Freedom goes both ways

Freedomgoesbothways.pngThe same-sex marriage debate has divided the country on many fronts, and a resolution is still yet to be reached on the protection of individual rights and freedoms.

Both Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten promised protections for religious freedom during the campaign, but the promises came to no avail, with amendments to the legislation failing in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. A review of religious freedoms has been initiated, but what will it accomplish?

It is unrealistic to assume that failing to explicitly outline freedoms will not have negative results for the rights of ordinary Australians, yet these concerns are being swept under the rug. Protections need to be in place to guarantee freedom of speech and freedom of belief because such freedoms are the main pillars of a free society.

Granting one individual the freedom to do something does not mean that his or her freedom can infringe on the rights of another. Discrimination goes both ways.

As Steve Chavura, a columnist in the Australian recently stated:

Today’s debate on religious freedom has not arisen in a vacuum. Amendments to Dean Smith’s same-sex marriage bill that would guarantee freedom of speech, ­association, and conscience would be redundant were there no appetite to restrict such freedoms. But there is such an appetite, and its ferocity is revealed more and more by the day…

He also points out that the right to “discriminate” is exercised daily in politics and in the media, two industries highly resistant to protecting the freedoms of those who disagree with same-sex marriage:

For example, how long will a political party exist without the right to discriminate in favour of potential candidates and staffers who adhere to the principles of that party? The same goes for a trade union, Get Up!, a church, a charity, and a school.

Lobby groups, the media, political parties, businesses, educational institutions, and charities make up civil society — that free, voluntary sphere that seeks to have a positive influence on government and other people’s lives. Without the right to discriminate in employment this sphere disappears and the social needs that it meets are taken up by the state. Liberals should be especially concerned with this.

The point should be clear: some rights to discriminate are valid because they are anchored to the preservation of social goods and ideals that constitute a free society 

This isnt so much liberal identity politics as it is just classical liberalism. It merely requests the negative liberty to abstain from ­violating ones own conscience, rather than demanding that everyone else celebrate and honour it with punitive measures against those who resist.

Any organisation or individual should be allowed the freedom to hold their own beliefs, religious or otherwise, and those freedoms should be protected. Chavura stated:“If freedom leads to plurality of opinions, then freedom is the greatest enemy of any movement that demands uniformity of opinion on questions of sexuality and gender.”

Freedom means the ability to hold your own opinions, not impose those opinions on others. However,  that seems to be what supporters of same-sex marriage want. We need to keep fighting to ensure religious freedoms are protected!

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