Jewish And Muslim Leaders Unite To Demand Protection Under Gay Marriage Law

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Joshua Gill Religion Reporter
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Jewish and Islamic leaders have demanded protections for religious officials who refuse to perform gay marriages under Australia’s new same-sex marriage law.

Imams and rabbis from the the city of Perth said that any new law legalizing gay marriage should include express provisions for religious leaders who cannot perform gay marriages due to the tenets of the faiths they follow, according to The West Australian. The religious leaders’ concerns come in the wake of a postal referendum in which 61.6 percent of Australian voters cast ballots in favor of same-sex marriage.

“No priest, imam or other religious minister should be required to perform a religious ceremony that they believe goes against their own religion’s requirements,” Rateb Jneid, head of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, told The West Australian. “This is all that is required under any new legislation and we don’t believe would be controversial in any way.”

Rabbi Dovid Freilich, Perth’s top rabbi, echoed Jneid’s view, adding that faith-based schools should not feel as though they might be prevented from teaching according to the beliefs they uphold, but that they also should not be allowed to discriminate.

“It should not prevent them from teaching the law of the land,” Freilich told The West Australian. “They should learn respect even if it’s not their view.”

Freilich also said that while Jewish teaching precludes sanctioning or performing gay marriage, he does not mind if other Australians approve of gay marriage.

“Whatever the Australian people wanted I will go with,” Freilich said. “If you ask me for my view as a Rabbi the Torah teaches that marriage is between a man and woman, but if a person happens to be gay that’s their business.”

Freilich did not, however, believe that the same protections should be afforded religious business owners who objected to providing services for gay marriages.

“Religion and business is a separate issue,” Freilich said. “If they refuse to serve someone I am afraid that is discrimination.”

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