I know, as a liberal, that I am supposed to be infuriated by the Quebec Values charter. I am supposed to be incensed that people’s religious rights are being impinged upon. I should worried that Quebec is a the top of a slippery slope which leads to attacks against religious rights.
I should be feeling that way but, in truth, I am not that revved up about it.
In the last months, I have read stories about:
- people of, to me, unknown religions asking to be separated from the female students in their courses
- gays being arrested in Nigeria
- people protesting to move the upcoming Olympic games from Sochi due to Russian laws about gays
- laws making gay activity illegal in parts of Africa and Asia
- honor killings of women
These are just the tip of the iceberg and does not even begin to address legislative and social discrimination against sexual orientation and religion which seem to be expanding across a large part of the world. This discrimination seem to emerge in countries that are easily identified as religious (primarily Islamic and Christian).
I understand that I am supposed to respect the religious and cultural tenets of my fellow human beings. But I don’t. I don’t respect cultural mores which consider women chattel. I don’t respect religious ideas that do not allow disagreement. I do not respect any call for tolerance which includes the requirement to not disrespect the religion’s originator.
Even as I do not respect these ideas and beliefs, I would fight for the right of anyone to believe as they would, in the privacy of their home or place or worship. That said, in the general population, I am coming to believe that we need to consider that the freedom of religious practice is much less important than the promotion of our social rights (i.e. the equality of women).
I don’t begrudge women from wearing wigs or headscarves or even full body coverings. I don’t begrudge men from wearing hats or turbans. Far be it from me to tell anyone what to wear. I don’t begrudge people from practicing their religions. I don’t begrudge people from believing what they want. I believe this should be a right.
What I begin to believe is that their may be a place for a hierarchy of rights, with religious ones being on a lower rung than others. While the Quebec charter may be a clumsy start, there may be something to it.