The controversy over Israel Folau's tweet concerning God's plan for homosexuals has tested the limits of "diversity and inclusion". For many it was a bridge too far. Free speech had become hate speech.
The openly homosexual chief executive of Qantas, Alan Joyce, was deeply offended by Folau's tweet, and threatened to withdraw the airline's sponsorship of Rugby Australia should the offence be repeated. However, Joyce's sensitivities did not prevent him from consummating a commercial relationship between Qantas and Emirates, an airline owned by an Islamic country that imprisons homosexuals.
This inconsistency highlights the problems encountered by corporations when they choose to take a public advocacy role in sexual politics. In recent years, western governments and major corporations have embraced LGBT sexual expression as a human rights issue, and have shaped their public stance accordingly. Yet there remain 2.2 billion Christians in the world, and 1.6 billion Muslims whose holy texts condemn homosexual practice, and it would appear they are not about to revise them any time soon.
That's half the world's population right there.
It would be wrong to suggest there is uniform agreement amongst adherents to both major world religions on the question of homosexuality, however it is true to say the more people take the scriptures seriously the more mainstream Folau's beliefs appear.
Are we about to categorise these Christians, Muslims and Jews as "deplorable" for holding such beliefs, for failing to embrace the cultural zeitgeist?
What is an appropriate response to such people, is public shaming sufficient? Should their employer insist they attend mandatory "diversity and inclusion" training to help them overcome their prejudice and bigotry? Are we about to push people of faith into the same closet homosexuals have recently vacated?
This question is becoming the ultimate test for liberal, pluralistic democracies and those institutions that control the public square. Is there only one official belief that is to be permitted regarding human sexual expression? Must the liberal become illiberal to enforce compliance?
In recent times the chief executive of the tech company Mozilla, Brendan Eich, was forced to resign by his board because he reportedly donated to a traditional marriage lobby group. This action was perceived to be a display of prejudice against homosexuals, and meant that he would be unable to dispassionately treat staff of same sex attraction in the organisation.
Yet nobody questions whether the openly gay chief executive of Apple Corporation, Tim Cook, can fairly treat Christians, Muslims and Jews on his staff. Bigotry apparently is a one-way street, found only amongst the adherents of historical faiths.
As corporates rush to advocate for all things LGBTI they risk demonising a substantial proportion of the population whose views on human sexuality were considered mainstream just a short time ago.
It is important that gay, lesbian and transgendered people can "bring their whole selves to work" every day. However, one of the unintended consequences of corporations like Qantas and our major trading banks advocating for the LGBT lifestyle, is the marginalisation of those who view this as a question of sexual morality. How free are these staff to "bring their whole selves to work every day" when their employer is publically advocating against their strongly held beliefs?
If we wish to retain a truly liberal society, then we should remain free to agree or disagree with Australia's highest paid rugby player, but surely not to threaten his employer with sanctions, or his personal livelihood?
Who of us believes that destroying a rugby player's career a justifiable action when seeking to make a political point? The LGBTI lobby has won the cultural battle, it has achieved normalisation of same sex relationships, it has obtained the right to gay marriage. Perhaps now is the time to be generous in victory.
We were told during the debates leading up to these outcomes, that the only people affected by LGBT marriage would be gay people themselves. Clearly this is proving not to be the case as Brendan Eich and Israel Folau's experience would attest.
Can the proponents of same sex marriage truly claim that "love wins" if it requires the public shaming and marginalisation of those who hold a traditional view on marriage and human sexuality? How we answer these important questions will shape our society in the months and years ahead.
• Brendan McNeill is a Christchurch based company director and a member of his local Anglican church.