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  • Peter Francis Fenwick

Tolerance in a Pluralist Society


I think we should give credit to GetUp! for having the courage to withdraw its support from the petition seeking the deregistration of Dr Pansy Lai for her views on same sex marriage.

The issue at stake here is tolerance in a pluralist society.

I am confident that our society will be able tolerate loving relationships between homosexuals being called marriage.

At the same time, we must respect the rights of those who hold a traditional view of marriage. It would be intolerable to deny them the right to practice medicine, or law, or teaching because of their views.

Formerly, many societies shared common cultural and religious beliefs. Nowadays most societies are pluralist. The political culture of such democratic societies is marked by a diversity of opposing and irreconcilable religious, philosophical and moral disciplines. It is important to realise and accept that such views can be reasonably held. Consequently, there is a need to embrace often conflicting values. We need to tolerate others' views even if we do not agree with them.

Also, we need to avoid inflicting our views on others. If we wish to change others’ views it should be done by persuasion, not coercion.


Dr Pansy Lai appeared in an advertisement promoting the “No” case in the same sex marriage debate. Subsequently a petition on GetUp! called for her to be deregistered as a medical practitioner. It received over 6000 supporters. Following criticism in the media, GetUp! removed it.

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