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Privileging prejudice: the threat and opportunity posed by the movement for 'religious freedom'

By Rodney Croome - posted Wednesday, 5 June 2019

I'm old enough to remember when Australians who didn't like LGBTI people were honest enough to say so.

I recall like it was yesterday, then Tasmanian Premier, Robin Gray, declaring homosexuals were not welcome in the state.

That comment in 1988 helped galvanise me and other LGBTI Tasmanians into a movement that finally rid Tasmania and the nation of criminal laws against homosexuality.


Thirty years on, in this post-marriage equality Australia, it is no longer respectable to be so overtly homophobic.

Instead, anti-LGBTI prejudice has found euphemisms to hide behind like "religious freedom", "freedom of speech", "freedom of conscience" and "parental rights".

Should you need these euphemisms translated here's a handy glossary:

"Religious freedom" means punching holes in discrimination law so LGBTI people can be legally denied services in the name of religion.

"Freedom of speech" means overriding hate speech laws so LGBTI people can be denigrated if a deity can be invoked to justify it.

"Freedom of conscience" means discrimination and hate speech against LGBTI people even if you don't believe in God.


"Parental rights" means two things: preventing governments from funding programs that promote inclusion for LGBTI students, and blocking laws that allow transgender teenagers to have their gender identity recognised.

How religious freedom came to mean legal privilege for anti-gay prejudice

This is a far cry from the original, noble meaning of religious freedom.

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About the Author

Rodney Croome is a spokesperson for Equality Tasmania and national advocacy group, just.equal. He who was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2003 for his LGBTI advocacy.

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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