14 January 2013

The Applicant

Because religious bigotry is legal.

I’ve been looking through your resume, Miss Collins - I must say,
You’re by far the finest applicant we’ve seen.
You’re experienced, accomplished and adept in every way,
And your background check came back especially clean.
I’m impressed by your credentials, and the knowledge that they bring,
I can say the same for all the skills you’ve mastered.
I’d employ you in an instant, but for one wee little thing:
You’re unmarried, and your son was born a bastard.

Australia's anti-discrimination laws exist so that you, I and everyone else can have a fair crack at getting a job for which we're qualified. They generally state that certain things cannot provide the basis for whether an employer offers you a job or not. Things like gender, beliefs, race, marital status or disability. For example, if you're a single, gay Lithuanian Muslim with an amputated arm and you apply for a job as an accountant, your potential employer is legally obliged to give you the same consideration for the job as they do for a divorced, straight, Scottish atheist with a third nipple. 

Except if the employer is a religious organisation. Then the government thinks it's special

Did you know that in Australia, religious organisations are legally allowed to refuse employment to unmarried parents, non-heterosexual people, people of a different religion or no religion, and people who have had extra-marital affairs? 

Exemptions to Equal Opportunity Employment for religious organisations exist in order to protect their so-called "freedom of religion". The rationale is that, because the religion under which some schools, hospitals and nursing homes operate are traditionally bigoted, homophobic, antiquated and unrealistic, that they should be able to reflect those attributes in their employment practices. 

It doesn't matter that those employment practices conflict with the Human Rights standards that Australia has adopted for employees in other parts of society. Religious organisations are special, and the Australian Government sees fit to write their special status into law. 

In a nutshell, that law says: 
Thou shalt not discriminate on the basis of religion, unless of course you ARE a religion, in which case, GO NUTS. 

Go read David Marr's rightfully cranky piece about this, from today's Sydney Morning Herald.