Dear same – sex marriage supporters, hate will not help your cause

The Equal Marriage Rights Australia page on Facebook too often resorts to nastiness, especially against those who are publicly or otherwise against same – sex marriage. I saw an example of it today.

This is NOT how to win a debate – or hearts on an issue that most people have strong views about. Resorting to abusive tactics you claim to condemn, frankly, are more likely to scare people away from supporting the cause. In one of his articles, ‘The Spectator’ columnist Rowan Dean has expressed just that. A commenter on Mamamia’s Facebook page expressed the same on a story about a same – sex wedding in Brazil.

I get the anger and the frustration. I understand, at least in part, of the inner struggles and fears faced by the LGBTQ+ community when contemplating whether or not to come out to friends and family. I have written tirelessly about the issues that the wider LGBTQ+ community face. I know that members of the LGBTQ+ community have been harrassed, bullied, been kicked out of home, been rejected or betrayed by members of faith communities, have been at risk or, been victims of physical and/ or sexual violence. That’s why the LGBTQ+ community need our allies. We need people to support us.

 

Whether people like it or not, a plebiscite on the issue is most likely going to happen either late this year or next year here in Australia. Currently, according to Nine, a recent poll indicates that nearly 60% of people support same – sex marriage, while 37% oppose. A number of other polls raise similar figures. Due to conservative views that a number of Australians hold, I wouldn’t be surprised if the pro side was even a little bit less. That’s why if we want same – sex marriage to be legalised in Australia, we can’t afford to lose supporters. But we will, if we don’t stop demonising opponents, and, in turn, shrinking tge support base further.

 

Last year, Newscorp columnist, Andrew Bolt pleaded for same – sex marriage propnents to show ‘love’ to conservatives, when he admitted that it was most likely that the same – sex marriage was likely to haplen soon. I don’t agree with his argument on same – sex marriage, but on that point he’s right. Antagonism will only drive people away. To rephrase the hashtag that lit up on Twitter and Facebook in the aftermath of the Obgerfell vs. Hodges case that led to the historic SCOTUS ruling, making same – sex marriage law nationwide in 2015 – love won’t win – if it results in further division.

What should we tolerate in the name of free speech?

A topic dominating the media in Australia is free speech and anti – discrimination laws, both when talking about multiculturalism and the same – sex marriage plebiscite. Currently in Australia, there are a number of laws in each State and Territory protecting people on the basis of characteristics, such as race, sexuality, gender, carer status, relationship status and other grounds (Racial Discrimination Act (1975), the Anti – Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW) 1977, the Sex Discrimination Act 1984, among others.The Anti – Discrimination Act and Sex Discrimination Act in NSW, currently prohibit discrimination, harrassment, villification, etc on the gay and transgender community. Tasmania’s anti – discrimination also protects LGBT people from discrimination from public services and employment against the LGBTQ+ community.

Due to issues surrounding multiculturalism, the fear of radical Islam and the dropped case against Archbishop Julian Porteous last year and other events, anti – dupiscrimination laws have come under increased scrutiny. In light of the case against Archbishop Porteous, there have been calls from the Australian Christian Lobby to have anti – discrimination laws that protect the LGBTQ community to be scaled back while the plebiscite debate is underway. Columnist for the Australian, Sharri Markson has publicly condemned the plebiscite, arguing that it was giving a license to spread homophobia.

 

If you asked me ten years ago about this, I admit I would have said unequivocally that under NO circumstances should anti – discrimination laws – including those that protect the LGBT community should EVER be scaled back and NO ONE should EVER be exempt from such laws.

Now?

I’m kind of torn. As a GSM (gender/ sexuality minority) and someone with a disability, I would love it if minorities didn’t had to feel attacked, and, to be honest, I wish the lives of LGBTQ+ people weren’t up for such fierce, and, quite frankly, sometimes hurtful ‘debate’.

However, silencing debate – especially on controversial issues, such as same – sex marriage, I fear, will only backfire. It won’t stop opponents of the LGBTQ community, it will only make some of them bite back even harder. Frankly, I think it’s happened in countries, especially the US, where conservatives felt like the SCOTUS ruling on same – sex marriage in 2015, have bitten back with a vengeance – one notable example is Arizona pastor who said he ‘wasn’t sad’ about what happened in Orlando. There has reportedky been backlash with PayPal, Apple and YouTube cancelling his acounts (YouTube must’ve backtracked because his videos can still be seen on the site – including the one about Orlando.

I’m not saying that the above (and extreme) example is right, or that it is a view shared by most opponents of same – sex marriage. What I’m wondering is whether it’s helpful for the LGBTQ+ if such people like Anderson, or even less extreme examples are silenced by the law.

Should we tolerate such views in a democracy? Can we fight back without relying on the law to help us? And, how much should us in the LGBTQ+ community simply… I guess… tolerate?

What are your thoughts?

 

Why do we constantly confuse sex with gender?

CW: brief mention of suicide ideation. 

I was a little disappointed with former Labor Aboriginal Adviser, Warren Mundine on “The Bolt Report” last night, when he said, I thought quite flippantly, that in his day there was only two genders; male and female. I thought he may have been a bit more understanding of people who have been historically and, often, still continue to be marginalised. It did, however, make me realise something – that many people –  either accidentally or deliberately –  confuse sex with gender.

There are two SEXES, (not including intersex). There is male and female, XX and XY (again, not including intersex and other chromosomal conditions). That does not mean that everyone strictly identifies with either. I believe as cis – gender people, like myself, don’t have a right to tell non – cis gender people how they should identify or that gender identity is ‘simple”. It isn’t the case for everyone. Has anyone thought that many non – cis – gender people have tried telling themselves to be what sex they were born as, only to fall into depression and suicide ideation? Former Australian Defence Force Colonel, 2012 Order of Australia recipient and transwoman, Catherine Mcgregor has been very frank about her own personal struggles with her gender identity to the point where, before her transition, she was planning to take her own life. For some, transitioning and identifying as the opposite sex isn’t the answer either.

 

A genderqueer activist on the LGBTQ+ Christian website, Believe Out Loud, used the analogy of computer coding and explained that the digits are coded either 0 or 1 for a software to carry out certain tasks (downloading, uploading a photo on Instagram, etc). The writer went on to say that gender and sexuality in humans isn’t always so straight forward. About the whole, “in my day there were only two genders”? In 2013, creator and star of the hit musical,”The Rocky Horror Picture Show’, Richard O’Brien, told the BBC that he identifies as “70% man”.  and admitted to taking female hormone, although not surgery. The article goes on to explain briefly some findings that has come out of recent research about gender identity, what’s believed to determine it and how in some people, it, like sexuality, can be fluid.

 

Why is this important? Because transgender – identified people are still a heavily marginalised group all over the world. Transgender suicide rate in the West,is believed to be at 41% according to American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The overall American rate is 6.4%. I truly believe that one of the main ways to combat this is if we get real about what transgender people experience and stop treating them as a joke. Because the marginalisation of transgender people, like any other group, it not a laughing matter.