibition against discriminating against the disabled; but Victoria has reassured us that we have nothing to fear from ethnic minorities, or those with sexual proclivities or histories incompatible with our own; because as long as we're doing it for our "faith" (tee hee) we can keep them well away from us, for good.

And in the end, isn't the freedom of everyone to exclude objectionable outsiders what equality is all about?


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Posted Thursday, October 1, 2009 - 16:46


Scathingly brilliant, brilliantly scathing - well said, Ben.

Posted Thursday, October 1, 2009 - 21:21

Three cheers for this article. Hypocrisy is what put me off religion many years ago - and it hasn't got any better. So much for churches being a place for everyone.

To discriminate against a woman for breastfeeding shows Christianity (the religion that would have had the biggest say in this, being the government-approved version of dope) hasn't moved on since the dark ages when women were considered too unclean to make a full contribution to society.

Posted Thursday, October 1, 2009 - 21:45

I think one thing that is often overlooked is that Churches and religious bodies are not representatives of their members. They are not usually elected. They like to pretend they represent X number of people who happen to worship within a certain framework - but there is actually quite a diversity of views out there - particularly when it comes to provision of services following winning of government contracts. It's quite disturbing how so many people fall for this con - they are not, nor were they ever supposed to be, representatives.

Posted Friday, October 2, 2009 - 01:21

To my mind whether invididuals and organisations should be allowed to discriminate against whoever they happen not to like is not completely clear cut. Perhaps it is not the governments buisness to interfere?

More importantly though, the government itself should not discriminate, or establish discriminatory laws. We should all be 'equal in the eyes of the law'. The trouble with this law (and the equivalent interstate) is that religious organisations are exempted from the anti-discrimination laws which the rest of us have to abide by. This means that the law is blantantly discriminatory in favour of religious organisations, and against secular organisations.

In a sense it seems insane that their is even a debate about the detail of anti-discrimination laws in a country where racial discrimination by the government is specifically enshrined in section 51(xxvi) of the constitution. To quote our first pime minister, the purpose of section 51(xxvi) is to "regulate the affairs of the people of COLOURED OR INFERIOR RACES who are in the Commonwealth". It seems to be we should have a referendum to strike out section 51(xxvi) before we worry about fiddling around at the edges of anti-disrimination law.

Posted Friday, October 2, 2009 - 06:56

Yes - brilliant, as usual, Ben. Your sense of humour is what keeps me going in these unenlightened times of the Brumby Government. Have you posted a copy to Rob Hulls?

Posted Friday, October 2, 2009 - 07:55

I like the subject & like the article, well done Ben.

The subject is religion & the context is human rights on the basis of democracy. Raising questions of freedom of expression & the right to access.

The main part of the discussion is Religion & that is where the article begins & ends for me, as it is the babbling tongues of religious mental illness (RMI) that are in question. There is no such thing as God, the devil or angels etc & that has made the article half of what it is. The subject of equality is relevant but the subject of source is not.

Posted Friday, October 2, 2009 - 08:32

And isn't Victoria the only State with a Human Rights Charter?

Posted Friday, October 2, 2009 - 10:16

Good point pjnewling. Has this been run past the Human Rights Charter. If it has passed that, then it is not worth the paper it is written on and bodes ill for an Australian Human Rights Charter despite me currently being in support of having one.

Good take on the subject Ben.

Posted Friday, October 2, 2009 - 11:44

Great article. One of many that continually highlight among other things, that the law is a farce.

Posted Friday, October 2, 2009 - 22:31

Well said, Ben.

So will these religions, having gained permission to do things their own way, decide to PAY their own way as well?

I, as a taxpayer, want my money back, to spend on perversions of my own choosing.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. PaulRobert
Posted Saturday, October 3, 2009 - 10:49

OMG! You're sooooo right! My love of Kylie, interior design and hot sweaty man-sex was entirely due to gay math! If only the Brothers who ran the school (who were, of course, otherwise fine examples of moral rectitude) had excluded our pervert math teacher, I wouldn't have ended up the gay, happily partnered, suburban doctor I am today but might have aspired to a less abhorrent, more morally upright life like, say, a heterosexual rugby league player in a motel room with eleven teammates and a terrified drunken waitress.

Posted Sunday, October 4, 2009 - 19:42

a hoot! i'm sure my catholic-school religious studies teacher is chuckling heartily from inside her closet (if she has not been fired by now for teaching lesbian bible study).

so it looks like the best way out is to declare midsumma a religion. what a terrifying thought.

Posted Wednesday, October 7, 2009 - 16:57

Love your work PaulRobert. You're spot on.

And to pan.sapiens, of course it is the business of the government to intefere when discrimination occurs, particularly when an individual citizen is fighting a powerful institution for equality. We know so well that churches do not adequately handle cases internally and, apart from accessing the legal system, who should we turn to for protection other than the government? Although you're absolutely right on your suggestion relating to the constitution...

Judith Loriente
Posted Wednesday, October 28, 2009 - 16:02

"See You in Court"

What a sad day it is
When a Christian religion not only teaches
Things with no basis in Christianity –
But asks for human rights breaches

They want to discriminate against gays and de factos
When there’s not a single word
To suggest Jesus ever did so –
Is that not a little absurd?

Perhaps one day there’ll be a court case
And the law will force them to quote
Chapter and verse to support their bigotry
And it’ll become a case of note

For they’ll sit there in stunned silence
Unable to defend their discrimination
And will listen with widening eyes
As they’re forced to cough up compensation

Don’t they understand that a secular society
Is the price they just have to pay
For being free to practise their own religion
Whilst keeping would-be persecutors at bay?