Religious exemptions is a must

According to LGBTQ publication, SameSame, there is a “Plan B” on legalising same – sex marriage in Australia… well, in theory, anyway. Openly gay Coalition MP, Tim Wilson has met with founder of marriage rights activists group, just.equal Ivan Hinton – Teoh to discuss the plan. There is a mood that same – sex marriage should become legal in this term of Parliament, as it’s a debate that’s not going to go away, and provide religious – based exemptions in anti – discrimination law. Wilson has vehemently denied this exemption will be extended to businesses, like bakers (that’s where a lot of trouble has been in the US), but rather it would allow people with convictions that marriage should be between a man and a woman to be able to state it without prosecution.

I think it’s reasonable.

I have expressed fear about how this may turn out multiple times. After the Kim Davis case in Kentucky, multiple court cases, and, most scarily, preachers praising the Orlando massacre in June, my fears haven’t died down. This is why I initially agreed with a plebiscite – to give everyone a chance to have a say, get whatever they needed off their chest, and, if it passed, then at least opponents couldn’t say they’d been ambushed with it. However, like so many others, I got suspicious when I realised the process, the fact that it wasn’t binding, and how there was no real discussion on the mental health of LGBTQ people until MP Warren Entsch brought it up. I firmly believe that this should’ve been a serious consideration for both parties from the start – and by serious considerations, I’m not including the blackmail that Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten tried to use when he used teen suicide and a young teenage boy being raised by a same – sex couple as a political pawn. Why were Labor too eager to bow down to the conservatives while they were in power and openly supported the plebiscite initially? Both parties have treated the LGBTQ+ community as pawn, and neither side has given a damn about the impact. While they may applaud themselves, I put members of the Coalition in that camp because of how they tried to push this, without any protections toward the LGBTQ+ community. They said they’d advertise both sides, without any concern how it’d affect LGBTQ youth and families. The talk about mental health, brought on about Entsch, was too little, too late.

 

Back to the marriage versus conservative debate. I guess with the lack of exemptions for businesses, I guess Australia doesn’t have the constitutional clashes the Americans have and  hold so dear (i.e. the freedom of religion and speech vs. the rights of same – sex couples). So, maybe the backlash against the LGBTQ community may not be so major… or at least people won’t have a leg to stand on. The thing is though, I don’t want anyone – regardless on their views on marriage – to get hurt. I don’t want my LGBTQ+ friends and family members to get hurt. I want everyone to be safe, happy and live without fear. If same – sex marriage does become legal, but there is a backlash against the LGBTQ community, is it really a victory?

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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.

 

Marriage debate – yes, it does effect the LGBT community

Note: some of the content of this post may be distressing and triggering for some readers. 

Even though the plebiscite is dead at the moment (been voted down the second time), it hasn’t stopped the debate – or, frankly, the hostility. The Facebook post below from Sky’s “Paul Murray Live” shows a short story about the plebiscite being voted down in Parliament on Monday for the second time. The next step is anyone’s guess. Some people, like Senator David Lyonhjelm thinks it’s either the plebiscite or nothing, (more on him in a second).

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FPaulMurrayLIVE%2Fposts%2F1476688602360104&width=500

 

Now, same – marriage sceptics or outright opponents, as well as some proponents, argue that we should be able to “debate” this issue. Senator for the Liberal Democrats, David LeyonheljmSamneS, made a speech addressing Parliament on the plebiscite. He himself is a supporter of same – sex marriage, but also supports a plebiscite, unlike most LGBTQ+ people and their allies, according to Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).

Yesterday, Melbourne’s the “Herald Sun” printed an edit of Leyonheljm’s speech, encouraging a vote for the passing of legislation on the plebiscite. Some things he said, that was also printed in the Herald Sun were controversial.

Your (Labor, Greens and other opponents of the plebiscite) suggestion that an acrimonious debate will prompt suicides and other mental health issues in the LGBTI community is obnoxious. These are normal people, not mentally fragile little daffodils affronted by name calling.

This little paragraph alone is, quite frankly problematic on so many levels. While the LGBTQ+ community can’t be all lumped in together in regard to vies on same – sex marriage or mental strength, mental health organisations such asSuicide Prevention, Black Dog Institute and Beyond Blue acknowledge that the LGBTQ+ community are at risk when it comes to mental health issues, especially when facing homophobic, bi – phobic and trans – phobic bullying and violence.

 

Also, I think that this so – called “debate” has gone beyond a bit heated. I was appalled at some of the comments in the comments under the Facebook post above. Throwing false slippery slope arguments that same – sex marriage will lead to the acceptance of paedophilia or that gays are paedophiles, a claim that’s COMPLETELY false!!!! Regardless of your view on homosexuality or same – sex marriage ANY PAEDOPHILE WHO IS ACTING OUT THEIR SEXUAL DESIRES IS COMMITTING RAPE!!! Everyone get that?! Rape!!! All States and Territories in Australia and the Western world have age limits to when a person can engage in consensual sexual activity. In the U.S, who made same – sex marriage law nation wide last year, according to “Age of Consent (US), the age restrictions are between 16 to 18 across the country.  In England and Wales – countries that legalised same – sex marriage in 2014, have a minimum age of consent at 16. This goes across the board, regardless of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Holland, the first country in the world to legalise same – sex marriage in the world has less straightforward laws. According to “Netherlands – Age of Consent”, the legal age of sexual contact is 16. However, if a person 12 or over agrees to have sex and no complaint is made by parents, then no prosecution will occur.

 

Also, the “debate’ has seen threats of violence toward LGBTQ organisations, despite what some would like to believe. In September, Melbourne LGBT radio station, JOY 94.9 FM had to be evacuated after a bomb threat was made against staff via e – mail. This got almost buckley’s coverage in the mainstream media. The first place I read about it was on Facebook. No hate speech from the “no” side? Yeah right! It hasn’t all been one way, but the fact that this got a little but not a lot of attention is despicable.

A part from that, I truly believe the well – being of the LGBTQ+ community should be (and should’ve been from the start), taken into consideration and not mocked. And, no, it’s not enough for a journalist to just cite the Lifeline number of feature it for ten seconds at a bottom of a screen. Think about what you are saying! Realise that this issue does affect people. Not everyone can brush off hurtful or downright hateful comments, unlike what Leyonheljm or conservatives would like to suggest.

You want a debate, then fine. BUT it’s not without consequences. Lives are affected. And let’s condemn abuse! 

 

If this post has brought up any issues for you contact:

Lifelline: 13 11 14

QLife: ask@qlife.org.au or 1800 184 527 3 p.m. onward every day

For those under 25: Headspace:  on – line or by phone: 1800 650 890

If you need help, please, please get it.

 

 

For those who need help…

I have written extensively about LGBTQ+ politics over the last few months. Yet, me banging on about such things and asking questions can only do so much. I think this tweet from LGBT Shrink is what some people, both LGBTQ+ and cis – het need to know:

Sometimes, it’s hard, but I hope you all get and believe this.

If you’re in Australia and need help for anything you can contact:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond BlueHeadspace (for those under 25)

Here is a list of mental health services across Australia (some are for specific age groups, including young children/ infants).

Would quotas in politics benefit the LGBTQ+ community?

I heard on Sky’s “Paul Murray Live” on Monday that the Queensland Labor government is starting to talk about quotas in government for the LGBTQ+ community. In other words, having parliamentarians/ Senators employed because of the fact they identify as LGBTQ+. I have had two thoughts about this. At first, I thought that it may be beneficial to members of the LGBTQ+ community at least in some areas.Having an LGBTQ+ Senator may be able to directly address issues facing the LGBTQ+ community and implement policies that make LGBTQ+ Australians safe, healthy and productive members of society. They may be able to give insight into issues directly affecting the LGBTQ+ community in Australia. For example, according to Australian Human Rights’ “Face the Facts”  fact sheet (2014), 34% reported hiding their sexuality and/ or gender identity from their doctor. The study showed that, as of 2014, homophobia was still a major issue. The study found out:

  • 6 in 10 had experienced verbal homophobic attacks
  • A fifth (20%) had experienced physical homophobic attacks
  • Another 1 in 10 (10%) experienced other types of homophobia

 

LGBTQ and mental health

According to other sources, such as Beyond Blue indicate that bisexual women especially, suffer higher rates of depression and anxiety than lesbian or gay individuals. Transgender people, however, face the highest rates of depression and anxiety at over 50% – especially trans – women.

So, how can an LGBTQ+ senator help with this on a State level? Could they point out where more resources and services are needed to assist LGBTQ+ Australians? What about on issues such as marriage equality, medical services for transgender and/ or intersex people? The fact of the matter is, as much people are tired about hearing and talking about LGBTQ+ issues, sorry, but we’re here. We are your brothers, sisters, siblings, aunts, uncles, work colleagues and classmates. As indicated in the link from the Australian Human Rights Commission, homophobia was still a major issue as recently as 2014. Too many LGBTQ+ hide in fear of being rejected (as indicated again, by the link above).

The problem with tokenism

However, I believe there are some potential downsides. First, in my opinion, governments employing someone because they represent a certain group hasn’t worked in the past. For example, former Julia Gillard appointing former athlete Nova Peris in a bid for the sake of employing an Aboriginal person only ended in tears… literally. Peris ended up bowing out last year before her term was up.

This was a long line of ugly so – called “identity politics” that is still raging in Australia today. It also shows that tokenism should be avoided by everyone. I don’t think tokenism does anyone any good, including the people they are suppose to represent. Gillard’s tokenism only exacerbated Labor’s unpopularity at the time and also did not assist the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, as far as I know. So, I think there’s a chance that if, an LGBTQ+ person was elected or appointed by a politician because of their sexuality/ intersex status or gender identity, it may only add to the groan factor  across the country, rather than being of any benefit to the LGBTQ+ community.

 

My conclusion is that merit, not quotas should be a reason why someone is elected to State or Federal parliament. I think anything other than that will not do anyone – including the LGBTQ+ community any good in the long run.

 

What do you think about my assessment of quotas in parliament to add more LGBTQ+ people? Do you agree or disagree? Let me know what you think in the comments below. 

Asexuality Resources

In the wake of Asexuality Awareness Week and a comment someone posted on one of my blog posts, I thought I’d create a non – extensive resources list on where people can go to find information on asexuality. Here goes:

Websites/ Forums

Asexuality Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) – a forum and information resource on asexuality – includes FAQ for both those who suspect they are asexual and those who have asexual friends/ family/ partners

Asexual Archive – a collections of posts/ articles that offers information about asexuality and support for members of the asexual community

Books (available both in hardback and electronic)

The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality – Julie Sondra Decker (2013) – this book on asexuality is also available in iTunes, (I know because I’ve got it). This book is very good. It goes through what asexuality is, research conducted by Canadian researcher Anthony Bogaert, social and legal issues faced by asexual people in the U.S. as of 2013 (things may have changed since then). Overall, it’s a good book. It’s simple to understand, but also quite extensive.

Understanding Asexuality – Anthony Bogaert – I’ve never actually read this book, but giving it’s by one of the original researchers into asexuality, I can’t see how it can be that bad. More updated information may be available that isn’t included in this book.

Articles/ News Items

The media is starting to catch up when it comes to the existence of asexuality. I’ve seen and read a number of news items over the years that have talked about asexuality and most of them have been quite good.

Ravishly – What IS asexuality anyway? 27/10/2016

Debunking 5 Common Everyday Feminism: Debunking 5 common myths about asexuality – October 19, 2014

Everyday Feminism: Getting real about what it means to be asexual – October 1, 2016

Mamamia – This is what it’s like to live a life with no sex – 20 October 2014 I remember when I first read this, I think I nearly cried and I’ve had respect for Mamamia’s founder and publisher Mia Freedman ever since. Written by the former blogger and asexual advocate Johanna Qualmann.

I remember watching this on SBS, again in 2014. Very good clip. No sarcasm or impoliteness from the hosts of the show (which can happen).

 

Some magazines have also done articles on asexuality, including the late Cleo (again, by Qualmann), and “Australia’s Women’s Weekly”, I think back in 2014. That was a big year for asexuality awareness! For that, I’m grateful.

 

What other good items/ articles/ shows, etc have done a good job exposing asexuality? Feel free to drop links in the comment section below.