Holy Freight Train Coming

A review is under way on whether we need new laws to protect ‘religious freedom’. This is about much more than florists and cake bakers: there’s a runaway freight train coming that could smash our rights to healthcare, housing and a raft of other services too. Unless we act now.

Look to America to see what’s coming our way. Watch tRump. He does what the American Christaliban – Liberty Council, Alliance Defending Freedom, and sundry evangelical crackpots – want.

The Australian Christaliban Lobby and their fellow travellers in the LNP want the same thing, slavishly following the same script, attempting to import the same policies.

The same exemptions that Erica Betz, George Christensen, Cory Bernardi and others tried to cram into the Marriage Act when it was amended to include LGBTI. And more.

You may remember that Malcolm Turnbull bought them off by setting up an ‘expert panel’, led by Philip Ruddock, to examine the scope of religious freedom, and to recommend if there should be additional ‘protections’, i.e., exemptions to anti-discrimination law. They will be watching what’s happening in the US.

US Assault on LGBTI Rights

So what is tRump doing now to suck up to his “Christian” mates? He’s planning to vastly increase the scope of religious and conscientious exemptions to anti-discrimination law. Just as the LNP plans to do here via the Ruddock inquiry. But it’s about much much more than florists and wedding cakes.

In his Presidential Proclamation for Religious Freedom Day, tRump said,

“Unfortunately, not all have recognized the importance of religious freedom, whether by threatening tax consequences for particular forms of religious speech, or forcing people to comply with laws that violate their core religious beliefs… I addressed these issues in an Executive Order that helps ensure Americans are able to follow their consciences without undue Government interference and the Department of Justice has issued guidance to Federal agencies regarding their compliance with laws that protect religious freedom.  No American — whether a nun, nurse, baker, or business owner — should be forced to choose between the tenants of faith or adherence to the law.”

https://www.salon.com/2018/01/16/trump-uses-religious-freedom-day-proclamation-to-preach-intolerance/

The practical effect of this will shortly be felt in American hospitals, clinics and doctors offices, as the administration moves to overhaul the Health & Human Services Civil Rights office, bringing in new rules to protect conscientious objectors to e.g., abortion and gender affirmation.

“The pending rule would establish a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division of the HHS civil rights office that would conduct compliance reviews, audits and other enforcement actions to ensure that health care providers are allowing workers to opt out of procedures when they have religious or moral objections…

The office would also conduct outreach and technical support to help others who are seeking to strengthen protections for workers with religious and moral objections to certain procedures.

The civil rights office continues to have broad authority to interpret existing statutes, which could allow it to substantially expand the scope of current conscience rules without an act of Congress — a key tool in the administration’s push to shield these workers, according to individuals who have been briefed on the office’s plans.

Patient groups and legal organizations vowed to challenge HHS if providers are allowed to deny care based on criteria like a patient’s gender or gender expression. “Should the administration choose to move forward to implement a discriminatory policy, we will see them in court,” Louise Melling, of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.”

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/01/16/conscience-abortion-transgender-patients-health-care-289542

Zealots in the tRump administration are pushing for ‘protections’ that would allow workers to opt out of anything they morally object to, e.g.:

  • end-of-life care
  • birth control
  • treatment for HIV and AIDS
  • fertility treatment to lesbian couples
  • surrogacy work
  • ambulance transport to pregnant women seeking an abortion
  • procedures for transgender patients
  • care of LGBTI patients

An announcement is expected Thursday (US time).

America Sneezes: Australia Catches Cold

This is the same agenda being pushed by Lyle Shelton and the Australian Christaliban Lobby. This is about much more than whether a baker should be ‘forced’ to bake a cake for a gay wedding, or a reception centre be allowed to turn away lesbian couples.

Make a Submission

It is imperative as many of us as possible write a submission to the Ruddock panel, to counter the flood of submissions beings organised by the churches and the ACL. If you don’t know what to say, PFLAG have provided a guide.

And there are sample submissions here on this site.

And there’s a petition to sign http://inquiry-justequal.nationbuilder.com/

Don’t think “she’ll be right”.
Don’t think “they’ll never do that.”
Don’t think “that’s not my job.”
It won’t, they will, and it is.

You only have till Valentines Day, Feb 14, so before you start wallowing in roses and chocs, get writing, get submitting, get signing.

Thanks.

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About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years."Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)