The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) is urging New South Wales political leaders to commit to a Religious Discrimination Act ahead of next month’s state election.
NSW director Rob Norman says: “Christians are facing increased hostility because of their decisions of conscience.”
The latest victim is Sydney Kwik Kopy franchisee Wing Khong who declined to print flyers for a Pride Roller Derby event because of his faith.
He politely wrote to the prospective customer: “I am unable to print this job for you. I am a Christian and my faith requires me to obey what the Bible teaches. I hope you understand.”
Many people didn’t understand and he has been widely derided for his rejection of the order.
Kwik Kopy Australia CEO Sonia Swabsky apologised and organised for the flyers to be printed elsewhere.
“This is by no means reflective of our values and code of conduct, of which every franchisee is versed. Our organisation embraces a richness of cultures and a look into the make-up of our teams to reinforce our stance on diversity,” she said.
One of the roller derby skaters involved Vanessa Peterson told news.com.au that the situation highlighted why pride was important.
“This is the reason we need to celebrate pride and normalise our differences,” she said.
“They have addressed it, they responded to it, we managed to get our flyers printed, they directed us to another one of their branches and did it for free.”
The ACL says the incident underlines why NSW needs religious discrimination laws that offer real protection for people of faith.
Under the 1984 Sex Discrimination Act it is widely interpreted that it is illegal to refuse goods or services based on sexuality or gender.
Mr. Norman said no-one should be forced to participate in something that contradicts their religious beliefs.
“Mr. Khong’s mainstream religious beliefs, whilst unprotected by NSW law, are no less deserving of respect than other rights,” he stated.
“Despite media hype using inflammatory language such as ‘gay hate row’ in reference to this case, there was nothing hateful in the email sent by the franchisee to the customer,” Mr. Norman noted.
“The way forward that inflicts the least harm on all parties was simply to choose another printer. There are countless other print shops that would do the printing, which is what has occurred.”
Mr. Khong declined to comment except to say he had been inundated with calls and messages of support.