Everything wrong with what Jacqui Lambie said on Q&A on Monday night.

Former Tasmanian senator, Jacqui Lambie, expressed her concern on Monday night’s episode of Q&A, for one of Australia’s most marginalised, oppressed and discriminated against minorities.

The LGBTI community bakers

“You still have nearly 40 per cent of Australians out there hurting right now,” Lambie said. “People that have been ringing me that have garden weddings, making cakes… I had a bloke ring me about two weeks ago saying, ‘Jacqui, I want to know what my rights are right now because I only want to marry a man and wife in my garden…’

“If you do not want to marry those people, don’t want to bake a cake for the other side, then you should have that right to do so,” she argued.

When 61.6 per cent of Australian’s voted ‘Yes’ for same-sex marriage in the postal survey, we thought we were voting against the discrimination of people based on their sexuality, but in fact, we were voting for the discrimination of bakers who ought to be free to discriminate against same-sex couples in the name of religious freedom.

Can’t you see?

One might argue that cake probably isn’t the biggest issue facing the LGBTQI community at this moment, but alas, here we go.

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Liberal senator James Paterson drafted a bill following the survey results that listed a number of provisions, including “limited right of conscientious objection” – or in other words, allowing people to refuse to participate in same-sex weddings if that goes against their beliefs.

That would mean the baker, which Lambie is particularly passionate about, would be allowed to turn away a same-sex couple.

Just as an aside, no baker has actually expressed any concern about potentially baking more cakes.  

The Bakers Association of Australia told Elysse Morgan they did not want to be pulled into the debate, and added, “What baker in their right mind would not bake someone a cake?”

The case for bakers or florists or even venues being entitled to religious freedom is logically, ethically and legally flawed.

The Sex Discrimination Act, established in 1984, states that it is unlawful to discriminate on the basis of “age, disability, race, sex, intersex status, gender identity and sexual orientation in certain areas of public life.”

One cannot discriminate in the areas of “provision of goods,” (cake, for example) “services and facilities, accommodation, disposal of land,” and so on.

LISTEN: Does Jacqui Lambie have a point? We discuss on Mamamia Out Loud. 


That is the law.

But just because that’s the way things are, doesn’t mean that’s the way things ought to be, some might argue.

So let’s explore why such a law exists.

There have been a number of times throughout history, when bakers were free to discriminate.

This is what it looked like:

The 1930s in Europe, when Jews were told they were not welcome in ‘Gentile’ shops. 

1930s in Vienna, Austria. Image via Wiki Commons.

In the United States, for most of modern history.

1945 Portland, Oregon. Image via Wiki Commons.
1885, United States. Image via Wiki Commons.

And that worked out just fine, except that it didn't work out fine at all. 

So we - as a human race - learned some lessons.

When a service is made public, whether it be cake-making, floristry, cleaning or venue hire, it must be available to all of the public. It is this principle upon which social cohesion relies.

An intersex atheist cannot refuse to serve a Catholic priest, anymore than a a Muslim shopkeeper can refuse to serve a same-sex couple.

There must be equal treatment when we enter the public sphere or else everything falls to shit. 

Philosopher John Corvino argues that an employer does not get to deprive a woman of maternity leave simply because he might believe a woman's place is in the home.

There are certain choices, particuarly when it comes to the access of goods and services, that are not up to the individual.

And you know who that serves to protect?

Everyone. 

It protects the religious conservative, who has the right to worship whomever god they choose, and wear a hijab or a cross or a kippah or a dastar.

It protects Jacqui Lambie, who can buy a cake from any shop in the country, even though she's a woman who might hold different religious beliefs to the person doing the baking.

But it also protects the gay athiest.

One cannot not happen without the other.

The irony is, the 'Yes' voters and the 'No' voters want precisely the same thing: Freedom from discrimination.

But Greens senator Janet Rice, who argued with Lambie on Monday's Q&A, highlighted the difference perfectly.

"The freedom to not be discriminated against your religion is different to your 'freedom to discriminate' using your religion," she said.

As senator Penny Wong put it in light of the same-sex marriage bill proposed by James Paterson, "I thought we had gone past the point in this country where we had signs that said, 'we don't serve Jews, we don't serve blacks."

LISTEN: Jacqui Lambie speaks to Mia Freedman on No Filter. Post continues below. 

By allowing the bakers, or the florists, or the event planners, to legally discriminate based on an individual's sexual orientation, we would only further persecute one of our most disenfranchised minorities.

If the likes of Lambie are so intent on defending their religious freedoms, then they must also defend one's right to be free from religion. 

They are two sides of the same coin.

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