Errol Naidoo: remove religion as example of unfair discrimination from the Constitution

Errol Naidoo’s latest Family Policy Institute newsletter indicates quite a remarkable change of mind, at least if I’m correctly reading between the lines. In one section of it, he appears to be arguing that religion should not merit any special protection from discrimination under South Africa’s Bill of Rights. Here’s (part of) what he has to say:

There is a proposal to remove the ‘sexual orientation’ clause in the Constitution. This clause in the Bill of Rights serves only to provide homosexuals the power to demand special rights.

Homosexuals are protected as human beings in the Constitution like every other citizen. The sexual orientation clause provides special protections and privileges for their sexual preference and more importantly, provides legal sanction to penalise anyone who disagree with their lifestyle.

The clause in question (9.3) reads as follows:

The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.

So, following Naidoo’s logic, if the “sexual orientation” clause only exists to “provide homosexuals the power to demand special rights”, it’s surely also the case that this is true for the “religion” clause (and all the others), and he’d have section 9.3 read something like “The state may not unfairly discriminate directly of indirectly against anyone”.

This might be the first, and only, time that I can say he’s on to something which isn’t completely crazy…

By Jacques Rousseau

Jacques Rousseau teaches critical thinking and ethics at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and is the founder and director of the Free Society Institute, a non-profit organisation promoting secular humanism and scientific reasoning.