We live in an age of rampant hypocrisy. Rich suits in their private old man clubs receive exemptions from anti-discrimination laws and are free to exclude women, but a woman who wants to run a travel business that excludes men from group trips is banned from doing so. Some forms of sexism are apparently better than others.
In the aftermath of the terrible death of Dianne Brimble, cruise ship operators are trying to be more socially responsible and want to end the bogan drug fueled gang bang culture that seems to prevail amongst some of their customers. But when they try to stop schoolies from booking trips because they are a liability due to their stupid drunken behaviour, they are not allowed to. A belated sense of social responsibility should be encouraged, but in this case harm reduction is less important than the freedom to be a moron.
The Victorian government provides funding for a religious conference but refuses funding for an atheist conference. So far this situation has not been tested by the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. Does the Victorian government have the right to discriminate against non believers?
No individual needs the services of businesses or (unless they are own shares in them) can demonstrate a sense of ownership over them, and so they cannot expect to influence their behaviour or business models. If one club or travel provider won’t let you in, try another. End of story. They lose your money and suffer the consequences of the public reaction if their behaviour is considered discriminatory.
The difference between private businesses and the government is that we, as citizens and taxpayers, appoint the government to represent us, and we have a direct interest in and ownership of their decisions, particularly when it comes to spending our money collected as taxes. We supposedly live in a secular state, but when religions receive government funding, tax exemptions and other favourable treatment and atheists do not something is fundamentally wrong.