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Religion and sexuality in the workplace

by Youmna El Halabi September 10, 2019
Religion and sexuality in the workplace

Ideally, a person’s qualification for any job would be limited to their aptitude and general attitude towards the workload. In a perfect world, the only thing an employer should consider before hiring you is your ability to do the job.

Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world and we are not perfect people. Against our better judgment, we rely on appearances, religious beliefs, sexuality, and overall social norms to determine a person’s character. As we progress, however, the best of us choose to educate ourselves and overcome social biases. The best of us grow out of superficial moulds and strive to judge by a person’s actions if they should be trusted or not. But that is not the case for most of us.

A few months ago, some would say discriminatory actions were taken in Quebec when the government passed Bill 21; a law reprimanding people for their religious garments in the workplace, under the pretext that it is respecting the province’s laicity.

As if to join hands with their Canadian neighbours, a HuffPost article reports that the Trump Administration is imploring the Supreme Court to legalize firing someone based on their sexual orientation.

“In an amicus brief filed Friday, the US Justice Department argued that a trio of cases set to appear before the Supreme Court this fall should be used to limit Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination because of sex,” the article read.

The Justice Department’s reading of Title VII recalls that “sex,” as written in the Civil Rights Act, is not intended to allude to one’s sexual orientation which, in their book, means that the law shouldn’t be used to protect LGBTQ+ workers.

“The original bill didn’t define “sex” as a term, and the Trump administration is now using that ambiguity to argue that lawmakers’ original intent focused solely on protecting women’s rights,” wrote the HuffPost.

In Quebec, the Montreal Gazette reported that teachers are struggling the most with Bill 21 and are having a hard time transitioning from a tolerant environment to a limited one. It is stated that no articles of faith – kippahs, turbans, or hijabs – are allowed during the hiring process, and those already hired are allegedly not granted higher positions.

Nadia Naqvi, a science teacher at St. Thomas High School in the West Island, recounted to the Gazette how her five-year plan to move into administration now seems like a distant dream.

“I know I have a lot of leadership qualities,” said Naqvi.“I know I have a lot to offer my school board… but I’m stuck. If that’s not the definition of a second-class citizen, I don’t know what is.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t remember anybody’s sexuality, let alone religion get in the way of anyone’s job. In my personal experience, I have seen practicing Muslims during Ramadan work twice as hard as usual; and one could barely feel when they would take a small break for their daily prayers. And since when does being part of the LGBTQ+ community inhibit one from doing their job correctly?

But I can see how loving the same sex, or choosing your own gender could deter you from your workload. Can you imagine how much time, effort, and patience it would take to justify your sexual preferences to other people? And let us not even get into the time-consuming act of debating Islam with people who have taken one sentence from the Quran out of context and made it their weapon of choice when arguing.

But I can totally see how loving the same sex or choosing your own gender deters you from your workload. I mean, can you imagine how much time and effort it would take to justify it to other people, because it’s their business, too? And let us not even get into the time-consuming debate on Islam, at the workplace, with people who have taken one sentence out of the Quran, out of context, and made it their choice of weapon when arguing. Yes, these are most definitely valid reasons.

The way I see it, the only time religion or sexuality disrupts working environments is when other people aren’t minding their own business.

 

Graphic by Victoria Blair

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