Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Religious discrimination--an open letter to VicRoads

Dear Vicroads,

Today I had a fairly offensive and traumatic experience at your Carlton location on Lygon Street in Melbourne. I had checked beforehand and it says on your website that religious headgear IS allowed in license photos.

I wished to wear my religious headgear which easily met the requirements outlined on your website ( https://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/licences/evidence-of-identity/licence-photo-requirements ). I explained to 3 different staff members that I was a Pastafarian. 2 of your staff members openly told me that my religion was not real, and not recognised by VicRoads. The manager, Melissa, stated that she was not allowed to discuss the matter, but had been told that I was not allowed to wear my religious headgear in the photo. When I asked her, however, if she would be okay if one of her staff members refused to take the photo with a Sikh or Muslim individual, she said certainly not, that indeed she would require her staff members to take the photo of such an individual with their religious headgear.

In light of all the above, I have a few questions.

1. Can you please clearly outline what the official and public VicRoads policy is regarding religious headgear in license photos?

2. Is it indeed the official policy of VicRoads to allow the headgear of certain religions in license photos, but not of other religions, as I was clearly told by 3 different employees at your Carlton location?

3. If that is the policy, is it a policy of only allowing religious headgear from certain specified religions? Or is it a policy of specifically excluding the religious headgear of certain religions? That is, when the employee at the license renewal location decides whether or not to allow a particular piece of religious headwear, are they intended to be deciding whether the headgear meets a list of requirements for inclusion, or are they intended to be deciding whether it meets a list of requirements for exclusion?

4. Is it the official policy of Vicroads for your employees to be telling individual of minority religions like mine that our religion is "not real"? Do you agree that that this is a profoundly offensive thing for your employees to say to a customer? If so, what steps has VicRoads taken, and what steps will you take in the future, to train your employees not to say such profoundly rude and offensive things to members of minority religions?

5. What further steps I can take towards being allowed to wear my religious headgear in my license photo?

Finally, if indeed it IS your position that Pastafarianism is not real, I would like to say that I'm happy to provide reams of evidence that my religion is real and that my religious beliefs are sincerely held. There are literally millions of Pastafarians in the world, and yes, while obviously we don't have the numbers of the really big religions like Christianity and Islam, that doesn't make us any less real. Pastafarians have done really amazing things to make the world a better place. For instance, We are the number two lending team among religions on Kiva, an organisation that helps individuals provide micro-loans for people in the developing world which has had a profound and lasting impact for good on many many lives. See http://www.kiva.org/teams?category=Religious+Congregations. I look forward to your timely and clear response.

Best regards,
Benjamin Ady
Thornbury, Victoria.

23 comments:

  1. Hi, I represent the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster Australia (CFSMA) and we would like to offer our support and assistance to you. We can be contacted at pastafarians.org.au or churchoftheFSMAustralia(at)gmail.com. R'amen! Captain Tanya Watkins

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  2. This is blatant religious discrimination. Either no religious headwear is allowed, or it is all allowed. You can't pick and choose whose beliefs you accomodate. The oppression here is palpable; who is Vicroads to decide what religions they accommodate and which they don't? All or none.

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  3. Hi Banjamin. The actions of these VicRoads representatives are disgraceful. Your religion - and your religious headgear - are *EVERY BIT* as valid and sacred as any other religion/religious headwear. We support your battle for fair and equal treatment by this renegade government organisation. Very un-Australian, VicRoads! For shame!

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  4. Either you can or you can't! There is no in between without adding a personal opinion into the equation. That is absolutely unacceptable!
    We are Pastafarian! The FSM has touched us and all of mankind. Let it into your heart and feel it's noodly presence.
    My beliefs are so strongly held that I have devoted my life to the noodly one. I am a minister of the church and I read the Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster each day.
    Sauce be upon you.

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  6. http://www.humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au/index.php/types-of-discrimination/religious-belief-or-activity

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  7. I'm personally disgusted by the way in which this was handled by VicRoads. Pastafarianism is as legitimate as any other religion and for that reason it would logically follow that a devout Pastafarian may retain his constitutional right to express his/her beliefs. This is profoundly discriminatory and frankly morally objectionable. I hope this is resolved and Pastafarians all over Victoria and Australia are treated on equal terms as those of other faiths.

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  8. You absolutely should be able to wear your colander. As a previous poster said, either all headgear is allowed or none should be. I hope you are triumphant in your effort to represent His Noodliness.

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  9. The Newcastle Appendage of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster supports your efforts to affirm your rights to equal treatment. What enables these petty bureaucrats to act as experts in world faiths? Wear your colander proudly. Ra amen.

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  10. You absolutely should be able to wear your colander. As a previous poster said, either all headgear is allowed or none should be. I hope you are triumphant in your effort to represent His Noodliness.

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  11. My imaginary god of choice is just as real and as valid as their imaginary god of choice !

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  13. I thought you may also like to see all the support you are getting on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/groups/181753425298669/permalink/658930340914306 and https://www.facebook.com/thechurchoftheflyingspaghettimonsteraustralia/posts/973411509371603 R'amen!

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  14. Take it up with Human Rights. VicRoads may not even answer. The same needs to be done here in SA. What's ridiculous is that unlike other religions, we actually have evidence of his existence in the form of pasta. One of the more verifiable religions and people have the nerve to say the FSM doesn't exist?

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  15. The Queensland Appendage of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (Australia) is right behind you. How dare they discriminate against your religion just because they don't really know much about it. The Flying Spaghetti Monster is absolutely as real as the Christian, Islamic, Sikh, Hindu (and the list goes on...) gods.

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  16. The Queensland Appendage of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (Australia) is right behind you. How dare they discriminate against your religion just because they don't really know much about it. The Flying Spaghetti Monster is absolutely as real as the Christian, Islamic, Sikh, Hindu (and the list goes on...) gods.

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  17. We in Canada fully support the rights of all religions, no matter how small or insignificant to wear their identifying garments in official photographs.

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  18. I've had interesting legal 'encounters' with Vicroads and their overly conservative licencing department, including court appearances over their refusal to issue a licence that accurately showed my details ( similar to your case )
    If this needs to go further, i can provide anecdotal, uneducated, unqualified legal opinion..

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  19. Here in Canada I was also denied the right to wear Pastafarian head gear and had to go to court. I won the right to wear muslim pirate headgear but not christian, jewish or pastafarian pirate head gear. May the Sauce be with you!

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  20. I'll be renewing my license here in SA in a couple of years time and as a Pastafarian minister I expect to be able to wear my religious head wear. I am aware that SA fire-arms licenses have been issued (at least one anyway) that have allowed this.

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