Religious freedom back on the agenda

Religious freedom back on the agenda

LBGTIQA activists are fighting it all the way.

Despite telling the Australian people during the plebiscite that same-sex marriage would not affect anyone else’s rights and freedoms, LGBTIQA+ activists are now vigorously resisting the Government’s attempts to make good on this promise.

They’ve stepped up their anti-freedom efforts this week after the Attorney General, Michaelia Cash, announced she was dusting off Covid-stalled religious freedom laws.

The timing coincides with the latest legal attack by activists in the United States on Colorado baker Jack Phillips.

Yesterday he was fined for politely declining to decorate a transgender cake for a man identifying as a woman.

Protecting service providers from being forced to violate their conscience on marriage and biological gender has not been included in Australia’s draft legislation but clearly needs to be.

Remember the big idea of same-sex marriage, according to the Yes Campaign, was that the reform was for the loving couples and did not impact anyone else.

When the Coalition for Marriage, of which I was a spokesperson, repeatedly warned that freedom of speech, religion and the rights of parents to have their children free of gender fluid indoctrination at school would be consequences, we were ridiculed.

Former Prime Minister John Howard saw the risk.

His pleas to protect freedom of religion before changing the Marriage Act fell on deaf ears, with the then Turnbull Government creating the Ruddock Commission to address freedoms after the horse had bolted, weaponising anti-discrimination laws in its wake.

If only Mr Howard had been listened to. Now supporters of same-sex marriage like Liberal MP Warren Entsch are opposing the Attorney General’s attempts to keep the Morrison Government’s promise to restore the freedoms lost because of the change to the Marriage Act.

“I would warn against compromising the gains made by achieving marriage equality,” Entsch told The Australian.

“This issue is being predominantly pushed by institutions of Christian faith. There are a hell of a whole lot of faiths in this place.”

It’s unclear what Entsch’s point is.

While Christians and Muslims (and other religions) don’t support same-sex marriage, no one is suggesting it be unwound while ever majority support exists for it.

So no one is suggesting so-called “marriage equality” be "compromised".

However, accommodating other people’s beliefs was always supposed to be part of the deal until this was left out of the 2017 bill which changed the Marriage Act.

Since same-sex marriage was introduced the Yes Campaign, now re-badged “Equality Australia”, helped sue a Christian school which wanted to uphold the parent community’s religious view of marriage.

A couple in Western Australia have been denied the opportunity to provide foster care because of their Christian views.

A wedding magazine was bullied into closing because of its policy to only feature man-woman weddings.

There is still no legislative protection for Christian ministers like Catholic Archbishop Julian Porteous who was sued for teaching Catholics Catholic teachings on marriage.

Since the change to the Marriage Act, Queensland the ACT and Victoria have introduced so-called “conversion therapy” laws which criminalise counselling that fails to affirm a child’s gender confusion.

I could go on.

Needless to say it is welcome news that religious freedom is back on the agenda.

But expect it to fought every step of the way by those who once championed tolerance and diversity.

Here in NSW the Berejiklian Government is considering its own religious freedom bill based on one put forward by One Nation’s Mark Latham.

Lyle Shelton is Director of Campaigns and Communications for the Christian Democratic Party. The Reverend Honourable Fred Nile MLC has nominated Lyle to succeed him in the NSW Parliament when he retires in November. To keep in touch with Lyle and the CDP, sign up here.