The recent NSW decision of Passas v Comensoli  NSWCATAP 298 (18 December 2019) provides an example of someone who has been penalised for “homosexual vilification” as a result of comments concerning same-sex marriage. However, it does provide clarification that merely to express disagreement with the introduction of same sex marriage does not amount to such vilification under NSW law.
An astonishing decision from an Employment Tribunal in the UK has ruled that it is acceptable to dismiss an employee because of their view that sex is biological and immutable (unable to be changed). In a preliminary ruling in Forstater v CGD Europe (18 Dec 2019; Case No 2200909/2019, Employment Judge Tayler) this view was found to be “incompatible with human dignity and [the] fundamental rights of others” (para ), and hence not a protected “belief” for the purposes of a claim of “belief”-based discrimination under the UK Equality Act 2010. While this case is not based on a religious belief, it brings into sharp focus a number of issues connected with religious beliefs and the workplace.
The Commonwealth Government has released a second version of its draft legislation dealing with religious discrimination issues, for further comment before it is formally introduced into the Federal Parliament in the New Year. There are a number of important changes from the previous drafts which in my view make it a much better package of amendments. But there are areas for improvement.
I presented a paper at a continuing legal education seminar entitled “Freedom of Religion vs Freedom of Expression: Critical Legal Issues”. A copy can be downloaded here. And yes, it mentions issues raised by the case of Mr Israel Folau!
Two cases have been highlight overseas recently where a Christian employee has been fired for declining to use the “preferred pronoun” of a person who identifies as a different gender to their biological sex. The cases illustrate that religious freedom, and free speech generally, in the workplace can be under challenge in circumstances involving “gender identity” issues. It is not clear how such cases would be resolved in Australia.