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Monday, 8 September 2008

Fighting the fight against homophobia with homophobia – the Christian way

It's not safe to use a Victoria, Australia, adventure resort if you're gay. Well, that seems to be the verdict of its owners.

But, then, its owners are Christians of the decidedly undesirable variety, so it comes as no surprise.

The Christian Brethren have told a young people's support group for gays, called Way Out, that they can't use their Phillip Island Adventure Resort camp for a meeting about how to tackle homophobia. Yet the Christians have proved that such a meeting is required by being – well – homophobic.

Australia's Sunday Age says:

The rejection by the Phillip Island Adventure Resort so angered the rural gay people's support group, Way Out, that they have challenged it in the Victorian Equal Opportunities and Human Rights Commission, and now the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

But the law is stacked against the young people: religious groups in Victoria are allowed to discriminate against anyone as long as it is done due to "genuine religious beliefs or principles".

The general manager of Christian Youth Camps, which owns the site, Glyn Mahon, says the church has not been able to agree on the group's booking for safety reasons. "Our definition of safety, because of our Christian faith, does not support or include the promotion of homosexuality," he said.

So that explains it, then. Not homophobia. Just safety.

What is particularly galling is that these religious groups get tax concessions because, as with religious organisations here in the UK, they're . . . you've guessed it: they're religious. The Sunday Age article continues:

Way Out's co-ordinator, Sue Hackney, said her clients were from country areas, and suffered terrible, sometimes violent, homophobia and high rates of suicide. The weekend camp, scheduled for the middle of last year, was intended to give them a break by the beach, where they could seek support and discuss how to combat homophobia in their towns.

"It's a bitter irony that the very first thing we experienced when we set out to book the camp was a case of blatant discrimination."

Irony indeed!
Hat tip: Barry Duke at the Freethinker

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