MBH (my better half) and I were both gobsmacked when Prime Minister Julia Gillard gave her seal of approval to faith-based organisations wishing to discriminate against homosexuals in the work force. Ms. Gillard’s decision to endorse bigotry to “avoid injury to the sensitivities” of particular religious groups goes against the basic Australian belief that everyone regardless of race, religion or sexuality should be treated with respect and dignity.

By denying homosexuals equal civil rights, our prime minister is sending out a very clear message to our community. We are mere second-class citizens and our sensitivities are inconsequential.

My partner and I are still trying to wrap our heads around the argument that a person’s sexuality could get in the way of their profession. What it really says to us is that any gay employee working for an organisation run by a religious group puts him/herself at the mercy of their employer.

Stay in the closet, keep in line and you’ll be fine. Be true to yourself and we’ll fire your arse!

Treating homosexuality as a “lifestyle” choice makes as much sense as blaming someone for their race or eye colour. It’s tantamount to playing God and judging someone’s core identity over their actions. No one should ever be given that right, let alone an employer.

Given the shortage of staff and funding in education and health care, one would think that employees working in faith-based schools, universities, hospitals, retirement villages and nursing homes would be valued and held in high regard. These people are after all the pillars of our society.

Sadly, personal religious beliefs continue to take precedence over public ethics. It is a real slap in the face to the many gay teachers, care-givers, nurses and doctors who do a fantastic job, going beyond the call of duty, caring for others.

Australians are very clear about their stance regarding homosexuality, gay marriage and equal civil rights. Recently asked on the Sydney Morning Herald website whether faith-based organisations should be allowed to refuse to hire people who don’t live according to the organisation’s belief system, 63% of poll takers answered “no”.

We live in a country that reflects a democratic ideology; a society that promises equal opportunities to all and vows to protect the vulnerable. A majority of Australians strive to uphold these values. Why don’t our leaders?

Julia Gillard’s speeches about moving our nation forward remain nothing but talk. My message to her is simple. Ensure all citizens are treated equally, regardless of their sexual identity. Fairness, decency and respect are the elements that will ultimately make our society evolve and turn Australia into the fantastic country God intended it to be.

Follow Luke Brighty on Twitter via @brightlights_66

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