This week, in a victory for religious freedom (and common sense) two proposed laws were rejected by Victorian Parliament.
‘Inherent requirement’ test for faith-based institutions
One of the laws which was defeated is one we discussed in a previous catholicTalk column.
The proposed Equal Opportunity Amendment (Religious Exceptions) Bill 2016 would have seen an “inherent requirement” test included in “exemptions” from anti-discrimination laws.
In practice, it would have meant that faith-based agencies and schools could only consider an applicant’s religion, relationship status, sexual orientation or gender identity when making employment decisions if a demonstrated commitment to the faith of the agency or school is an “inherent requirement” of the job for which a person was applying.
What it would have meant that an anti-discrimination tribunal, and not those who run faith-based institutions, would have the power to determine the level to which faith was an important part of that institution. Under such a law, it would be the State which would decide whether it was important that maths teachers in a Catholic school were of the Catholic faith, and that would be a dramatic overreach because it is not the place of the State to decide the ethos of a religious institution.
The rejection of this bill was a big victory for religious freedom.
Annual changes to gender
The Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Amendment Bill 2016 was also rejected. If passed, the law would have allowed a person to change the gender on their identity documents every 12 months without the need for surgery or hormonal treatment. An applicant would not have been limited to choosing “male” or “female,” but rather would have been able to choose any description of their gender, provided that it was non-offensive.
Essentially, the law would have resulted in a degendering of society altogether because it would have made it an arbitrary descriptor and it would be about as relevant in describing a person’s identity as emotion would be. But biology tells us otherwise, and so the defeat of this Bill was a victory for common sense.
As same-sex marriage advocates continue to push for the use of anti-discrimination laws to marginalise people of faith, and to press for the legal degendering of society, laws like this will continue to be proposed in states around Australia. We need to remain vigilant at each of these attempts to sideline religious faith (and common sense) in our community.
Monica Doumit, catholicTalk contributor