The ABC News website ran a story last week about a 73-year-old gay man, who had reservations about entering an Anglicare retirement village. The article was entitled “After years of discrimination, many LGBTQ people are 'terrified' of going into aged care.”
This article represents a series of assumptions. That human rights are vested in individuals. That large (religious) organisations are prone to discriminate. That it is the role of the state (i.e. the government) to protect individual freedoms against powerful organisations that tend to discriminate.
This picture is incomplete. Obviously, individuals can also be guilty of discrimination. And organisations can be defenders of freedoms. But a more significant piece of the puzzle is missing.
One of the fundamental rights humans have is ‘freedom of association’. I am free to associate with whomever I please. I am also free to avoid membership of other associations I choose not to join. So, in Australia, you cannot be forced to join a Union. Nor can you be discriminated against if you do join one. And Unions are allowed to hold meetings, where only Union members are invited.
Soccer players are free to play soccer and ask rugby players to play elsewhere.
Individual Christians also have freedom of association rights. We are free to gather with whomever we please. We are free to gather together with people who believe the same things we do.
So it follows some individuals Christians could all choose to live in a retirement village where residents share the same beliefs. Anglicare could run such a village. Just as the LBGT community could run a retirement village for its people. None of this constitutes discrimination.
It turns out; if you read the article, that Geoffrey rejected at least 10 other retirement homes because they were “pretty horrible”. He found the Anglicare village “brimming with activity and people doing art classes and all sorts of things.” And after a two-week trial he concluded, “I needn't have worried at all because they were nice, they were kind. They were generous and they were just ordinary people."
But you needed to read 24 paragraphs into the article to find that quote! This is not NEWS!
Rev David Rietveld
Download this week's Newsletter here.