Be an ally all the time

Rightly or wrongly, the selection of Donald Trump as the President of the United States has sparked fears in many people for the future. Fears are particular.y being felt members of the Hospanic, Latino, black, Muslim and the LGBTQ+ communities. It has sparked the on – line safety pin camapign, which originally appeared in the aftermath of the Brexit vote in the UK, admidst a spike in racially motivated violence. Now the campaign has hit America due to uncertainty about migration, the treatment of Hispanics and Latinos, police brutality toward often unarmed African Americans and racial profiling and fear of    anti – discrimination protections meant to protect the LGBTQ+ community being repealed. Already, there have been reports of people of colour and LGBTQ+ people being physically attacked (Trump supporters have also been physically harmed by alleged Clinton supporters, and that’s disgusting, too).

Not unexpectedly, this campaign has some sceptics and downright critics from conservatives and people of colour and members of the LGBTQ community. Some people of colour and members of the LGBTQ community have labelled it as little more than a way for cis, white and straight people to feel good.

 

I get both sides. I think any sign that shows that a person stands in solidarity with minorities is a good thing. Personally, seeing the pin campaign and other social media trends like the rainbow profile filter after SCOTUS ruling on same – sex marriage and memes expressing solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community after the Orlando Pulse Nightclub massacre in June. These things in themselves aren’t bad. In fact, I found them comforting. It said to me that members of the LGBTQ+ community do have people that care. Personally, it gave me a little assurance that I can be honest on here without the fear losing people I care about (that has been a genuine fear I’ve felt over the years). These fears are starting to subside.

However, any form of allyship – whether toward ethnic minorities or toward the LGBTQ+ community has to be a 24/7 effort. The problem with many social media justice initiatives is that they often die out as quick as they start. It also rarely reflects and examines the scope of a problem. Wearing a safety pin, or changing a profile picture filter, while is most likely coming from a good place, doesn’t substitute real action: criticising racial slurs, actively protesting against racism, working to close disparity between Caucasian and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, condemning homophobia, bi  – phobia, trans – phobia, a- phobia, pan – phobia, etc. It doesn’t replace actually BEING there for LGBTQ+ friends and family members and confronting people who compare gay people to paedophiles (yes, that does happen, especially on social media*). If you call someone out in real life, make sure that every precaution is taken to make yourself safe. Be an ally, not a martyr.

I’m not going to lie, this isn’t always easy nor do we always succeed. Who hasn’t heard a racial slur, and failed to call it out? I think we’ve all been in situations. Don’t beat yourself up about missed opportunities. Just be willing to stamp it out, and, if you can, make a conscious effort to confront it next time.

Here what it comes down to: Affican – Americans, ATSI Australians, Hispanics and Latinos can’t suddenly throw away their racial heritage. It’s with them ALL their lives. People who are LGBTQ+ can’t just shake off their feelings. Very often, the feelings start when a person is young and often carries on all their lives. They don’t get to opt out. Allies, on the other hand, do. The choice is yours. If you genuinely want to be an ally, be one ALL the time, not just when a profile filter pops up or another Twitter hashtag trend appears. Because we’re talking about feal lives, not a simple slogan.

 

What do you wish allies understood? What do you want them to do?

*I just want to point out that the comparing gays to paedophiles has appeared on different Pages. It has nothing to do with anyone who I’m friends with.

 

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.

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.

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.

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.

Orlando Gay Bar Massacre: Denying LGBTQ+ Their Humanity

The aftermath of the Orlando massacre where at least 50 people were gunned down in a gay bar will inevitably bring up two debates – America’s attitude to guns and Islam.

While I’m not denying either, let’s broaden the scope. This was allegedly sparked by the gunman, (who I won’t name. He doesn’t deserve it), seeing two gay people kissing.

In society, young LGBTQ+ couples often express fear about holding their partner’s hand in public. They fear being stared at, or worse. LGBTQ+ people are often dehumanised – being reduced to an ‘act’ or ‘lifestyle’, rather than a red – blooded human being who happens to not (just) love those of the opposite sex.

I was watching BBC/ ABC2 documentary ‘Gay in Pakistan’, where a British – born Muslim went to Pakistan to examine the attitudes toward the LGBT. Technically, homosexuality is criminalised in Pakistan, but, apparently, it’s rarely enforced and prosecuted. That doesn’t mean that LGBT+ are safe. Hate crimes do exist. One thing that stood out to me. Most Muslims (at least that were researched), who condemn homosexuality are ignorant to the science of sexuality. They reduce gay people to the ‘acts’ they supposedly do.

 

That is the problem and it is a problem that happens again, and again and again. Sexual orientation is not about what a person ‘does’. It’s about a nixture of sexual and (usually) romantic attraction (or lack of). It is not an ‘act’. It’s (for the most part), the way people experience love and connection to others.

 

I’m not asking for anyone to change their beliefs in regard to same – sex marriage or same – sex relationships. I want the LGBTQ+ debate to change to acknowledge that we are talking about PEOPLE. Not caricatures. Not stereotypes. Not porn characters, real people. Then, maybe whatchappened in Orlando will at least become rare.

 

To Our Allies – Thank You

In commemoration for IDAHOT (International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia) as someone who identifies as part of the LGBTQ+ spectrum (not everyone agrees that asexuality is a part of it, but I do), I want to say one thing…

THANK YOU.

Thank you to the parents, siblings and other family members who accept their LGBTQ+ family members.

Thank you to all of those on social media who have been vocal in sharing support for LGBTQ+ rights

Thank you to all the teachers and other staff who are dedicated to making schools a safe space for LGBTQ+ students and their families. Thank you for being a soft place to fall when students feel the need to talk honestly about their feelings. Thank you for not judging them.

Thank you to straight allies who have had friends come out and not let them feel like they need to hide.

Thank you to those dedicated to making faith communities safer places for LGBTQ+ people.

Thank you to those who are dedicated to improving the mental health of LGBTQ+ people