What should we tolerate in the name of free speech?

A topic dominating the media in Australia is free speech and anti – discrimination laws, both when talking about multiculturalism and the same – sex marriage plebiscite. Currently in Australia, there are a number of laws in each State and Territory protecting people on the basis of characteristics, such as race, sexuality, gender, carer status, relationship status and other grounds (Racial Discrimination Act (1975), the Anti – Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW) 1977, the Sex Discrimination Act 1984, among others.The Anti – Discrimination Act and Sex Discrimination Act in NSW, currently prohibit discrimination, harrassment, villification, etc on the gay and transgender community. Tasmania’s anti – discrimination also protects LGBT people from discrimination from public services and employment against the LGBTQ+ community.

Due to issues surrounding multiculturalism, the fear of radical Islam and the dropped case against Archbishop Julian Porteous last year and other events, anti – dupiscrimination laws have come under increased scrutiny. In light of the case against Archbishop Porteous, there have been calls from the Australian Christian Lobby to have anti – discrimination laws that protect the LGBTQ community to be scaled back while the plebiscite debate is underway. Columnist for the Australian, Sharri Markson has publicly condemned the plebiscite, arguing that it was giving a license to spread homophobia.

 

If you asked me ten years ago about this, I admit I would have said unequivocally that under NO circumstances should anti – discrimination laws – including those that protect the LGBT community should EVER be scaled back and NO ONE should EVER be exempt from such laws.

Now?

I’m kind of torn. As a GSM (gender/ sexuality minority) and someone with a disability, I would love it if minorities didn’t had to feel attacked, and, to be honest, I wish the lives of LGBTQ+ people weren’t up for such fierce, and, quite frankly, sometimes hurtful ‘debate’.

However, silencing debate – especially on controversial issues, such as same – sex marriage, I fear, will only backfire. It won’t stop opponents of the LGBTQ community, it will only make some of them bite back even harder. Frankly, I think it’s happened in countries, especially the US, where conservatives felt like the SCOTUS ruling on same – sex marriage in 2015, have bitten back with a vengeance – one notable example is Arizona pastor who said he ‘wasn’t sad’ about what happened in Orlando. There has reportedky been backlash with PayPal, Apple and YouTube cancelling his acounts (YouTube must’ve backtracked because his videos can still be seen on the site – including the one about Orlando.

I’m not saying that the above (and extreme) example is right, or that it is a view shared by most opponents of same – sex marriage. What I’m wondering is whether it’s helpful for the LGBTQ+ if such people like Anderson, or even less extreme examples are silenced by the law.

Should we tolerate such views in a democracy? Can we fight back without relying on the law to help us? And, how much should us in the LGBTQ+ community simply… I guess… tolerate?

What are your thoughts?

 

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What’s This About Minorities Taking Over?

Content Warning: homophobic bullying, Orlando Pulse Massacre

Last night, I watched Paul Murray Live on Sky News (I’m really loving that show at the moment). He was in Tweed Heads on the New South Wales/ Queensland border with Senators, David Leyonhjelm (Liberal Democrats), Pauline Hanson, (One Nation) and Kiralee Smith (Australian Liberty Alliance), plus others.

I’ve got to say, that all candidates answered very well. All made good points throughout the night. The last question by a young transwoman really stuck out to me. She was asking about Safe – Schools; the controversial anti – bullying program that was aimed at assisting LGBTQ+ students. For the record, looking deeper into the program, I think it went too far. It should have stuck with supporting the LGBTQ+ students, combated bullying in general and gave information to teachers in how to support students in the LGBTQ+ community. However, “gender theory” was used in the program, not to combat bullying, but to fulfil a radical socialist agenda of Director, Roz Ward. The video below will tell you what I mean.

(Post continues after the video).

What I didn’t expect was that, in answering the question, Pauline Hanson went on a mini rant on how society is overrun by “minorities”.

I really get annoyed with these sentiments. While I don’t agree that the Safe Schools Program went the right way in combating homophobic and trans-phobic bullying, I resent the way minorities, especially the LGBTQ+ community, are constantly shouted down any time they bring up issues of discrimination and safety at schools.

I, for one don’t want to dictate anything to anybody. I’m not trying to shout anyone down and I certainly don’t condone any abuse of anyone who is against same – sex marriage for example. but when can we – members of the LGBTQ+ community, have our say? When can we point out our own experiences of self loathing, or discrimination, without everyone fighting tooth and nail to keep us quiet?

 

The Orlando Pulse Nightclub massacre in Florida around fortnight ago was a tipping point for the LGBTQ+ community). Writer after writer have opened up about struggles – both personal and societal –  faced by the LGBTQ+ community. No matter how many politicians or journalists tried to downplay the attack or revert to other issues, members of the LGBTQ+ community were still insistent. This was only the latest (and deadliest), of a string of violent and abusive incidents that LGBTQ+ people have faced in the West. It is the deadliest of a string of acts of discrimination faced by the LGBTQ+ community in the West (at least that’s how most see it). No, this wasn’t just a terrorist attack like September 11, 2001. This was a specifically targeted attack aimed at the Hispanic LGBTQ+ community. They were the targets and victims that fateful early morning. While exact motive of the gunman is still unclear, (I’ve read and heard different theories), it has put a spotlight on LGBTQ+ discrimination.

 

So, yes, Pauline Hanson, we may just be a “minority”. We just want to be safe. We want to be heard. We don’t want to be targeted for hate speech or violence. And we will continue to speak up until violence, discrimination and abuse is not longer a daily reality for members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Thoughts about Same – Sex Marriage and the Christian Gay Debate from An Asexual Perspective

NOTE: Just want to give credit to blogger Paul J Bern and thank him for allowing me to critique his post.

 

Now, just so we’re clear, I want to point out what this post ISN’T:

Same – sex marriage has been hot topic that people have been talking about since the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) officially legalised same – sex marriage across all fifty states on the 26 June this year.

Christian blogger, Paul J Bern wrote about the ruling in the US, which you can read here. Very well written post. There was one thing that struck me, though, and what my post is based on:

I don’t usually associate with gay people. I don’t know any, and I personally don’t approve of their “lifestyle”.

I’ll say from the outset, I think Bern’s heart is in the right place. And if you read the post in full, he is actually warning against spewing hatred toward LGBT people in light of the SCOTUS ruling. There is a small problem I have with it. I think he’s focus (at least in the quote) is the exact thing that is wrong with the whole gay debate among Christians and the LGBT community, as well as the driving force behind LGBT+ discrimination in general.

Now, I get that Christians are divided on same – sex “acts, but I want to be clear. This isn’t just what this arguments about. For one thing, legally in the US, it’s about non – heterosexual couples having the same legal protections as opposite – sex couples. Now, notice I did say “heterosexual” but deliberately said “non – heterosexual couples”? Reason? Because this ruling affects more than just the gay and lesbian community for starters. I haven’t heard that the couple have to have sex to be protected, which brings me to my second point.

I think we need to start looking at LGBT+ people more holistically. I get that some people morally oppose same – sex acts, I get that. However, being gay, straight, bi or asexual or whatnot is more than just about acts. It’s about attraction, for the most part physical and emotional. The whole term “lifestyle” in regard to the LGBT community, I believe overly simplifies the experiences of the LGBT community and has been the reason, quite frankly, why the LGBT have been mistreated for so long. It’s why the “ex gay” industry, most notoriously, Exodus International was able to operate for over thirty years, leaving lives damaged along the way. Why? Because they focused on the “acts”.

But what about homoromantic asexuals who want to get married? What about the legal protections of same – sex celibate relationships? Yes, they do exist. A brilliant blog, A Queer Calling is written by a Christian lesbian couple Lindsey and Sarah that do that. They also talk about the SCOTUS ruling and how the marriage restrictions have affected them legally, even though they are not  married themselves.

 

On a more personal level, somewhat, this equating sexual orientation and sex has also negatively affected the asexual community. From the ridicule in the media to discrimination and even sexual violence, I believe that these have occurred because the sexual minorities as a whole are only labeled in terms of their supposed “lifestyle” or “acts” (or, in the case of asexuality, a lack of).

 

Sexuality is so, so much more complicated than that. Even scientists can pinpoint what causes someone to be of a paritcular orientation, but the mainstream experts now agree that, for the most part, sexual orientation can’t be chosen, nor altered through will. Needless to say, that, despite this, yes, a person can remain celibate, but that does not make them a different orientation.

 

So, can we please be a little more mature about this? Can we look at people as whole beings rather than such a narrow lens? This does affect people’s lives. And it’s time it stops being so negative.

More Steps Toward Equality and Acceptance for LGBTQ+

People were buzzed and excited with the SCOTUS decision to legalise same – sex marriage across the US on 22 June 2015. Symbolic celebration took over Facebook. But what now? This ruling won’t eliminate homophobia. Things like LGBT suicide, bullying and the like will need to be addressed. And what about everyone else LGBT/ non – cis – gender/ heterosexual?

  • Asexual people ACTUALLY BEING BELIEVED
  • Adexual getting ethical treatment by mental health professionals
  • Bisexual people not being portrayed like a poem fantasy in the media (I think ‘Orange is Tge New Black’ is starting to destigmatise bisexual people)
  • That people across the LGBT+ people will all be protected under anti – discrimination/equal opportunity laws from unfair dismissal
  • That LGBT+ people will no longer experience discrimination as a tenant
  • Asexual and bisexual women in particular will be able to resist sexual advances without bein violated
  • When homophobic bullying is no longer prevalent.
  • That transgender people can be referred to by their preferred gender pronouns and names as a sign of respect.

So, yeah, I think there is still a way to go. We’re making advances, hat’s for sure. Even asexuality is starting to be discussed more, and the majority of coverage  in the mediais quite positive, actually. So, I’m quietly optimistic.

Just a note: as you probably can point out, I didn’t mention pan or poly sexuals. That’s because I don’t know about their experiences. In the comments, feel free to add what you’d like to see happen and your own experiences.

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.

Is Sexuality Private?

From time to time, people say ‘sex is private’. True. However, issues surrounding sexuality are (or seems to be) increasingly not private. Just think about it; why is gay marriage often such a heated topic? Why are sexual and gender minorities over – represented in ill – mental health, self – harm and suicide statistics? Why does the mention of LGBT+ issues cause such a storm to the point of hatred? Surely if it was just a ‘private’ issue, it wouldn’t haves such an affect, would it?

When talking about the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, critics argue ‘they shouldn’t shove it in our faces’. However, the Mardi Gras started in the late ’70’s as a protest against discrimination and police brutality against gay men in particular. This ‘private issue’ saw people being electrocuted to theoretically rid the ‘patient’ os same – sex attraction. It made young LGB people in particular, go through unprofessional, sometimes downright unethical ‘counselling’ that in turn, proved to harm the patients psychologically.

This ‘private issue’ saw asexual teens and young people feel alienated and broken. It sees asexual people being asked deeply personal questions, only to have their answers backfire back on them. Asexual people are also subject to institutional discrimination in some parts of the world.

If it was such a ‘private issue’, something that people don’t need to know about, will all this still go on? Maybe it’d be great if it could just be ‘private’. But the past ANC in some cases, ongoing discrimination against LGBT+?people is a public matter.

Discrimination Against Asexuals

Trigger Warning: This post speaks about sexual violence. If this is triggering for you, feel free to move on from this post. Get any professional help you may need.

I’m up to the part in the book “The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality”. I’m going to change tactic though and say what I think about the whole issue from what I’ve read in the book (the chapter’s too long to do a brief post, I think).

We hear about homophobia all the time. It’s come to a point, where in society, it’s generally frowned upon. Someone can even be sacked or prosecuted for making an overtly homophobic comment, or at the very least, be under public pressure to apologise (especially if it’s caught by the media). However, I can’t help but think the same standards are being held against asexual people. It’s like, in some cases they’re fair game. Now, before anyone jumps on me, I’m very aware of the oppression that LGBT people face. I’ve talked before about it on this blog. But asexual discrimination I feel is just as important, but little known. Some areas of discrimination faced by asexuals include:

  • Not having marriage legally recognised
  • Alienation and disfavour within religious communities
  • Refusal to be able to adopt
  • “Corrective” rape
  • Discrimination from the mental health professionals
  • Self – hatred/ internalised discrimination

Having a marriage annulled because of a lack of sex

By what I’ve read, it sounds like marriages, at least in the US can be deemed iligitimate if it’s known that the couple aren’t having satisfactory sex and a partner complains about it. And this is a problem for the government because? Why not get them to seek professional help (no, not just to ‘fix’ the asexual) to get the couple to work out their relationship and work on a compromise that they’re both happy with? If such an arrangement doesn’t work out, then maybe, the relationship wans’t meant ot be. But once a marriage is in place, the government should be play no role policing how such a marriage should opperate (unless, of course crime is going on). Maybe I’m mistaken. But it just seems a bit off to me.

Alienation and disfavour within religious communities

Some religious communities are very heteronormative, especially if they have a very strict traditional view of gender. She talks about how many asexuals feel demonised for their orintation, or like in mainstream society, made to feel like there’s something wrong with them. I just want to interject a view from what I’ve personally viewed.

In some Christian circles, even Evangelical circles, there is a move away from enforcing marriage and demonising people, simply for being single. They even quote Paul from the bible to accomodate their approval. However, I’ve often wondered whether this comes out of a form of political correctness; like people feel like they HAVE TO accommodate singles in a bid to not be demonised from the outside. Then again, they could just be making the decision to be more accommodating. But this doesn’t cover people in non – sexual, but romantic relationships.

Sex is expected to be a given in marriage in a Christian context, especially if they hone on the fact that they strongly believe that sex should be reserved for marriage. I actually think they go too far sometimes. I’ve even read in a book wher the Evangelical Christian author practically blamed infidelity on the partner that withold sex. Now, to do it out of spite, I can understand that’s not good. But to make a blanket vilification against a partner that can’t have sex or are not comfortable with it isn’t right. I’m inclined to agree with Decker when she condemned such an attitude as being abusive.

Refusal to be able to adopt

Apparently, in the US, there have been incidences where a couple have been refused adoption due to couples (or at least one person) being asexual. I think the idea behind it is that they should be able to reproduce naturally? Anyway, I think it’s ridiculous. Again, invasion of privacy. And it needs to be said, why? Why does a couple’s sexual practices (so long as they are legal and consensual), have any bearing on whether they should be able to adopt or look after a child? I don’t get it. Mind your own business, for heaven’s sake! If a couple is having troubles, let THEM sort it out and determine what action should be taken NOT government agencies!

“Corrective” rape

Decker says in the book, as well as her video on discrimination, that asexual women, in particular, can be vulnerable to sexual assault. The perpetrator can be either a stranger or even a partner/ spouse. It goes on the stupid theory that an egotistical maniac can “turn” a woman because of his own grandiosity (at least for the stranger part), which is ridiculous! In intimate partnerships, an asexual partner can feel bullied into having sex with their partner. When this happens, and the partner who’s been (let’s be honest here), raped opens up, according to Decker, people are likely to be sympathetic to the perpetrator rather than the victim.

NEWSFLASH: spousal rape is now illegal in most Western countries, including Australia in the mid 1970’s. So there should be NO EXCUSE. I’ll say it again, if a couple feels like they need help in regarding sexual issues, they should feel free to look for it, but NOT for the sole purpose of humiliating one of the partners!

Discrimination from mental health professionals

The latest edition of the DIagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V), changed the definitions of Hyposexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) and Sexual Arousal Disorder (SAD), deliberately differentiating them (particularly HSDD) between the disorder as opposed to asexuality, which is the orientation. In 2010, asexual advocates, including founder of AVEN David Jay demanded that these modifications be made. Unfortunately, apparently, not all health professionals have caught on. Asexuailty can be fixated on as a “problem” in a person’s lives, regardless on whether the client focuses on it or not. To me, this is unethical, frankly. Mental health professionals are not there to plant ideas into client’s heads! They’re there to HELP  the client work through their issues (without intruding), so they can live life that they want (I studied Community Services for two years, which included modules on couselling and client/ professional communication). From what I’ve read, if a licensed professional did the same thing to someone who was gay, they’d be deregistered, or at the very least, disciplined by their medical/ psychological board. Why aren’t asexuals given the same respect? Fortunately, there are therapists/ counsellors out there who recognise asexuality as an orientation and are likely to treat the asexual client respectfully. Decker hinted that it might be best to seek a counsellor who has experience in LGBT counselling.

Self – hatred/ internalised discrimination

This part made me cry, because I get it. It is something that people can go through, and it can be quite psychologically harmful. It’s very easy to do, hard to get over. Fortunately, I can honestly say that I’m coming to a place where I’m accepting who I am. I’m not completely there yet, but better than what I have been in the past.

The pain can be exacerbated if the person feels like they should isolate themselves in a bid not be rejected from others. By “isolation”, I’m not just talking about it in a physical sense. I’m talking aboutbeing in a group, but feeling like you can’t (or shouldn’t) open up about your own experiences in fear of being rejected if the topic of relationships, marriage pop up. Somtimes, the second one is more painful. Sometimes, when an asexual opens up, I won’t lie, it can backfire. However, somtimes, coming out can be liberating as well.

The chapter as a whole was quite disheartening. It really opened my eyes to how a lot of work needs to be done to eradicate sexual orientation – based discrimination. I’m quietly hopeful. With more visibiility, more advocacy, hopefully we’ll come to a point where discrimination against asexuals will become more frowned upon.