just.equal: Folau supporters show double standards in van Diemen row

National LGBTIQ+ advocacy group just.equal are drawing attention to the heated response to a tweet from Victoria’s Deputy Chief Health Officer last week.

just.equal have highlighted that many high profile Australians, including the Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, have condemned Dr Annaliese van Diemen for comparing COVID-19 to the arrival of James Cook in Australia – while they defended Israel Folau’s right to free speech when he spoke out against the LGBTIQ+ community last year.

“Sudden arrival of an invader from another land, decimating populations, creating terror,” Dr van Diemen said in a now-deleted tweet.

“Forces the population to make enormous sacrifices and completely change how they live in order to survive. COVID 19 or Cook 1770?”

The tweet has prompted outrage from conservative commentators, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying van Diemen “should stick to her day job.”

just.equal spokesperson Brian Greig (pictured) said the attack on Dr van Diemen exposed the ‘double standard’ of those who supported Israel Folau last year when he tweeted that LGBTIQ people are bound for Hell.

“When professional rugby player Isreal Folau condemned homosexuals on social media using a biblical argument, despite having no expertise in sexuality or theology, conservatives rushed to his defence. They demanded he should have the right to express whatever religious beliefs he had, and were outraged over his sacking.”

“Now we have a professional medic who has expressed her views on history in social media, and the very same people who defended Folau are condemning van Diemen – calling for her to be sacked.”

“We call on the Prime Minister to explain why he believes that Dr van Diemen should ‘stick to her day job’ and not comment on matters outside her expertise, while at the same time defending Israel Folau who breached his contract with Rugby Australia with public comments outside the terms of his professional employment.”

“This is a clear illustration that many conservatives only support freedom of speech when it aligns with their own views, but don’t when it contradicts or challenges their world view,” Greig said.

Greig added just.equal believe the Federal Government is showing greater respect to religious speech than secular speech.

“While the Prime Minister is keen to pass his Religious Freedom Bill to protect what people of faith say, there is no comparable legislation to protect freedom of speech more broadly.”

“The attacks on Dr van Diemen show the government, and conservatives generally, are far more interested in protecting and defending religious speech than secular speech, and in giving special rights to people of faith.”

Greig said the Religious Freedom Bill drafted by Attorney General Christian Porter was fundamentally flawed and must be scrapped. just.equal is instead calling for a more comprehensive national Charter of Rights, such as exists in Britain and Canada.

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