Thank you everyone, for you responses
That said, I absolutely agree with what @Ceisiwr says:
Trying to use anti-discrimination laws in a secular country to ban gender discrimination for religious orgs is a recipe for disaster…. I really cannot think of any way to sugarcoat it. If you’re going to ban religious orgs from gender discrimination, why stop there? Why not also apply laws that ban religious discrimination to religious orgs — in which case religious orgs basically could no longer exist! Or what about laws that forbid discrimination by marital status…. poof! There goes celibacy requirement from the Vinaya. Maybe Meiji Japan was right after all
The situation in Thailand is different because it’s not truly a secular country. The Sangha Supreme Council has official government sanction (at least that’s my understanding). So you could make an argument that they should not be legally allowed to forbid Bhikkhuni ordination, since they have a state monopoly, of sorts. But even then, I’m not sure. Thailand, does, after all, have male-only conscription, so it sounds like there are loopholes even in Thai gender discrimination laws (this is true with a lot of countries, of course). Really, I don’t know about Thai law to discuss this issue further….you’d have to ask a Thai legal expert.
No, that is not a good comparison at all. The government in secular nations like the USA (probably Australia, too, I’m assuming) is neutral on religious matters. If a religious org wants to ban Bhikkhunis, fine. If it wants to allow them, fine. If a religious org wants to not only allow Bhikkhuni ordination but also ban people who oppose Bhikkhuni ordination from joining, that’s also fine. It doesn’t matter what decision Buddhist orgs makes on the Bhikkhuni question, they are all treated the same under the law. There is simply no government agency who is empowered to make decisions for ANY religion. The Thai Sangha supreme council, by contrast, is legally sanctioned to put its thumb on the scales…and it’s decided to do so against Bhikkhunis. It’s this “thumb on the scales” against nuns that might fairly be characterized as illegal discrimination (though, like I said before, I don’t know enough about the intricacies of Thai law to feel confident in that verdict).
Seriously, folks, let’s not let our enthusiasm for women’s rights (or LGBT rights, or whatever else) lead us into a leftist version of authoritarianism. And I’m saying this as someone who is both gay and female….someone not exactly (ahem) privileged by traditional religious structures.