If you resort to abuse, not only will you lose support, you lose the argument

LGBTQ+ are fighting back against years and years of oppression, discrimination and, in some cases,. abuse they’ve faced over the years. Many have been harmed, mostly psychologically and spiritually by religious organisations in Australia – so – called ex – gay therapy is an example. As I’ve written before, LGBTQ+ youth have also been over represented in bullying.  Many have been kicked out of home. Many LGBTQ+ young people have felt stung when their parents tell them that they can’t be a part of their lives anymore because of their faith. The saying “love the sinner, hate the sin”, has just been yet another knives in many LGBTQ+ people’s hearts.  Last year, blogger John Pavlovitz, a Progressive preacher even went as far as to call it a “bastardisation of the gospel”. From all what I’ve read about it, it just another blow to the LGBTQ+ person – a confirmation that they will lose the ones who they love because of their sexuality or gender identity if they are live the way that fits their identity..

Now, many LGBTQ+ people are angry. And they’re no longer holding back.

This is both understandable, but, frankly, not good. Why? Because too many LGBTQ+ people and their supporters resort to abuse. Falsely calling people homophobes, unfairly attacking people of faith, telling people to “shut up” instead of arguing the case with facts, or at least backing up a different viewpoint (e.g. different perspective on religious texts, etc).

Deliberate misrepresentations and arguments like the linking of gays and paedophilia are infuriating. Paedophilia is classed as a Paraphilic Disorder in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM V). In 2013, the APA tried to differentiate between atypical sexual or gender expression behaviours and disordered behavioural patterns. This, for example, lead to change in terms and differentiation. For example, sadomasochism, an act in which people use pain and humiliation in sex play has been differentiated from Sadomasochistic Disorder in which a person’s ability to function is impaired and real harm to the persons involved can be caused. Psychiatric Publishing states:

 Most people with atypical sexual interests do not have a mental disorder. To be diagnosed with a paraphilic disorder, DSM-5 requires that people with these interests:

  • feel personal distress about their interest, not merely distress resulting from society’s disapproval

or

  • have a sexual desire or behaviour that involves another person’s psychological distress, injury or death, or a desire for sexual behaviours involving unwilling persons or persons unable to give legal consent. 

Paeodphiliac Disorder is specifically defined as:

…a paraphilia that involves abnormal interest in children….

Most mental health professionals, however, confine the definition of pedophilia to sexual activity with prepubescent children, who are generally 13 years or younger.

 

The legal age of consent in Australia is between 16 and 18, depending on the State or Territory or, controversially, whether the sex is between people of the opposite sex or same sex. Other Western countries have similar age restrictions. That includes the US – which legalised same – sex marriage last year. In many cases, people more than a few years (about three), years older than the child under the legal age of consent, are able to be charged with statutory rape.And, despite what many Safe – Schools and same – sex marriage critics say, no, Peter Tatchell does NOT support paedophilia, but has argued that the age of consent should be dropped from 16 to 14 (which I personally don’t support).

I could go on with all the slippery slope arguments, but I won’t.

 

Going back to my original point. The more same – sex marriage proponents resort to name – calling or other forms of abuse, the more would – be supporters would back off. Treat opponents or sceptics with much respect as possible – at least let them have their say without being verbally abused.

Same – sex marriage proponents should emulate the tolerance and respect that they themselves say they want. At the very least they should refrain from name – calling and telling people to “shut up”. Otherwise, this battle will be a lost cause.

Will a vote bring the acceptance the LGBTQ+ community want?

Last night on Sydney’s talkback radio station, 2GB, Steve Price and Andrew Bolt talked about the topic that just won’t die… same – sex martiage. This comes after Independent Senator, Nick Xenophon and his party vowed to block the same – sex marriage plebiscite legislation. Now, it’s up to Labor and then time will only tell where the issue goes from there.

Andrew Bolt, a vocal critic… or sceptic (?) of same – sex marriage, is adament that same – sex marriage should be decided by the public, not politicians. Since the success of the ‘Yes’ campaign in Ireland last year, he’s been more adament about the issue going to a public vote. He made one very good – and I think true point- that the LGBTQ+ community really want validation, including for their relationships. He believes that a successful public vote will bring that.

 

I’m usually sceptical of what Bolt says about same – sex marriage, but doesn’t he have a point? Don’t the wider LGBTQ+ community want to know that we are accepted? I knpw I do. In the past, as I have written, that’s been one of my greatest hopes and fears when coming to terms with my own sexuality. That fear was the source of many anxious moments and tears. While I don’t know all the struggles and fears that many young lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans- gender people/ gender diverse people go through, I know it’s painful to even think of having people you care about reject you or hate you. I know what it’s like to hate yourself. It can be terrifying not knowing whether or not you are gay/ lesbian and think ‘what if I am? What next?’

 

I have written before how even symbolic acceptance can be powerful – a small sign that, if you are LGBTQ+, there are people you can be yourself around. If it comes from friends and family, all the better. In the aftermath of the Irish referendum, as Bolt pointed out, it was seen as a huge step torward to, not just same legal rights for same – sex couples, but it was seen as a huge sign to Irish LGBTQ+ people that they are accepted by many in society, despite Ireland’s traditionally Catholic roots. Why can’t that mean the same for LGBTQ+ peoole here… that is providing that the 60% rate in favour of same – sex marriage is correct, I guess.

 

What are your thoughts?

 

Call to journalists and the wider public

Dear journalists across Australia,

Fears among the LGBTQ+ community leading up to the same – sex marriage plebiscite are real. The fear of queer – phobia in general is too often a fear that many, if not most, LGBTQ+ people have faced sometime in their lives. And too often, these fears can be, and often are, confirmed. Please don’t water these concerns and experiences down.

I want to call to journalists: Andrew Bolt, Rita Panahi, Paul Murray, Carrie Bickmore, Steve Price… whoever you are – whoever you work for – if you are a journalist, can you PLEASE call out queer – phobia when you hear/ see it. Can you condemn it as swiftly as a number of journalists called out and condemned the abuse against Adelaide Crow’s player, Eddie Betts last week?

I’m calling on journalists – especially the major metropolitan journalists in Sydney and Melbourne, to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community because I truly believe that anyone with a major public platform can, and often do, have large audiences/ readership that can often take your words to heart. I’m sure that you have LGBTQ+ listeners that would greatly appreciate your ally – ship during the months leading up to the pending plebiscite.

 

An extra call to the wider public – please stand in solidarity with your LGBTQ+ friends and family during these next couple of months. While I agree with a plebiscite, I’m not going to say that these next couple of months will be pain – free for the LGBTQ+ community. Please stand by them. Be a shoulder they can cry on. Confront queer – phobia when you see it or read it on – line. Of course, make that you remain safe. Don’t confront someone if you face the chance of getting physically hurt yourself. Even in those situations, though, please stand by your friends/ family members in the aftermath of such an event if it occurs. Again, be a shoulder to cry on. If you think you can, seek justice for victims of violent queer – phobic attacks. Often though, being there will be enough.

 

I’m sure that having people stand by members of the LGBTQ+ community, that these fears, while still there, will be soothed by knowledge that they have support. It may make all the difference.

 

What needs to be done before same – sex marriage can be legal in Australia?

What must be done for same – sex marriage to be legal in Australia? A plebiscite is almost a given, whether anyone likes it or not (I personally prefer it and have explained what I think the dangers are if there is any more censoring on this (and other), topics). A date isn’t finalised about when it’ll take place – but it’s almost definitely not going to happen this year. The date February 2017 has been thrown around. We’ll have to wait and see.

What DOES need to be thought about is the repercussions. I’m sceptical of the slippery slope argument, so I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about freedoms – freedom of speech and freedom of conscience/ religion. Whether people like to admit it or not, some people do have moral and/ or religious objection to same – sex marriage. Others, like Newscorp columnist/ blogger and TV presenter, Andrew Bolt, has worries about what it’ll do to the institution. As I’ve said before, abusing people with these and other concerns will not win hearts.

I want to talk more in depth about the issues of freedom of speech and freedom of conscience.

Already, in Australia, people are feeling silenced. The latest case that has been used by conservatives is the court case where an employee sued students from Queensland University of Technology in 2013, after comments were made on social media protesting what was deemed “racial segregation” of computer labs. You can read more about the case here.. The election back in June and the rise of conservative minor parties emphasised the fact that people were sick of being muzzled and shouted down if they spoke about their fears surrounding mass migration, political correctness, etc. The Racial Discrimination Act (1975), is under scrutiny yet again, particularly section 18C; where it prohibits offence, humiliation, intimidation and or insulting another person based on race or ethnic background (the section is here.)

 

Back to the issue of same – sex marriage, there has already been tensions that has spilled over when it comes to the feeling of censorship against opponents. Last year, channels 7 and 10 came under fire for refusing to air a televised advertisement from the conservative group Marriage Alliance, a group that questions the impact of same – sex marriage on society, especially children.

More recently, Catholic Archbishop, Julian Porteous was at risk of being sued by a Tasmanian Greens candidate, transwoman, Martine Delaney, after a booklet “Don’t Mess with Marriage’ was distributed in Catholic schools across the country. Delaney feared that the Church’s argument against same – sex parenting was harmful to the LGBTQ community. Early this year, the complaint was withdrawn. Rather than seeing this as a “win” for free speech – and for many, common sense – many conservatives are still concerned that the case against Archbishop Porteous had gone so far. Again, conservatives have felt silenced.

 

Across the world, issues surrounding customer service and a business owner’s right to practice their religious beliefs. and even churches themselves, have also come up on a fairly regular basis. This has gone beyond a pastor/ priest/ other religious leader, the right to refuse to perform same – sex unions in a church. Again, the issue of the right for a person to hold conservative religious beliefs and express them, and anti – discrimination against members of the LGBTQ+ community has come to light. Gay activists have been accused of trying to “shut down” conservative religious leaders, demanding that they don’t say anything against homosexuality. . Is it possible that these are blown out of proportion? Frankly, I think it’s quite possible, (haven’t looked into it deeply, to be honest), but the fact that it’s perceived still, in my view, highlights the fact that conservatives feel like they are being silenced, yet again. I’ve written before, in other parts of the world, particularly Brazil, this perception has become dangerous to the LGBTQ+ community. .

 

Already in Australia, there’s been an uproar against ABCN over scholarships awarded to LGBT students, the “Safe Schools Program” has been proven to be a farcical Socialist manifesto, with parents feeling blindsided about what the program was about and its content (and much of it has been strongly criticised). These things do NOT do the LGBTQ+ community any good! The safest way forward is to let opponents speak. Allow debate.  I don’t deny that offensive and hurtful things are going to be said. Young LGBTQ+ people will need a lot of support through the next couple of months. But stifling back, I fear, is going to prove to be worse for the LGBTQ+ community in the long run.

#PrideGame and the need for explicit statements of acceptance

St. Kilda (Saints) got THUMPED on the weekend 😡😡😡😡. It was by the Sydney Swans, so I guess it’s OK. Swans aren’t too bad. Hey Swans fans 😀.

So, apart from being ANOTHER humiliating defeat for the Saints *sigh*, it was a special round – a Pride Round – an effort by the AFL to proclaim that everyone – including LGBTQ+ fans are welcome to play and watch the game.

This was a long time coming. In 2012, Jason Ball – a former footballer of the Yarra Valley and now Greens candidate – came out as gay. This revelation has sparked discussion on whether LGBTQ+ athletes in general, and AFL players and fans in particular were able to be included in the game and be out about who they are.

The AFL hasn’t escaped controversy when it comes to LGBTQ+ inclusion. In2010 ex – Brisbane Lions and former Western Bulldogs player, Jason Akermanis caused outrage when he said that the AFL “wasn’t ready” for an out gay footbalker and that they should remain in the closet and that other players may feel “uncomfortable” if they knew one of their players were gay. Because of that and other controversies, I can understand why the AFL has different rounds, such as “Pride Round” and “Indigenous Rounds”. I do think it’s a good idea for major sports codes and other significant cultural events to explicitly state that discrimination in ANY form will not be tolerated. I think it’s good for companies, sports codes, etc, to explicitly state whether for not members of the LGBTQ+ community are welcome. The reason why I say that is because a lack of discussion can automatically be interpreted as members of the LGBTQ+ not welcome or, they should shut up about it. And it is often only a matter of time when the truth comes out (no pun intended), or people essentially live a lie and have that eat at them. For younger people who are struggling with their sexuality, silence can exacerbate feelings of shame and the idea that if, heaven forbid, they are found out about, they will lose much of what they hold dear – family, friends, career, etc.

 

I’ll provide a rather personal example. Before the SCOTUS ruling on same – sex marriage across all 50 States last year,  I admit, I was very, very careful about what I posted here in fear of backlash. Seeing a number of my friends add the rainbow flag filter on their profile picture, it was confirmation for me that whatever I posted here, the likelihood of personal ramifications was minimal. After the Orlando shooting, memes assuring that straight people stand besidectge LGBTQ+ community was also comforting.

I NEED to be TOLD that I’m welcome for who I am. I need to be assured thatmy world won’t collapse if I came out to someone. I need to know that there are people I can be myself around. I daresay that LGBTQ+ athletes need the same from their codes. That’s why the Pride Round I believe, was and is needed.

 

ABCN scholarship controversy will backfire on the LGBTQ+ community

Content warning/Trigger warning: homophobia, Orlando massacre (only brief mention)

TV presenter, Sonia Kruger has come under fire again, this time for criticising the Australian Business and Community Network Foundation, (ABCN), for asking about a potential scholarship candidate about their gender identity and whether they identify as LGB. She argues that scholarships should be given based on merit alone and she has labelled e ABCN move as ‘reverse discrimination’. 3AW talkback presenter debated this with former Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs.

When I read about this, I did a little research on ABCN, including the link to the information and application form to be filled out by Principals, not students or their parents. If you look at the form, the first section asks about student’s academic achievement, and the other part focuses on social, personal or economic challenges that the potential applicant faces. The two questions that are causing uproar are:

What is the student’s gender?

Male

Female

Transgender

Prefer not to say

And:

Does the student identify as Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual?

Yes

No

Prefer not to say

 

Now, the other questions in this section of the form goes on to ask about racial identity, Aboriginality/ Torres Strait Islander identity, disability and so on – to indicate what struggles potential recipients face. I get that. What makes everyone gets their knickers in a knot is on the website, the ABCN admit that this year, they are directly targeting to get students who are LGB to apply.

Is this “reverse discrimination” in the legal sense? Well, according to Triggs, no. The Sex Discrimination Act (NSW) 1984, Section 21 does prohibit education providers educators to discriminate against students on the bases of sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, intersex status, etc. The only exceptions (at least in this section) is if a school is specifically aimed at one gender (single – sex school, for instance). Religious institutions, including schools are exempt from anti – discrimination laws surrounding, sexual orientation, gender identity, or pregnancy if it goes against their faith teachings. There seems to be nothing in regard to reverse discrimination (not that I can find – if anyone knows anything that I haven’t found about exemptions, feel free to let me know).

 

Sure, not only LGBTQ students are able to apply for scholarships through ABCN, I still think that the fact that they specifically advertised for any applicant that identifies as LGBT and have those questions on the form is a bad error of judgement and, as I’ve said before on a number of issues, has the potential for backfiring on the LGBTQ+ community.

The fact that the scholarships are aimed at disadvantaged youth is praise – worthy. As I’ve written before, LGBTQ+ youth do face a number of personal issues, such as homelessness, suicide/ self – harm and bullying. But is advertising specifically for LGBT people – or in this case – getting the Principal to disclose LGBT status the way to help the youth?

I’ve also said this before, worldwide, there is a push back against the LGBTQ+ community and their allies where LGBT rights – including same – sex marriage, has been pushed down people’s throats without any chance to argue a differing viewpoint. Since the tragic Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida in June this year, two pastors have been exposed as applauding the shootings against the Latinx/ Latino/ Latina LGBTQ+ community. This was less than a year since the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), ruled that same – sex marriage was to be legal in all 50 states after the Obgerfell vs. Hodges court case.

Brazil is still a hotspot for LGBT – based hate crime, even though same – sex marriage was legal in 2013. In 2014, Conservatives – including anti – gay evangelicals rose to power, creating concern that progress of LGBT rights will backslide. According to Catholic publication, Crux, a study indicated that a slight majority of Brazilians were actually against same – sex marriage.

 

Closer to home, the “anti – bullying” initiative, the Safe Schools Program has proven to be a total debacle, with one of the creators, Roz Ward being exposed as having a socialist ideology and that the program was not to combat bullying, but to push gender – less, anti – Capitalist agenda. Along with other controversies, like the Daily Telegraph accusing Cheltenham Girls’ School in Sydney of banning the term “girls” or “women” and others banning terms like ‘mum” or “dad”. For the record, the Principal at Cheltenham has denied that they enforce a ban on terms like “girls” or “women”, but I think the damage is already done.

This is why I do support a plebiscite on same – sex marriage. People – especially conservatives, are sick of being backed into a corner. Also, would – be supporters of LGBT rights, including supporting same – sex marriage, are getting turned off by the political correctness and the never – ending outrage from the militant same – sex marriage activists. A number of would – be same sex marriage supporters have criticised the reaction over Kruger and other over – reactions toward those who merely question the length that LGBT rights activists are going to – I hate to say it but… provide LGBTQ+ people with “special rights”. People want equality, yes? Well…this isn’t the way to go about it. I truly think it isn’t.

 

All LGBTQ+ people unequivocally deserve safety. The social challenges that face many LGBTQ+ people, especially youth is unacceptable – period. But we need to do this in a way that doesn’t alienate straight people, especially would – be allies. Pushing this, frankly elitist agenda will only drive them away.