For many decades, the public swimming pool has been a great Australian institution: affordable, open and full of people mixing together, regardless of their background, race and religion.
Now, this tradition is under threat.
Cumberland Council in Western Sydney has introduced segregation at Auburn pool, erecting a curtained partition to allow Muslim women to swim in private.
Islamic women are on one side of the curtain, the rest of the community on the other.
This is local government Sharia Law: changing the rules at Auburn pool to enforce the teachings of the Koran – that Islamic women should not show bare flesh to men.
For non-Muslim men, the discrimination is twofold: they pay their Council rates, they pay at the pool entry point, but they can’t access the entire pool facility.
Public services must be available to all the public.
If Muslim women have modesty issues, they should take personal responsibility by wearing a burkini.
Segregation is not the answer.
Where does it end: putting curtains up on Bondi Beach?
If multiculturalism in Australia is to succeed, people must mix together, getting to know each other, without religious or racial boundaries.
In these troubled times, we need Islamic communities to be integrated into Australian society and culture, not segregated along religious lines.
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