Alex Greenwich’s LGBT bucket list could smother religious freedom in NSW

Over the past 500 years one of the great advances of Western culture is the revolutionary notion of tolerance. Tolerance is a hard-won virtue. Throughout history, most societies have adopted a “convert or die” approach.

But Christian denominations eventually learned how to live peacefully with each other and with other faith traditions. After centuries of bloodshed and quarrels, Christians generally rub along quite cheerfully.

As a reminder of that harmony, the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, recently appeared before a committee of the New South Wales parliament to critique the Equality Legislation Amendment (LGBTIQA+) Bill. He was representing both Catholic and Orthodox bishops.

Joint action like this would have been unusual a hundred years ago, and almost inconceivable two or three hundred years ago. The principle of cuius regio, eius religio, which emerged from the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, was the classic expression of religious tolerance in early modern Europe. A loose translation of the Latin is: your king’s religion will be your religion. All the king’s subjects were free to practice any religion they liked -- as long as it was the king’s religion. Tolerance, such as it was, was a zero-sum game. The mere presence of dissenters or heretics was thought to threaten the stability of the state. Only one religion could be tolerated.

With the growing power of the LGBTIQA+ movement, are we in danger of reversing the gains of centuries and returning to a zero-sum conception of tolerance?

The Bill has been drafted by Independent gay MP Alex Greenwich. He successfully helped to engineer the passage of bills decriminalising abortion and legalising euthanasia in the state of NSW. His Equality Bill seeks to extend the religion of unfettered autonomy to all corners of society.

In truth, “equality” is a misnomer. “Equality” connotes tolerance of other approaches, opinions, and religions. Greenwich’s version of equality seeks to impose acceptance of his dogmas on dissidents.

The most aggressively intolerant section of the bill will make it impossible for schools and other organizations to sack people who do not accept the organization’s ethos. A boys’ school would not be able to dismiss, for instance, a teacher who returned from the Christmas break as a transwoman.  Cuius regio, eius religio.

As Archbishop Fisher told the committee: “We sympathise with all efforts to discourage or forbid unjust discrimination against LGBT people but there is a troubling anti-religious undercurrent in the bill. For example, the bill proposes to remove the few existing protections for religious institutions from anti-discrimination lawfare, including schools, healthcare, aged care, welfare & pastoral services, while offering no protections at all for individuals of faith.”

Parents select schools which promote the values that they want for their children. A transwoman teacher would certainly disrupt the transmission of those values in the eyes of Christian parents. The so-called Equality Bill is actually discriminating against them and forcing them to accept Greenwich’s faux religion. We are moving back to the 17th century. 

After the Peace of Westphalia, Catholics in Protestant countries or Protestants in Catholic countries had three options. They could practice their faith in secret, hoping to evade the vigilance of the authorities. They could convert. Or they could migrate. English Catholics went underground. English Puritans fled to New England; French Huguenots moved to England, Holland, and America.

Similarly, at the moment, parents who don’t like woke schools can “migrate” – send their children to a more congenial school. Under the Equality Bill, they will effectively be forced to conceal their views or to jump onto the bandwagon.



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And that’s not all

There are more problems with Greenwich’s LGBT laundry list. It would allow people to use commercial surrogacy overseas. Since most overseas surrogate mothers are poor and disadvantaged, this is tantamount to outsourcing sexual servitude. It would allow people to define their own gender, leading to all sorts of social, legal, and medical muddles.

But the most troubling of the other provisions is removing all summary offences related to prostitution, or sex work, as Greenwich calls it. These include legalising: pimping and living off the earning of a prostitute; prostitution in massage parlours (which are ubiquitous in Sydney); advertising for sex services; and advertising for prostitutes.

And, amazingly, the bill will remove the offence of soliciting near vulnerable persons. Currently the law is that: “A person shall not, in or near, or within view from, a dwelling, school, church, hospital or public place, solicit another person, for the purpose of prostitution, in a manner that harasses or distresses the other person.” This will no longer be an offence.

This means that prostitutes would be able to ply their trade outside school or churches.

Meanwhile there is a 150-metre bubble zone around all abortion clinics in NSW. A pensioner can be arrested for rattling her rosary within this “safe access” zone. But sex workers could pass out their business cards in the back of Archbishop Fisher’s cathedral without committing an offence. Or in a boys’ high school.

The only plausible explanation for this insanity is that Greenwich and his allies in the NSW Parliament intend to impose an LGBT creed upon Australia’s Christians – and Jews and Muslims, for that matter. They will become second-class citizens banished from the public square. In his second reading speech Greenwich promised that his bill would offer “an unprecedented opportunity to be inclusive, welcoming, safe, affirming and respectful”. That might be true for LGBT sympathisers, but not for dissidents. Cuius regio, eius religio.  

Do you support Alex Greenwich's Equality Bill? Tell us why in the comments below. 

Michael Cook is editor of Mercator.  

Images: Bigstock


Showing 7 reactions

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  • Tim Lee
    David, that my experience of the Church is so different from yours explains why we are poles apart in our perspectives on faith. You are unable to shake off the yoke of resentment towards her and this colours your outlook on a range of issues. I trust my instincts no less than you but instinct is not a sufficient basis for morality. One man’s instinct can guide him very differently from another’s and that’s why there is so much strife and bloodshed in the world.

    There’s common sense and there’s educated common sense. I recently made a new friend who’s a Unitarian and grew up as a Catholic… haven’t had a chance to ask him about his faith yet. Beyond the chip on your shoulder about religion (negative faith), what do you believe (positive faith), David? Do you believe in limits to personal autonomy?
  • David Page
    commented 2024-05-13 11:21:36 +1000
    Tim, I do not hate virtue. I do, however, question your interpretation of it. I trust my instincts, As you probably know, my experience with your church was less than stellar. It convinced me that I could understand right and wrong without interference from an institution that was, in my experience completely off the track. What the church did to me would, in our modern time, have landed some of them in prison. Should they regain the power they once had they would do it again.
  • Tim Lee
    You’re welcome, Mrs Cracker! Thank you for adding value to a range of articles here with your sensible and heartfelt perspective. I always look forward to reading your comments.
  • mrscracker
    Thank you so much for sharing those thoughts, Mr. Lee.
    Well said.
  • Tim Lee
    Some folks calls themselves “non-believers” but this tends to be a misnomer. We start by tolerating vice and soon find ourselves hating virtue. Alexander Pope:

    “Vice is a monster of so frightful mien
    As to be hated needs but to be seen
    Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face
    We first endure, then pity, then embrace.”

    Nature abhors a vacuum. In the absence of belief in God, we are tempted to make ourselves gods, first of our own little world then of an ever-wider milieu. Personal autonomy becomes absolute, the start of a faux religion that hates those who believe in an Order that transcends our individuality. Blessed Fulton Sheen:

    “America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance – it is not. It is suffering from tolerance. Tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos. Our country is not nearly so overrun with the bigoted as it is overrun with the broadminded.”

    “Broadmindedness, when it means indifference to right and wrong, eventually ends in a hatred of what is right.”
  • Paul Bunyan
    commented 2024-05-08 13:46:34 +1000
    Religious people in Australia have lived lives of privilege for decades. So to them, equality feels like oppression.
  • Michael Cook
    published this page in The Latest 2024-05-08 12:56:28 +1000