Bretheren case ‘has future implications’

Bretheren case ‘has future implications’

A case before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) could have future implications on the way religious groups can legally discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation.

The Christian Brethren vs WayOut hearing before VCAT has heard that the Christian Brethren Youth Camps (CYC) would need to establish why it was necessary to their religious beliefs to refuse the WayOut youth group accommodation at the site.

“You can’t be selective and pick the bits of religious belief to justify [an exemption] … when there are aspects of religious beliefs that would require you to act entirely in the opposite,” Debbie Mortimer SC said.

WayOut — a support group for rural same-sex attracted youth ­— lodged the case against the Christian Brethren owners of Phillip Island Adventure Resort two years ago after being refused use of the resort camping facilities.

Legal counsel for CYC, Greg Garde QC said there had been misunderstanding about the content of a phone call that took place, which had become the subject of proceedings.

He told the hearing that camping ground manager Mark Rowe had expressed a concern the board of the CYC may not support the “promotion of homosexuality” in the context of the age of the young people.

The Victorian Equal Opportunity Act (EOA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but allows exemptions for some religious groups.

The case also raises question of the right of businesses run by religious groups to claim exemptions under the EOA.

Keren Palermo, 19, from LaTrobe Valley was to attend the camp at Phillip Island. She told Sydney Star Observer she was upset when the group was turned down.

“We were really shocked at first, and after it sunk in a bit I was really angry,” she said.

Palermo was forced to leave school aged 16, the victim of homophobic bullying at a rural school.

“I really didn’t enjoy school at all from the bullying, so I quit … it made me feel so depressed just being there it was awful,” she said.

Palermo, who has since returned to school to complete Year 12, said when the WayOut camp was eventually held in Bacchus Marsh months later it had a positive impact on her life.

“It was a life changing event for me and the group … all the other young people were just so incredibly inspiring,” she said.

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3 responses to “Bretheren case ‘has future implications’”

  1. Bayne MacGregor- I could not agree more.

    Having lived in country towns, I can say problems have existed with Catholic Pharmacist. They would not stock the Pill or sell condemns in some of the towns I lived in. There are already great problems with some people imposing religious views on essential services.

    This is an important case.

  2. If it’s a business it shouldn’t get an anti-discrimination exemption. And it shouldn’t get a religious groups tax exemption either.

    If they want to have their church discriminate who it lets in thats fine. But if they make a buck or perform an essential public service then it’s a bussiness or a charity not a religius practice.

    Would we like a police officer to choose who to do their job properly with and who not to? Wouldit be ok if a religious police officer refused to arrest members of their own faith? No, they need to do their job regardless. So to must it be with any shop assistant or cleaner or chef or any other bussiness.

  3. If the Brethren ran the only GP clinic or pharmacy in a country town, should they be able to legally not provide treatment to someone due to the colour of their skin if that is how they read the Bible? Should we not be able to eat WheatBix if the 7th Day Adventist owners of Sanatarium ,decided only those with black shirts should not be able to eat them? The idea that one should know the interpretation of the Bible an owner of a business has when trying to engage a business is absurd. That is what is being asked. Know who owns a business, and expect to be discriminated against for a variety of reasons. Not simply if someone is from the GLTBQI community, but if they have a different skin colour or a different hair colour. Who knows what some Cults believe these days. If they are able to discriminate when running a business it could paralyse industry and wreck Australia. A few lines in the Bible were used to justify businesses using Jewish and GLBTQI slave labour in Germany. Thousands died or were horrifically injured. Germany introduced good laws after the war to ensure such an interpretation of the Bible is not used to kill or enslave people again.

    People with a different skin colour, or even different religion have been discriminated against by some religious groups in the past.

    The Brethren have sought to run a commercial business and have all the financial benefits of doing so. A business, in this case a resort, is subject to many laws that a religious group is not. Imagine if they had a sign saying “No Chinese”?

    This is not a case about a GLBTQI group wanting to become part of the Brethren Church and being turned away. This is a story about owners of a commercial business that sought to discriminate, whilst wanting all the financial advantages of running a commercial business. The owner of the Resort happened to be the Brethren. It would not matter if it were Santa worshipers who owned it.

    Some Religious Cults have been writing into the forums here quoting God, and saying members of our community take their own life because they are deviant. They then go onto say we do not respect Christians. I was shocked at such Evil people writing with menacing hate. Fortunately I was reminded of the 101 Reverends that marched in Mardi Gras marched against such Evil as those that sought to vilify us using a perverted reading of the bible. Indeed there are openly Gay Bishops, Nuns, and Priest, Monks, and Brothers.

    My partner is a Director of Medical Services. He does not run medical services and say no Brethren. He does stop people in emergency and say I am worshiping Blondes today, only natural ones. What if the Brethren buy the only Postal Service in a country area, should some people not get mail? Single women, no, Buddhist, no, Catholics, no, and so on it could go. This would be very destructive for Australia.

    Our community, and Australia will win this case no matter what the outcome. If the Brethren win then law reform will follow. This would be a fantastic example of what is wrong with the law. If the group wins then we will win also. The case is being watched by many law makers as well as those that run many of Australia’s Christian Cults.