Is it necessary to get rid of heteronormative language?

I know it’s nearly Christmas and I wasn’t planning on writing something this heavy, but I think it’s something that needs to be said – again.

Is this really necessary? According to Andrew Bolt, Victorian government workers are being told not to use cis – hetero – normative language, particularly around LGBTQ+ clients. OK, I’m cis – gender. I have never questioned or struggled with my gender identity, so I’d like to hear some views from trans and gender – diverse people about this. Is it really necessary for people to avoid cis – hetero – normative language around you? I mean, sure, it’d probably help if they don’t assume, but is it possible for you just to say “actually I prefer the pronoun X”. Also, when dealing with LGBTQ+ couples, just use a gender – neutral noun like “partner” or another term the couple themselves prefer. Is that so hard?

In regard to relationships, in Australia, marriage is still legally defined as between one man and one woman. I have heard of some parents, other family and friends of LGBTQ+ people blocking their ears at marriage ceremonies in protest of the current definition of marriage in Australia as celebrants are mandated by law to state the current legal definition. I sort of understand that. The issue of same – sex marriage is very real and personal for many people in the LGBTQ+ community and allies. I get that. But I don’t see how adjusting language completely will help combat homophobia and trans – phobia or fight for change in marriage laws. In fact, as I’ve said many times before, I think it’ll end up backfiring on the LGBTQ+ community – even if (when?) –  same – sex marriage is legal.

 

But I wonder whether it goes deeper than that. Is it still treating LGBTQ+ people like “the other”, so to speak? Does it help or hinder the LGBTQ+ community to have bureaucrats to impose an acceptable standard on the rest of society when it comes to simply interacting with the LGBTQ+ community. Shouldn’t we be able to speak up for ourselves? Can’t we say, “this is my partner” or “I prefer the pronoun ze, hir, or they?”. Or even for some asexual/ aromantic people, “this is my queer – platonic partner”?

In the aftermath of the Trump victory in the US, Brexit and the rise of One Nation here, one thing is made abundantly clear – people are tired of being ignored, being lectured at and having bureaucrats dictate what is acceptable. People are tired of feeling guilty and walking on egg shells. Stand up for your rights and the rights of others, by all means. But what is happening now isn’t working. Or, it may seem like it’s working now, but don’t be surprised when people continue to rise in revolt – possibly leaving the people that are meant to be protected even more vulnerable.

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Support for plebiscite plummets.Wonder why?

According to Newscorp columnist, Andrew Bolt, support for the plebiscite on same – sex marriage has crashed to 39%. Wonder why?

People are sick of it?

Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t argue for it properly? (Bolt’s answer).

The idea that the plebiscite is non – binding, that the Parliament have to vote on it anyway?

All the above?

The so – called “debate” on same – sex marriage has been pathetic and BOTH the Coalition and Labor are to blame. The Coalition should’ve set a date in concrete ages ago. Labor need to stop playing politics with the issue. The cost of the plebiscite, originally said to be $160,000,000 has now ballooned to a possible $170,000,000 – $185,000,000 (all AUD), due to be supposed promise that Turnbull allegedly made to fund advertising both the “Yes” and “No” advertising campaign.

Labor hasn’t been angels on this either. No, they’ve been hypocrites on it. They are playing the victim cards; exploiting a teenage boy raised by lesbian parents and Opposition Leader being accused (I think rightly), of “emotional blackmail” after linking the plebiscite to the high rate of gay teen suicide. This is government who didn’t have the guts over six years to do anything about same – sex marriage. Add  threats against motel staff where a Christian meeting was meant to take place, but had to be cancelled and a (what I thought initially was under – reported) bomb threat made against a Melbourne LGBT radio Station JOY 94.9 FM. Respectful debate? Yeah right!

 

Note to people AND POLITICIANS on both sides of the debate. LGBTQ+ people are PEOPLE! Not political pawns, bargaining chips, etc. If you really care about the welfare of of LGBTQ+ youth, then grow up, have a debate and make a decision. Do NOT use us to further your cause. Remember, you are talking about the lives of people here. So enough! Have a plebiscite, have a vote, just do it!

 

To the general public. Think about how your words and actions can people around you. Respect all people in this. If you want to challenge someone’s positions, argue with FACTS; statistics, etc. For opponents, don’t just make the LGBTQ+ community look like caricatures or stereotypes. I’d say the same thing about proponents. Stop treating opponents like monsters under the bed. It’s not doing the campaign any good. They are brothers, sisters, lovers, etc, just like you are. Again, argue with FACTS, not stereotypes or abuse. I know why some LGBTQ+ people are angry. I do. But taking your anger and using it to abuse others is not going to further your fight.

 

 

Can or will polygamy ever be legalised in Australia if same – sex marriage is?

Newscorp journalist, Andrew Bolt warned (again) about the increasing demand for the legalisation of polygamy, and that proponents of same – sex marriage won’t be able to resist it based on their arguments for same – sex marriage. He’s argued this again and again. I’ve got to say that the blog post he published on Monday nearly had me convinced, or at least open my mind to his concern. Then, I did some research… and now… not so much. Still possible, but…. I’m less convinced.

Let’s get one thing on the table first (which does make sense, but I didn’t know conclusively – the difference between polyamory and polygamy (plural marriage). According to “Love Outside the Box”, there are similarities between polygamy and polyamory, but also, quite significant differences. They include:

Similarities

  • Multiple partners
  • Deserving of human rights (I’ll get back to this point when talking about polygamy in more depth)
  • Lack of government and social recognition as a family status

 

Differences

This is where things get a little interesting

  • While polyamory is deemed egalitarian, polygamy is patriarchal
  • Polygamy is often based on religious ideology rather than secular freedom of choice
  • Partners in polygamous structures exclude people who identify LGBTQ. It’s heterosexual – based whereas polyamory can be practised by people of all orientations and gender identities
  • Polyamory is permitted in the US, where as polygamy is largely outlawed
  • Polyamory is based on romantic/ sexual relationships and desires, where as polygamy is generally about family
  • Polyamory isn’t necessarily cis – normative, whereas in polygamy, all members are expected to fit the male/ female gender binary

These differences sound benign, yeah? Maybe apart from polygamy being LGBTQ+ exclusionary. People may also be uncomfortable with a supposed lack of equality between men and women in polygamous relationships, if this list is anything to go by. And family and children? I”ll talk about that shortly, because that is one issue that is raised frequently in the debate of same – sex marriage.

Polygamy vs Bigamy

I wonder if these terms get mixed up. Bigamy – the act of having more than one legal spouse is not legal in any country that has permitted same – sex marriage. According to lawyers.com both polygamy and bigamy are illegal in the US. However, it’s impossible to police and implement, as was proven in one case.

According to Huffington Post, a polygamous family featured in “Sister Wives” unsuccessfully overturned Utah’s anti – polygamy laws. The initial 2013 ruling by Justice Clark Waddoups was overthrown earlier this year because the Brown family hadn’t been prosecuted in the first place. The family’s attorney and legal scholar, Jonathan Turley said in a blog post that he’d challenge the ruling.

Countries, like Canada, have taken a strict stance. Section 293 under the Criminal Code outlaw both bigamy and informal multiple – partner arrangements. In 2011, Chief Justice Robert Baumann ruled that the anti – polygamy law be upheld due to fear of the effect that polygamy has on women, men and children. The claim that this ruling has been in breach of Canada’s “Bill of Rights” has fallen on deaf ears. Ironically,  prolific polygamist and fundamentalist Mormon leader, Winston Blackmore, has come out in support of Chief Justice Baumann’s decision, saying that polygamy exploits women.  Blackmore has been charged under the anti – polygamy laws in 2007 (which were dropped), and 2014. The 2014 charge is still pending, with no trial date being set as of 3 August this year.

The fear about the treatment of women in polygamous/ bigamous settings are not uncommon, nor unfounded. According to The National – UAE, a survey of 100 women conducted by associate professor in the department of English at the American University of Sharja Dr. Rana Raddawi, revealed that many women who took part in the study felt neglected and experienced jealousy.

According to Zainab Al Hammadi, some sociologists have suggested that in some communities, polygamy (as in polygyny – one man, many wives),  has economic and productive advantages and is widespread particularly in agricultural areas where the inhabitants’ education is limited. Howver, Al Hammadi’s LinkedIn article tends to echo the gender inequality of other studies:

Polygamy refers also bias gender and why males are allowed to marry one wife, two or three wives; this indicates males have advantage in bearing responsibility, so that they have ability to take decisions in their marriage type. The main problem may face wives that men are always love new wife in particularly young wife. This desire changes in men’s desire toward older wives. As in indicated in the “Her Three Days”, story narrated by Numbe, said Mustafa had married a younger women. This sudden realization of the facts sent a pain to her heart, a pain of anguish.” (Sembene) (sic)

According to Al Hammadi, the feeling of neglect by older wives in a polygamous family is common. Studies indicate that the jealousy gets so intense that it can cause women to be physically harmed and sometimes some may take their own lives due to the distress. The first wife is particularly vulnerable.

Children are often negatively affected, due to aggression that can be present polygamous households. Drug and alcohol abuse and other problem behaviour isn’t uncommon among teenagers in the Middle East who live in polygamous households. In 1985, a study in Kuwait found that women in polygamous households were over represented in needing mental health care. I think you get the idea. It’s not a pretty picture. You can read the whole study here. Other negative effects that have been shown in areas where polygamy is widely practised include: overpopulation (McMahon, 2010), the struggle to maintain rate of sexually transmitted infections (Beamer and Calder, 2013). Polygamy has even shown to  negatively affect men. They face issues such as alcoholism, bought on by psychological problems (Jencks and Milton, 2010), and they often have lower education levels than monogamous counterparts. However, women are said to be more negatively in polygamous families.

 

Now, I have to be fair. These studies I’ve just (tried) to summarise refer to strictly polygyny; one man, multiple wives. It does not take into account arrangements like polyandry (one woman, many men), or any polyamorous/ LGBTQ+ – friendly groupings. So, what are the studies and what do they say? In 2013, Elisabeth A. Sheff PhD, CASA, CSE published an article in Psychology Today on a study she conducted on poly – families.  Her findings I thought were interesting. Now it is important to note that Sheff admits early on in the article that the sample (which was voluntary), included people who were generally happy and well – adjusted in their poly families. She also admits that information that she could get from American universities was restricted because of confidentiality protocols, so the respondents couldn’t be directly contacted after the study or give further information. Issues such as people only being in a poly lifestyle for a certain time naturally dropped out of the study, which also affected the sample.

Findings

The participants were middle – class Westerners and many were highly educated. This contrasts with polygamous families in the U.S. where some children don’t even finish primary school. This is an interesting finding, and in my opinion, does create a bit of contrast between polygamous/ polygynous families versus polyamorous families. Education allows people to make choices and maintain independence and autonomy.

The overall finding was that children in poly families  were not any worse off than traditional/ monogamous families. This is an interesting contrast compared to the negative effects of polygyny on children in countries where it’s widely practised. As I pointed out above, abuse, spousal neglect and drug and alcohol abuse seemed to be common concerns repeatedly raised in those studies.

However, some people disagree that children are not affected in poly families. James Lopez of “The Stream”, argued that children are worse off in poly families, arguing that a child is best off with his/ her biological parents. It gives one point to marriage traditionalists. In short, he uses the argument that children are best off when raised by their two (preferably married), biological parents and that children who are not in that sort of environment are at higher risks of abuse, neglect, and in some cases, homicide.

So, married biological parents are best environments for children. So, that excludes same – sex parents, yes? Academically, a number of studies have been done on this topic. 74 out of 78 of the studies recorded that there was no significant difference between children raised by same – sex parents and children raised by heterosexual parents, while four did suggest that children were adversely affected. One study was by Mark Regenerus from the University of Texas, who’s “study has been praised by conservative Christian organisations such as the Family Research Council. However, Regenerus’ study has come under fire for using flawed methodology. Professor Simon Cheng (University of Connecticut) and Brian Powell (Indiana University), accused Regenerus of mis – classifying many of the people used in the studyIn part, Powell and Cheng noted:

Research communities in the social sciences have long been aware that methodological decisions can potentially affect the inferences of survey research (Firebaugh, 2008). This threat to the validity of research inferences is particularly challenging for studies that focus on a very small group of interest, such as some racial minority groups, atypical families, and same – sex families (Cheng and Powell, 2005 and Cheng and Powell, 2011). In such research, even a tiny percentage of measurement errors for the small subsamples could powerfully distort patterns from the surveys, and other methodological choices can similarly affect empirical results. When research findings from these analyses are used as policy guidelines, the threat goes even beyond scientific communities, It is therefore incumbent for scholars to critically assess the impllicatoins of these decisions in their own work as well as that of others.

On Regenerus’ study:

Below, we first discuss the NFSS and Regenerus’s measures of family types using the data. and highlight the difficulties in using the NFSS to accurately distinguish between family types, using adoptive households and intact biological families as illustrations. We then discuss the challenges in accurately identifying same – sex families. We follow this discussion with a closer look at the NFSS survey and demonstrate the potential for misclassifying a non – negligible number of respondents as having been raised by parents who had a same – sex romantic relationship. Finally, we assess the cumulative implications of these possible classification errors and other methodological considerations from from various stages of the research process by reanalyzing the NFSS seven steps.

These reanalyses provide a “reality check” regarding the conclusions from the original Regenerus study. The patterns from these reanalyses offer evidence of the fragility of these conclusions – so fragile, in fact, that they are due primarily to methodological choices made by Regenerus. Or, to put it another way, when equally plausible and, in our view, preferred methodological decisions are used, a different conclusion emerges: adult children who lived with same – sex parents show comparable outcome profiles to those of other family types, including intact biological families. That this (sic) revised conclusion is consistent with those reported in most previous studies and inconsistent with Regenerus’s findings illustrates how the accumulation of research decisions throughout the research endeavor – and, in particular, measurement decisions that overlook inconsistent information within the data – may lead to questionable conclusions, even with a population-based large sample.

(All emphasis mine).

A year later, Regenerus himself admitted to (ironically) Focus on the Family that the findings in his study were “too weak to draw the conclusions that many have made”. I can hear/ see critics now blaming Cheng and Powell for being biased against Regenerus because of his Christianity, etc, but either the facts stack up or they don’t. And clearly, in this situation, the study conducted by Regenerus wasn’t done to a satisfactory standard.

Going back to the slippery slope argument in general – I have yet to be convinced. Frankly, I think a lot of it scare mongering. Then again, I guess no one can know for certain that it’d never happen. Personally, I won’t hold my breath, considering much of the information I’ve linked to and written above. In regard to same – sex marriage in general – it’s most likely going to be a plebiscite in February, or if Labor block it, nothing until at least 2019 if Labor win the next Federal election. Until then, my hope is that the LGBTQ+ community stay strong. For non – LGBTQ+ allies, families and friends, please be there for your LGBTQ+ family members/ friends if it all becomes a bit too much. For anyone who needs help, the Lifeline number is 13 11 14. For support and information, you can also look up Beyond Blue and, QLife. If you need help please get it.

To finish off, I want to quote Ellen Degeneres. “be kind to one another”.

 

 

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?

 

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.

LGBT Discrimination Happens In The West

I read a post from Andrew Bolt’s Herald Sun blog lamenting the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby’s (GLRL) silence on the persecution and murder of gays in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, in which many gays are executed under anti – gay laws, as well as the barbaric killings of gays by Islamic State. While I get what he’s saying, one commenter did tell an uncomfortable truth… LGBT people are still discriminated against in Australia.

Sure, homosexuality has been decriminalised here nationwide for nearly 20 years (Tasmania was the last state to do so in 1997 ), however, being of a sexual/ gender minority in Australia isn’t always easy.

Stats shows that:

  • LGBT students are more than 60% more likely to be physically or verbally bullied at school! compared to 25%
  • LGBT youth are still more likely to be kicked out of home if they come out to family
  • they are still between six to eight times more likely to take, or attempt to take, their own lives.

Now, now, due to technical issues I was having before, I won’t post any links, however, if anyone is interested in gaining more information, Youth Beyond Blue has great information on these issues.

No, let me be clear here, I’m not saying we should turn a blind eye to what is going on overseas. Like hell! It’s absolutely horrendous what goes on in these countries. What I am saying is that being LGBT+ in Australia (zoo in the West in general), isn’t always a bed of roses. Progresses have been made for sure, but we haven’t made it. We won’t have made it until everyone can safely be themselves, when homophobes insults are no longer directed at people, until asexual people can be believed and respected and when people aren’t expected to  ‘come out’ and can just live their lives.

Identity – Challenging Bromberg On His Argument

TW: suicide, but only a brief mention.

 

Is identity predestined or chosen? I’d say bit of both, but more of the former. Let me explain what I”m talking about.

I read this article on Andrew Bolt’s blog I’m just reporting what some other guy argues. It would probably be unlawful for me to agree. Predominately, it’s talking about cultural heritage, however, there are mentions of sexual orientation and gender identity that I feel compelled to comment on.

In terms of racial identity, I can see where Bolt is coming from. His parents migrated from Holland just before he was born in the last 1950’s. In his adult life, he made the deliberate choice to identify as “Australian”, leaving his Dutch heritage behind. However, I wonder if it’d be the same, for example, if the suburb in Adelaide (where he grew up), had a bigger Dutch population? What if he had a non – Caucasian heritage, like Chinese, Arabic or Vietnamese? Would his decision be the same? I also know of a family who’s kids I grew up with who’s parents spoke Cantonese at home. Isn’t it possible that could’ve had some influence on how they identify?

I know someone who’s mother came from Germany after the war. The mother slammed German relatives who spoke their native tongue in fron of the children because of the pain it caused. Maybe if this person was more exposed to the German culture or language, would things have turned out differently in the way she identified?

First thing; cultural heritage. In this article, the associate professor Mike Keane, among other things, quoted from Justice Mordecai Bromberg:

In my view, identity like any other form of consent, is completely contemporary phenomenon. At each and every juncture you make an autonomous choice about how you identify…

(Couple of paragraphs down):

Justice Bromberg’s standard would then create some bizarre and wholly unacceptable ethical precedents. Imagine what this principle, if logically extended to other forms of identity and ethics, would mean. Your upbringing would forever cast you into a certain  identity. You were born a Catholic? Well, then society will hold you to it all through your adult life. And if you want to identify as transgender? No, sorry you’re not allowed.

OK, on this little bit. I think I can safely say that the majority of transgender don’t “want to identify as transgender”. It’s how they authentically feel themselves. From what I’ve heard/ read about gender it’s pretty instinctual. Actually, on Sunrise one day (last year?), columnist Shelley Horton paraphrased respected Melbourne – based childhood and adolescence psychologist Dr. Michael Carr – Gregg when she said that if a transgender child isn’t able to express their gender identity, their risk of suicide skyrockets. (NOTE: not all children who go through this in early childhood end up as transgender adults).

By the way, this decade, century, whatever, is not the first time that there have been people who have identified as transgender. There have been historical accounts from the early 1900’s of certain biological women who have dressed up as men and have even married other women in that disguise. In such cases, historians have genuinely questioned whether the women were in actual fact transgender.

Secondly:

At a time when we are talking on the intolerance of Islamic State, Justice Bromberg’s decision would have us forever cast people to racial, religious and sexual identity from birth without the possibility of opt out.

How does exactly someone “opt out” of being straight? Or gay? Or asexual? I have said in the past that, yes sexual identity/ orientation isn’t black – and – white for some people. I have also argued that for others, sexual orientation is never likely to be fluid. And I still stand by that. I think it’s fair to say after the collapse of the “ex – gay” industry both here and the US, for a lot of people, gay, straight, asexual, etc, that there are people who can’t just “opt out” of their sexual identity (some of them can’t anyway). It’s how they’re wired. According to the American Psychological Association (although there are differing views, I might add), most people’s sexual orientation is identified and pretty much determined by the age of fifteen. Of course, there are exceptions.

It’s my view that identity is complex. I don’t think it’s simple to say, “it’s choice” or even that it’s all natural. It’s a mixture of both and probably more. Should we discriminate on any of these grounds? Good heavens no! But, like I said before, completely ignoring people’s differences isn’t the answer either, whether they “choose” these differences or not.