Tell your loved ones…

So it’s been a while. I try to only write when I have something to say.

Most of my readers would know that Australia is spending $122m on a ridiculous non-binding survey of the Australian Electoral Roll (That won’t actually wind up including lots of people overseas).

At 2:15 on Thursday 7 September, 2017, the High Court ruled that the survey could go ahead.

I’ve already done a bit in the lead-up to this whole thing – I spent an entire weekend walking my suburb asking people to enrol to vote. I asked every person I had even the most casual conversation with (outside of my working hours – our clients pay for my expertise, not my political needs)

But there was one person I was quite worried to ask, worried that I already knew what the answer would be, and that my sister and I might forever have a little bit more distance between us.  And then I considered the price of not knowing, of always wondering whether may fiancé and I were being judged, and I realised that I really didn’t lose much by asking – that not knowing was just about as hazardous to my family relationships as knowing it was a “no” vote. And at least if I knew I could try to change it, right?

But asking that question of family was terrifying.  It was coming out all over again. I was learning if I would ever be fully comfortable at a family gathering ever again.

Fortunately, I was wrong.  That concern, in this case, was based on assumptions I’d made about my sister and her church – I’m glad I asked because it’s clarified something for me that I should have asked more directly about years ago. But I’m pretty sure that if I expand my family circle from “immediate” just one or two layers and asked my parents’ siblings, their partners, and their offspring how they plan to vote… Well I expect that a few would vote “no”.  But without asking I face the prospect of never knowing if the family member I’m having a conversation with at Christmas voted to prevent me from fulfilling my promise to marry my partner.

Meanwhile, my partner’s grandmother is falling out with family who are posting hateful and hurtful homophobic things.

That’s the legacy of this secret ballot. Division, distrust, and suspicion.

If you know someone gay, please, don’t make us ask you how you’re going to vote – make sure we know.

Marriage Equality: the fashion issue of this election

On Saturday in Queen’s Park, a whole bunch of people are going to support the “fashionable” notion of Marriage Equality. This crowd clearly knows how big of a trend it is and wouldn’t be caught dead in anything else. Tony Abbott recently declared that he wouldn’t support “radical change based on the fashion of the moment.”

Equal Love Brisbane, a local well-known group of fashionistas and gay activists, are holding a rally as part of a nationwide campaign to keep Marriage Equality the election issue that it is. And we would like to welcome you to our runway: the streets of Brisbane. Come dressed to impress in your Equality-promoting couture, and sashay through the streets of our city in support of the height of fashion: equal rights for all Australians.

“Tony Abbott’s statement about Marriage Equality? A fashion don’t!”

This election, make sure you stand for someone who thinks human rights are more than a passing fad. Come to Queen’s Park (opposite the Treasury Casino) on Saturday 17th at 1PM and add your voice to the the call. Equality is always in vogue!

The Facebook Event:


Well, I know how you all love to look at my gorgeous face…  So I made another video!

This time, I’m reciting a poem I wrote about our politicians voting on Marriage Equality and the Liberal/Labor stances on the issue.

Conscience: Written and spoken by me (Dylan Carmichael):
The leaders of our capital L parties, so great,
Both are straight, and so
They vote on rights they will never use in their life.
And yet, they are rights they already have.
To have and to hold the person they love in the eyes of the state,
Something to which nothing else can equate.
A right granted simply because the one they love is different to them.
A right withheld simply because homophobes hum, haw, and hem.

Concerned about causing offence, our politicians commit one instead.
Failing to stand up for those who suffer in the daylight,
After taking away some of their rights, almost a decade ago.

And to those leaders, I say
That the time has come for you make amends for your vote to pass the 2004 Marriage Act amendment.
Atoning for the moment when the conscience so necessary to grant rights today was not consulted in the process of taking them away. On that fateful day, shut out of the chambers, your conscience ignored, overridden, not given any sway.

All that we want to hear is you raising voices together. An answer to our question that will echo through the years, prompting a flood of joyous tears from those of us who just want to marry who we love. Telling our future countrymen, who will hear that this government refused to be lead by Christian fear.

We crave a government who will right past wrongs.
A government whose final answer belongs
where it will be,
Writ large on our nation’s history.


God Bless the ACL!

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5
One of many quotes from the ACL’s favourite book which gives me hope that, should Christianity be correct, the earth shall *not* fall to the Australian Christian Lobby…

To me it seems that the ACL are vile, spitting vipers who lash out at everyone who takes a different opinion to them – and it seems that they do this most harshly when the opinion is in the realm of DiGS (Diverse in Gender and Sexuality) rights and protections.

Just today the ACL have accused Kevin Rudd of creating another Stolen Generation, angering both gay and indigenous Australians with their insensitivity. Rudd’s decision to back Marriage Equality caused them to issue a vitriolic statement about children being “taken through technology from their biological parent” and Kevin Rudd creating another Stolen Generation if the law were to pass.

This makes me ask why the ACL is happy to permit any kind of IVF for any couples, since this same argument could be made for couples who use other people’s sperm or ova in order to conceive. This has already been going on, and the Technologically Stolen Generation is yet to appear…

They also say that “The so-called ‘marriage equality’ debate has been conducted by slogans without proper consideration of the consequences. Kevin Rudd is the latest to fall victim to shallow thinking on this issue.”

They’re partly correct – there has been a LOT of sloganism in this debate. I’m not going to say that all of it is from them – we have our fair share of slogans too. What I will say is that pro-marriage-equality slogans are typically respectful and generally do not vilify – though we call out homophobic behaviour when we see it. The ACL and anti-ME crowd however appear to have no such compunction – Jim Wallace’s statements in Tasmania during their State-based Same-sex Marriage debate are proof of that. They seem to fail to recognise, or perhaps don’t care about, the consequences of their position or statements for LGBTIQ Australians.

Then again, they don’t seem to understand how they’re being seen to be trivialising the travesties perpetrated against Indigenous Australians either. Maybe they just don’t understand compassion, empathy, kindness, humility, or many of the other Fruits of Christianity.

They claim that “All major Australian church denominations officially oppose same sex marriage”: actually, the Uniting Church of Australia site states that ‘Currently: “With regard to same-sex relationships the Uniting Church does not have an explicit position’… well that doesn’t seem like “official opposition” to me! It’s not outright support, but it demonstrates the falsehood of the ACL’s statement. And if they can’t be trusted for accuracy in an area where they should have some insider knowledge, how can we trust their word on anything not in their sphere of expertise?

I believe the community’s strongest weapon against the ACL from this point forth is simply to let them keep talking. The more they say, the more irrelevant and hateful they show themselves to be. By all means, we should respond to their homophobic tripe, but with calm and grace, facts and logic. Actually engaging with them directly only lends them legitimacy they don’t actually have.

Bless the ACL, for they shall write themselves out of social relevance, write themselves out of power, and given time, write themselves out of existence.

Death, Marriage, Property, and Funerals

Recently I was alarmed to read a story of an Australian gay couple. I sadly cannot locate the story now but it highlights a part of why Marriage is so important.

The couple (Let’s call them Jack and John, the story mentioned no names) had been together for a number of years.  Eventually, Jack passed away, dying of cancer.  The story goes on to say that within 24 hours of his partner’s demise, John was served with papers asking him to vacate their home.  He was permitted to hold a memorial, but was told in no uncertain terms that he was not to attend the funeral, held in the family’s home state.  Jack’s body was taken away, and the family ignored that John ever had a part in his life, let alone being his partner.

It’s a sad story. I can’t tell you for sure whether this specific version of it has happened here in Australia.  But it’s hardly a unique story – Something very similar happened in America

This is not something that you hear of happening to married couples.  It doesn’t happen to wives, nor to husbands.  There’s this thing called “senior next of kin” which is one of the few things that de facto status does not grant.

According to the State Library of New South Wales

‘Next of kin’ can therefore include lesbian and gay partners. Despite this, if a person in a same-sex relationship dies without leaving a will, their partner’s wishes may be ignored by the family unless the partner can establish that a de facto relationship existed. This can be an important issue for a lesbian or gay person who may want their partner rather than their family to control the funeral arrangements. For this reason, it is especially important for lesbian and gay people to make their wishes clear in a will. Even then the executor is not bound by the directions left in the will. Disputes over ownership of the body or decisions about funeral arrangements are referred to the Supreme Court for hearing. Costs are met by the disputing parties.

Let me break this down: I could be in a loving relationship with a man for 40 years, I could die (I’m selfish, I’d rather be the first to go), having done everything I could legally, and the only way I can ensure that my partner has the right to do with my remains what he believes I would want (which in the course of 40 years, I’ve probably discussed at least once) is to make him the executor of my will – and even this can be challenged. I, fortunately, have a wonderful family and I can’t imagine them doing this to anyone. I know not everyone is so lucky…

Is this a question that straight people contemplate? I don’t think so.  I’ve heard a few people concerned about what will happen to them when they die – which is why they talk to their husbands or wives – but not about whether their family will let their husband/wife *do* what they’re asked to.

Marriage cements the next-of-kin bond and being both senior next-of-kin and executor is much more difficult to challenge.

Join with me and fight for this important right, to name our partners as our next-of-kin 

Stand with me at Queen’s Park at 1PM on the 18th of May – and remember to go to the Facebook event for the Rally for Marriage Equality Brisbane and let us know that you’re going, invite your friends, tweet it, post it on your uni campus, and put it on your workplace notice-board.  Get the word out that it’s happening. The more people who show, the bigger the push for Parliament to pass it.

Rally For Marriage Equality

It’s time! Time to pressure our pollies! Time to remind the nation that it’s still not done! Time to stand and demand a definition of marriage that, like love, is gender-blind! It’s time! Time for marriage equality!

It wasn’t so long ago…

For the 6 weeks leading up to the Gladstone Marriage Equality Rally in November, I drove everybody (not least myself) insane with blogs, posts, tweets, messages, emails, phone calls, media releases, interviews and more about the Rally.

Well guess what.  It’s Time… for Marriage Equality Rallying!

18th of May, 1PM, at Queens Park, will be Equal Love Brisbane’s Rally for Marriage Equality.

72860 10151540753533815 1966607866 n

I’ve told you before why Marriage is important to me.

We’ve seen bipartisan Senate Inquiry recommendations to legislate for Marriage Equality

We’ve seen public opinion jump to an all-time-high approval rating for Marriage Equality, with even a majority of Christians in favour.

What we haven’t seen is a public push from the leaders of the political parties for Marriage Equality, with Abbott refusing to even grant a conscience vote on the issue, despite 74% of coalition supporters saying that he should, and with Gillard granting a conscience vote and then voting against the bill.

It’s time that the Federal Government took notice of the public and recognised that this nation is ready for Marriage Equality, and the nation is saying so loudly.

It’s time. It’s past time. This should be done already, and we shouldn’t need to talk about it any more…

So come march with me and the other organisers of Equal Love Brisbane at 1pm on the 18th of May at Queens Park. Join the FB Group, and join the Facebook Event too – the QR Code below will take you to the event page.  Get in touch with Jess or Kat and ask them how you can help out. Follow @EqualLoveBris on Twitter for updates about this and other rallies. Share the QR Code and the poster, and invite all your friends to come the the Brisbane Rally.

In this election year, lets remind Abbott and Gillard that the GLBTIQ Community do this thing called voting, and at 10% of the population, we’re a demographic with some political punch.  March with us.  Lend us your voice. Tell our leaders that you’re casting your vote for Marriage Equality this year!



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.

The Anti-Discrimination Bill Inquiry Report

There are a total of 12 recommendations to come out of the Senate Inquiry Report. I posted about the deficiencies I noticed in the current draft recently, and so I’m going to address the four recommendations that relate to those inadequacies.

Recommendation 1
7.20 The committee recommends that the definition of ‘gender identity’ in clause 6 of the Draft Bill be amended to read:

gender identity means the gender-related identity, appearance or mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of an individual (whether by way of medical intervention or not), with or without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth, and includes transsexualism and transgenderism.

Perfect! It does away with that troublesome genuine basis stuff and makes the definition more readily accessible to those who may be discriminated against for perceived gender identity difference.

Recommendation 2

7.21 The committee recommends that subclause 17(1) of the Draft Bill be amended to include ‘intersex status’ as a protected attribute. ‘Intersex’ should be defined in clause 6 of the Draft Bill as follows:

intersex means the status of having physical, hormonal or genetic features that are:

(a) neither wholly female nor wholly male; or

(b) a combination of female and male; or

(c) neither female nor male.

In my first read, I was provisionally happy with this definition. I’m not Intersex and while I haven’t had an issue with gender-diversity, the terminology is still kind of new to me. I have since noticed that this definition is verbatim the one suggested by Gina of OII. If OII suggested it, I know it’s going to be the right language. Well done OII!

Recommendation 11

7.80 The committee recommends that the Draft Bill be amended to remove exceptions allowing religious organisations to discriminate against individuals in the provision of services, where that discrimination would otherwise be unlawful. The committee considers that the Australian Government should develop specific amendments to implement this recommendation, using the approach taken in the Tasmanian Anti‑Discrimination Act 1998 as a model.

This is big. This is very big. This recommendation expands on the aged-care provisions in the Draft Bill and removes the religious exemption for people they are providing a service to…
That means that religious schools would have to accept, for example, the children of my Baptist Pastor friend even though they question his “commitment to Christianity.” They also would be unable to expel a student for being gay or pregnant.

On the very day this recommendation came out, the opposition called on Labor to rule out its implementation – not that they have any intention of supporting this bill anyway…

So reading through 11 good recommendations in a massive step forward, I was a bit thrown by the twelfth.

Recommendation 12

7.81 The committee recommends that clause 33 of the Draft Bill be amended to require that any organisation providing services to the public, and which intends to rely on the exceptions in that clause, must:

  • make publicly available a document outlining their intention to utilise the exceptions in clause 33;
  • provide a copy of that document to any prospective employees; and
  • provide access to that document, free of charge, to any other users of their service or member of the public who requests it.

What this means, dear readers, is that if you apply to work at a religious organisation, they must provide you with a copy of their discrimination policy. They’re simply obligated to tell you how they intend to mistreat you before you sign the contract. This is a step forward for transparency, I suppose. I hope that people will call out our religious providers for their policies. But unless this recommendation is fleshed out in legislation to require a clear explanation of which subsections of Section 33 the organisation intends to use and how, I expect that we’ll see a lot of policies that state that they “retain the right to discriminate on the basis of [the whole list], as outlined in Section 33 of the Bill.”

On the surface, this transparency is at least a start. It is quite sad though to think about all those people in industries like aged care which are dominated by religious groups. Those poor folks gain little from this legislation if all of the policies are as bad as each other. I’ve heard the opinion that this gives the public a chance to shame the organisation into fixing their policies… I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but religious groups are to renowned for moving with the times or even caring too much about public opinion. I think to think that they will be shamed into changing is naive unless some church groups release policies saying they do not intend to discriminate.

On this point, I would like to say thank you to UnitingJustice Australia – a social justice arm of the Uniting Church who supported the removal of blanket religious exemptions for the following: (pp58/59)

We acknowledge…that the exercise of religious freedom is subject to the regulatory norms that govern Australian society…

We do not believe that [clause 33] is necessary, in light of the need to balance the rights of the wider community with the freedoms to be afforded to religious groups…When religious bodies are provided [with] what amounts to a ‘blanket exception’, there is no incentive for that body to ensure that it does not discriminate, and no incentive to promote equality and inclusion in areas of employment and representation other than those leadership positions necessary to maintain the integrity of the religious organisation.

The Coalition dissenting report has recommended that the bill not be supported, but that:

1.35 Coalition Senators recommend that Part II of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 be amended to include identity as a gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex person as a protected attribute to which the Act extends.

Given they want to ensure that religious exemptions still apply, I view this second recommendations as a token statement designed to appease the GLBTIQ lobby without giving ground where it really matters.

I’m just left hoping the Greens, Independents, and other minor parties work to force the government to do the right thing with this bill, since it’s clear that neither major party will put the amendments forward…

There’s a petition being presented to the Attorney-General on Tuesday – go sign here:
Don’t forget to write to your MPs, senators, and papers on this issue.

Living in fear of Liberals

I cast my mind back to the 2nd of February when I and a group of other gay, lesbian, and straight ally constituents, spoke to Teresa Gambaro. [Thanks Phil for reminding me that we had Straight allies there]

The thing that stands out for me is a statement that one of us made “I am afraid that the Liberals will get in to government.”

To date, I know one gay person who has said that he wants the Liberals in. ONE. And I have to say, he’s not thinking about rights when he says that either.  Even he doesn’t believe the GLBTI community would be better off under the Liberals – he believes that Australia as a whole would be – and he’s willing to take the personal rights cost of that.

But I digress. There are some people who haven’t voiced an opinion one way or the other, but the overwhelming theme since I took my place in the community has been fear of the Liberals.  We couldn’t let them get back in, and we couldn’t let them take power again.  We daren’t.  Especially after Howard’s game-changing, discrimination-enshrining amendment to the Marriage Act in 2004.  QLD Queers are even more afraid of Liberal Party ascendancy. Having seen Campbell Newman’s LNP handiwork we’re justifiably concerned that attacks on the queer community might be carried out federally. Again.

Gambaro pointed out that the Liberal party voted for the same-sex de facto recognition in 2008. As they should have. But did they table it?  Was it something a Liberal government would have done? I don’t believe so.  Federally, the Liberal Party really haven’t been allies of the GLBTIQ community, grudgingly giving when they couldn’t prevent things anyway, but never pushing for actual reform.

Even now, in the face of groundbreaking anti-discrimination legislation with a couple of deficiencies, before the Senate Inquiry findings are released complete, they have announced that they will vote against it and not seek any amendments.

They are voting against the first ever Federal Anti-discrimination act, the first federal protection of sexuality, gender identity, women, and multiculturalism, rather than trying first to fix the problems with it.  I believe the bulk of submissions were made around 5 points – that’s 5 amendments, to small portions of the bill – but we’ll find this out tomorrow, when I read and comment on the report.

I would like to take this opportunity to explain that for some (seemingly bizarre) reason I thought that the Liberals would buck the trend and become an effective opposition who appeared to take serving the people seriously.  That this legislation might be free from the partisan “she says up, so he says down” that has defined the Liberal Party and Tony Abbott in their terms as the Opposition. And for the record, I would have been happy with Liberal performance on this bill if they simply pushed for the amendments and then if the govt said no, voted against it. To not push for reforms is the lazy way out.

Is it any wonder we fear a party who refuses to make an effort for the disadvantaged ?  Is it any wonder we fear a party whose platform on gay marriage legislation introduced by another party is a unanimous “no” vote?  Is it any wonder we fear a party who within the last decade and in their most recent term of government introduced discrimination to the Marriage Act?

Anti-discrimination Exposure draft – the issues

I have realised that I have been remiss in my blogging, having completely missed out the Exposure Draft Human Rights and Anti-discrimination bill put forward by ex-Attorney General Nicola Roxson.

On the whole, it’s a good idea, and it’s basically an effort to harmonise state discrimination legislation to a high standard.  It will be the first federal anti-discrimination legislation in Australia.

There are, however, some problems with the draft, which need to be rectified before it should be passed.

Early on in the bill, in the definitions section in fact, we note that there is no entry for “intersex”.  This is a group of people who can and do experience discrimination based upon a vast array of genetic conditions.  The closest they get to being covered under this bill is under gender identity.  From the draft legislation (Chap 1, Part 1-2, Division 2, Section 6 – p15)

gender identity means:
(a) the identification, on a genuine basis, by a person of one sex
as a member of the other sex (whether or not the person is
recognised as such):
(i) by assuming characteristics of the other sex, whether by
means of medical intervention, style of dressing or
otherwise; or
(ii) by living, or seeking to live, as a member of the other
sex; or
(b) the identification, on a genuine basis, by a person of
indeterminate sex as a member of a particular sex (whether or
not the person is recognised as such):
(i) by assuming characteristics of that sex, whether by
means of medical intervention, style of dressing or
otherwise; or
(ii) by living, or seeking to live, as a member of that sex.

Looks good right?  On the surface, the right words are there – there’s a second clause which exists for people of indeterminate sex.  But read it a bit harder, and you’ll see where the problem is – “the identification, on a genuine basis, … as a member of a particular sex”.  Gender identity does not permit intersex people (or any people, for that matter) to identify as neither, or both, or indeterminate, or anything except either male or female and still receive the benefits of the anti-discrimination legislation.

“We’ll help you, but you have to pick one.  Until you pick a side, you’re fair game.”  No room for a Switzerland in the gender divide, it seems.

So this is one of the major failings of the draft.  Another is the inclusion of the wording “on a genuine basis” – There are going to be some interesting judgment calls over the next while on what exactly “a genuine basis” might be.  How will someone prove that they genuinely identify as a member of the opposite gender – and how do they challenge the assertion that they don’t genuinely identify?

And then there’s the other thing I have a major problem with: (Section 33, pp48-49)

Exceptions for religious bodies and educational institutions
Protected attributes to which these exceptions apply

(1) The exceptions in this section apply in relation to the following
protected attributes:
(a) gender identity;
(b) marital or relationship status;
(c) potential pregnancy;
(d) pregnancy;
(e) religion;
(f) sexual orientation.
Exception for conduct of body established for religious purposes
(2) Subject to subsection (3), it is not unlawful for a person (the first
person) to discriminate against another person if:
(a) the first person is a body established for religious purposes,
or an officer, employee or agent of such a body; and
(b) the discrimination consists of conduct, engaged in in good
faith, that:
(i) conforms to the doctrines, tenets or beliefs of that
religion; or
(ii) is necessary to avoid injury to the religious sensitivities
of adherents of that religion; and
(c) the discrimination is on the ground of a protected attribute to
which this exception applies, or a combination of 2 or more
protected attributes to which this exception applies.
(3) The exception in subsection (2) does not apply if:
(a) the discrimination is connected with the provision, by the
first person, of Commonwealth-funded aged care; and
(b) the discrimination is not connected with the employment of
persons to provide that aged care.
Exception for conduct of educational institution conducted in
accordance with tenets etc. of a religion
(4) It is not unlawful for a person (the first person) to discriminate
against another person if:
(a) the first person is an educational institution that is conducted
in accordance with the doctrines, tenets, beliefs or teachings
of a particular religion, or an officer, employee or agent of
such an institution; and
(b) the discrimination is connected with employment by the
educational institution, or with the provision of education or
training by the institution; and
(c) the discrimination consists of conduct, engaged in in good
faith, that:
(i) conforms to the doctrines, tenets or beliefs of that
religion; or
(ii) is necessary to avoid injury to the religious sensitivities
of adherents of that religion; and
(d) the discrimination is on the ground of a protected attribute to
which this exception applies, or a combination of 2 or more
protected attributes to which this exception applies.

In short: Schools, Employment agencies, and in fact any religiously affiliated body can choose to withhold services from people on the basis of:    gender identity; marital or relationship status; potential pregnancy; pregnancy; religion; sexual orientation.

So if your church believes only those women who cannot get pregnant should be teachers, in their school, they can discriminate on those grounds.  They get to discriminate in their disability services, choosing not to provide services to transgender or gay clients – provided they can make the claim that it’s a belief of their religion.  If living together unmarried is a sin, they can choose not to hire you – or for that matter, refuse to accept your children into the school.  These organisations can choose not to provide services that the government pays them to provide on the basis of attributes otherwise protected by federal law. (Unless they’re providing aged care – aged care institutions are not allowed to discriminate against clients)

And it doesn’t stop there – oh no. They can also discriminate when it comes to hiring staff – even if they’re an aged care provider. We are seeing people fired for being pregnant out of wedlock, for being found out as being gay, for “living in sin”.  Whether they’re a cleaner, a teacher, a nurse, or a receptionist, people the government have identified as being at risk of discrimination are not being protected against Religious Organisations who are some of Australia’s biggest employers.

Some people have suggested that Section 32 is a problem as well.  I don’t. It basically permits religions to discriminate how the like when it comes to appointing their ministers.  I think that it *is* reasonable to discriminate for these positions as having someone that does *not* fit your belief-mold is a bit hypocritical when they then espouse the conflicting tenet.  They get to pick and choose on 11 of the 17 protected attributes.

I think concern about s32 is misplaced.  I wouldn’t want to dictate who could be a minister of religion – that *is* a religious decision.

Other people have also raised concerns about the inclusion of offence as part of the discrimination act – I can see their point, but I don’t think it’s as important as the two points I’m writing about tonight.

So there’s a report out on the 18th, which I’ll be reading and forming an opinion on for you shortly afterward!

In short, Section 6’s lack of Intersex and Section 33’s broad application to clients and employees of religious organisations alike I find disturbing.  I had hoped that the Abbott and the Opposition might make efforts to force amendments to the bill in these areas, but they’ve indicated they’re just going to vote no instead.  I guess they couldn’t afford to look like an effective opposition.