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.

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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.

Identity and Politics

The “Gayby Baby” film presentation controversy has hit me harder than I’d like to admit. Not because it does affect me personally per se in terms of families, but it’s struck me at how political such issues have become. It’s bought back feelings of like I shouldn’t be who I am all over again, quite frankly.

Why is identity, particularly of minorities (racial, gender, sexuality, etc), so politicised? Not everybody is straight! GET OVER IT! I’ve written before in one of my other blogs, and also here, that I’ve struggled with self – acceptance. To be perfectly honest, those feelings haven’t gone away completely. This is why I’m so passionate about these issues being discussed in schools and for students who don’t fit the “heteronormative” category, or whose family doesn’t fit the “nuclear” norm is so important. It’s reality! All this talk about “propaganda” and the “gay agenda” is just becoming ridiculous. Students and parents should not be forced nor intimidated into watching the film, I agree with conservative commentators on that.

 

Why are the lives of LGBT+ people and their portrayal in society so overly politicised? Why is it, when an issue affecting the LGBT+ come up, it’s automatically deemed “shoving it in people’s faces”, or “the minority is taking over the rights of the majority”. Newsflash: THE MAJORITY HAVEN’T PUT UP WITH THE GARBAGE THAT THE LGBT+ HAVE (at least not for something like sexuality. I would take a shot and say that straight kids don’t have to pull their hair out wondering whether they should “come out”, all the while fearing repercussions. Straight people aren’t physically attacked or emotionally abused because of their sexuality. Straight people don’t go around having their orientation mocked in the media or told that it doesn’t exist. Straight people aren’t spiritually abused in religious institutions, pressuring them to take part in pseudo “counselling” which is condemned by mainstream medical bodies around the world. Straight people aren’t at risk of being sexually assaulted in a bid to “cure” or change their orientation. For straight people, struggles with sexuality generally don’t lead to self – harm and suicide (not that suicide, mental illness and self – harm aren’t tragic in other circumstances).

 

I believe (and the reason why I support the showing of the documentary), is not to “convert” people to be LGBT+, nor force people to take a particular side but merely gives voice to people who are living the reality of, in this case, living in same – sex headed families. Are there people that are going to disagree? Of course there will be. Will it make opponents of same – sex marriage change their minds? Probably not. All it will do is say “this is how some people live in the world”. That’s it. I’ll stress again, I’m against forcing or bullying people into watching it. Opponents should be treated with the same respect as proponents. But, in the context of schools and the wider community, the LGBT+ should be able to be heard just as much as anyone else. People in non – traditional families should not be in fear of public backlash. Like I wrote in another blog, if this can open the door to talk about not just gay and lesbian parenting, but also open the way to acknowledging other non – straight students (including asexuals), then it’ll be worth it.

 

Why is acceptance so politicised, I’ll never know.