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Australian Christian group demands atheists get right to discriminate against gays who marry

Australian Christian group demands atheists get right to discriminate against gays who marry

One of the religious groups campaigning against the legalization of same-sex marriage in Australia has revealed that they also want atheists and people who have no firm religious beliefs to be able to legally discriminate against gay couples if they work in the wedding industry.

The Australian Christian Lobby’s (ACL) managing director Lyle Shelton revealed this wish in a press release welcoming the news that Australia may hold a $160 million non-legally binding public vote on same-sex marriage to placate the ‘No’ campaign before the end of the year.

Australian Attorney General George Brandis said the so-called ‘plebiscite’ vote would be held before the end of 2016 – however that has since been called into doubt by statements to the press from the office of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

‘While we welcome Senator Brandis’ recognition that protection is needed for religious wedding celebrants, freedom of conscience rights must also be extended to people of faith or no faith who supply services to the wedding industry,’ Shelton demanded.

‘In the United States and Europe bakers, florists, photographers and wedding chapel owners have all fallen foul of the law, and in some cases have incurred big fines, for exercising their conscientiously held views about the truth of marriage,’ Shelton claimed.

‘Clergy are not the only ones with freedom of conscience rights.’

GSN is not aware of any case around the world of a person in the wedding industry refusing to do business with a gay couple who are marrying for non-faith based reasons.

Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome said that while churches were already free to marry only who they pleased it was important that private businesses should not be able to discriminate based on their owners’ or employees’ personal beliefs.

‘I am not aware of atheist wedding service providers who currently have a problem with same-sex commitment or civil union ceremonies,’ Croome said.

‘Nor do wedding service providers balk at marriages between divorced partners, or interracial or interfaith marriages. So why do they need an exemption to allow them to turn away same-sex marrying couples?

‘This is about the ACL’s crusade to roll back anti-discrimination laws, not the genuine needs of wedding service providers.’

Croome said the fact that the ACL wanted non-religious people exempted showed where their real intentions lay.

‘The ACL’s [past] rationale for allowing wedding service providers to discriminate against same-sex couples was that some providers may have a religious objection to participating in a same-sex marriage,’ Croome said.

‘The fact the ACL now wants an exemption for non-religious providers shows its push isn’t about religion values at all, but simply about enabling prejudice.’

Shelton recently attracted widespread ridicule after he suggested on television that one reason he was opposed to same-sex marriage was that people might not assume he was married to a woman if they found out he was married.