Religious Freedom must not impinge on LGBTIQ rights

There has been much speculation and confusion about the contents and the implications of the Ruddock report into religious freedom, portions of which seemed to have been leaked to the media over the past couple of days.

It is premature to criticise it until the full report is released to the public and once it is released we will need to see what the response of the government is.

However, certain basic principles can be set out at this stage.

There can be no objection to federal legislation which protects freedom of religion and the right to engage in religious observance, provided that this does not limit the rights of others. This freedom must apply equally to people who hold no religious beliefs

In modern Australia there exists a broad consensus as to certain legal principles which are fundamental to civil society, to international undertakings to which Australia has committed itself and an ethos which enables us to live together while accepting many group differences. Nevertheless, it must be acknowledged that many religions maintain views or cling to precepts which are not consonant with values now explicitly or implicitly accepted in all western societies, including Australia.

We do not, for example accept capital or corporal punishment, although some religions regard these as rudimentary methods of dealing with criminal and religious infractions. We also do not accept that women are inherently inferior to males although some religions still maintain that this is part of their doctrine.

By the same token, it is morally repugnant to enshrine in legislation the right of schools to refuse enrolment or even to expel children who are or who are perceived to be of a particular sexual orientation. This insult is multiplied because these schools are funded by taxpayer money including taxes paid by members of the LGBTIQ community.

We at Symmetra, trust that no legislation will be passed which will take us backwards by denying basic equality to a significant portion of our population.

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