The Religious Discrimination Bill promised by the government in the wake of the plebiscite on same-sex marriage is about to enter a new round of debates in parliament. And new cases are continually raising questions about what religious freedom should look like in Australia, showing how important it is that we get this right.
Terri Keleher, the new National President of the Australian Family Association, warns that the current debate around religion is actually part of a larger cultural revolution. Talking to Neil Johnson on Vision’s 20Twenty program, she said it’s important that the new anti-discrimination laws ultimately protect religious views on gender as well as marriage.
Until recently, Kelleher said, the basics of human biology have never been called into question. “But there’s now been the gender fluid, or transgender worldview, that’s being pushed into schools, and it’s also being pushed into the culture, by what we term gender identity laws.”
Kelleher pointed out that when the definition of legal marriage was changed, the new wording allowed “any two people” to be wed, which actually also legalises transgender marriage. Similarly, all state-based anti-discrimination laws now include definitions of gender which allow for people to identify as a gender other than their biological sex, and alter their biological sex surgically.
This is a concern for any person working in a school who holds a biological worldview, because school policies now protect alternative views on sex and gender. “They must affirm a student and support a student, even without the parents’ consent, if the student is a mature minor, to express their gender identity, which may be different to their biological sex.”
Article 18 in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights includes protections for religion, conscience, thought and belief. Kelleher says that if these are to be upheld in Australia, our anti-discrimination laws need to protect religious beliefs regarding gender. “Our recommendation is that the definition of religious belief or activity include the belief that sexual identity is binary, male and female, according to reproductive function.”
“We think that there should be a consequential amendment too to the Sex Discrimination Act, to reinsert the definitions of male and female, which were removed in 2013, when a definition of gender identity and sexual orientation was inserted.”
Some argue that this protection isn’t relevant to the upcoming bill, as the argument about gender is in fact a scientific debate. But it’s vital that while this argument continues, people are allowed to live according to their own beliefs.
Most if not all major religious traditions hold the biological worldview of sexual identity. That’s why it’s of particular concern to religious people.
Listen to Terri Keleher’s conversation with Neil Johnson below for more about how the normalisation of a non-biological definition of gender could prove harmful to individuals and societies.
For more information about the Australian Family Association’s views on the upcoming bill, visit their website.
Tune into 20Twenty and join the conversation with Neil Johnson, weekdays on Vision Christian Radio. Click here for your local times and more interviews.