For those of you who thought the whole Israel Folau saga was over – it’s only just begun. Despite it being a non-issue (like literally, he signed a contract and then didn’t obey it’s terms – I’d fire him too), it’s caused a nation-wide debate on ‘religious freedoms.’ And now, it may affect the Marriage Act.
The problem with this nation-wide debate is that it assumes Christianity is under threat in Australian society. Obvs, it’s not – our actual PM amongst most of our politicians are Christians, and same-sex marriage wasn’t even legal until 2017. The separation of Church and State that we are supposed to have in this country is, um, kinda elusive at times. But, marriage equality happened anyway and we’re all chuffed.
The fight for marriage equality was vicious and relentless. Who could forget the multi-million dollar, tax-payer funded postal plebiscite that nobody wanted? Really, it was just to delay marriage equality. Which, by the way, was ultimately pointless as it just echoed the polls that majority of Aussies were chill with same-sex couples. People on the streets won marriage equality, with over 50,000 protesters in Sydney alone.
Except, now the Coalition wants to amend the Marriage Act again because of their new focus on religious freedoms.
John Howard changes the Marriage Act to stop marriage equality (and wedge labor). It took 14 years for LGBTIAQ people and their supporters to change the marriage act. Morrison government wants to change the act again to enshrine discrimination of lgbtiaq people. (And wedge labor)
— johnno (@JohnC64) 3 July 2019
The government released a list of legislation that they are going to amend , including marriage law.
They haven’t stated exactly what they’re amending about it. I think we can be sure they won’t actually take away the right for gay couples to marry. However, what it will do is make it more difficult for same-sex couples to get married. By changing legislation and ‘protecting religious freedoms’, essentially religious companies and organisatJohnions can discriminate against same-sex couples and deny them service.
Last year a review was released that called out the government for throwing LGBT people under the bus.
People should have the right to freely choose their religion, including none. Their religious institutions should still have to comply with anti-discrimination laws. There should be no ‘carve out’ exception. Being a member of a religion should not come with legal ‘perks’.
— Simon Pope (@skjpope) 4 July 2019
As reported by the Guardian, the Marriage Act changes included “plans to make it clear that religious organisations such as Catholic schools would not be required to make their halls available for same-sex marriage ceremonies, nor would they be required to provide services for same-sex weddings.”
This effectively would make it legal for a variety of religious groups, services, property owners, etc to deny same-sex couples from using their services for their wedding. For example, what about gay couples wanting to get married in a church? Or have their reception in a community hall that’s governed by a local church? If they wanted to, the religious group in charge could deny them service on the grounds of religious freedom.
Rather than protecting a persecuted minority’s rights, these changes are just make it easier to discriminate against gay people. We’ll see whether these legislation changes actually pass the bench.
Image Sources: Twitter @skjpope @JohnC64