Why religious exemptions are important to me

From the abstract political in recent posts on this topic, to why I personally feel the religious exemptions in the anti discrimination act are horrible.

I’m in IT. This is fortunately an area in which there are a number of fantastic and progressive employers. But some people in IT wind up working with and for community service organisations- a sizeable number of which are run by religious groups. The Catholics, the Salvos, the Anglicans, the Uniting church, and many more.

I work for the IT department in an organisation providing aged, disability, and children’s services. And one of the questions I had to delve into about my organisation in the light of the recent federal bill was “are they a religious organisation? Will they retain the right to discriminate against me because I’m gay?” I went hunting across the Internet and I’m satisfied that the answer is “no”. I know they were aware that I was a gay activist before they hired me. (It doesn’t take more than a basic google to uncover that information, and what employer doesn’t google their prospective employee?)

The religious exemptions as they stand in the draft bill mean that people like me, particularly working in the community services sector, have to do a lot more research before we accept positions to make sure we make our decisions armed with all the facts about our employers and their ability to discriminate against us.

This institutionalised blanket permission for discrimination places a higher burden on anyone who might feel that they might at some point be protected by anti discrimination legislation in order for them to feel secure in their positions.

I’m out to a point that going back “in” isn’t an option for me even if I wanted to. And that means that I will have to be wary should I wind up considering a job offer from a religious employer… That’s the only positive in recommendation 12 in the report: employers would have to announce their intention to discriminate up front. They won’t be able to simply change their mind about me later…

Make it simple, don’t let people discriminate without demonstrable reason.

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