Cate Mcgregor lashes out at LGBT community and why I’m sympathetic to gender non – binary people

Former Group Captain and Order of Australia, Catherine Mcgregor has lashed out publication Sydney Star Observer and the LGBT community, labelling them “capricious”, “discriminatory”, “narrow – minded” and “totalitarian”.She also opposes calling non – binary people “they” without a diagnosis of gender dysphoria:

I do not support bullying of trans or gay kids more than I support bullying of Muslims or Christians or fat kids or rangas. But you don’t just wear a nose ring and demand to be called “they” in the absence of a diagnosis.

Mcgregor isn’t the only trans person to criticise pronouns such as “they” when describing gender and the idea that gender is non – binary. American YouTuber, Blaire White, also a transwoman, totally rejects the idea that there are more than two genders:

Content Warning: coarse language

When I read Mcgregor’s article, I was conflicted. I still am. As a cis – gender female, I will be the first to say that I have no idea what Mcgregor or White have gone through. Mcgregor has said publicly that for her, the struggle was becoming too much. She says that she was diagnosed with gender dysphoria – an acute distress over a person’s gender identity and sex not matching up. The latest Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), has used the term “gender dysphoria” instead of Gender Identity Disorder (GID), which has has been applauded as being a step to destigmatise trans people.

However, I’m not willing to say for certain that gender non – binary people are making their identity up as a political statement, like White suggests, or whether they (collectively), vary in political persuasions just as people in any other group.

I’m not willing to say that gender non – binary people are making it up, because, until very recently, that’s how many people viewed asexuality. In my teen years, two health professionals told me two myths about asexuality – one was that it doesn’t exist and another said it was a phase that people grow out of. The first isn’t true and the second isn’t true for most asexual people. Asexuality was classed as a part of hypo sexual desire disorder (HSDD), until the DSM V was modified. The idea that asexuality is a phase, doesn’t exist or is a mental disorder has left many asexual people feel confused, broken and isolated.

However, science is slowly proving that asexuality may be a legitimate orientation. According to Lorri Brotto and Morag Yule, research indicates that, like homosexuality, heterosexuality and bisexuality, epigenetics seem to play a part in determining whether someone becomes asexual. Now, I don’t know about anyone else, but I think this is huge! Now, in terms of gender, I understand that there has been some research on cross – sex (MtF/ FtM) transgender people’s brain structures and differences have been noticed. Genetics may also play a part. An identical twin is more likely to identify as trans if his/ her identical twin identifies as trans. This research has only been very recent. In the past, I’ve looked up research on non – binary gender identities and there’s basically none. That’s not to say that non – binary/ agender people don’t exist and anyone who identifies that way is making it up. What I’m saying is, let the science catch up. Until then, I still don’t understand why people are still getting their knickers in a knot over the pronoun “they”. What’s so hard to call someone that if “they” prefer it?

What do you think? Am I wrong? I’d like to especially like to hear from trans/ gender non – binary people about this. Feel free to comment!

Advertisements

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.

 

 

October Carnival of Aces: Asexual Community

This post is for the October Carnival of Aces: “Joining the Asexual Community”.

I live in a town that has no real LGBTQ or asexual community. There are LGBTQ events in a regional town where I live, but I’ve never been a part of them. To be honest, I’m not sure whether they are actually asexual inclusive. When I was studying Community Services Work about three years ago, I found out about a group called Hume Phoenix. Again, I’m not sure whether they are ace inclusive or not. Anyway, I didn’t end up completing the course and I’ve never had anything to do with the organisation. I’ve read about different meetups/ events advertised in their local paper, but have never been involved. My connection with the asexual community has been solely online. I’m signed up to Asexuality Visibility and Education Network (AVEN), but haven’t been able to keep track of my passwords. I haven’t tried getting into it for probably a couple of years now. My main connection with members of the asexual community has mainly been on Facebook.

On Facebook, there are many groups for Asexual people; some general, there’s one that’s meant for asexual people who hold certain beliefs (i.e. a “Conservative Asexual”, ‘Asexual Christians’, etc), some with age restrictions, (18+ asexuals), and ones aimed at certain romantic orientations; homoromantic asexuals, aromantic asexuals, etc. I’m in a few, but the one I’m most active in is a closed group for asexuals of all romantic orientations, nationalities, beliefs, etc. Partners and spouses of asexual people have also joined the group to gain a better understanding of their partner/ spouse. I think that’s commendable. From what I’ve seen, these people are treated quite well.

The group is meant to be inclusive. Discrimination against anyone – including cissexism, trans-phobia, anti – allosexual attitudes in general, racism, ableism, etc is condemned. Any group member who breaches these (and other) rules risk being banned from the group. Sensitivity to others experiences and using appropriate warnings (e.g. trigger warnings, content warnings, graphic), are usually expected. This rule has caused a bit of heated debate over the years as some people don’t see the point in such warnings, or think that they are used too frequently, but generally, people use them without too much drama.

 

What I like about the group is how broad it is. It makes it easier for new members to express their doubts.  More often than not, other members will express similar experiences. Confused about your romantic orientation? You’re not alone. Christian? You’re not alone. Think your romantic orientation is fluid? You’re not alone. Question your sexuality because you have a sex drive? You’re not alone. Yout get it. It’s a broad circle. That’s what I like about it.

 

I’d really recommend people who have questions about asexuality either for personal or educational reasons to send a request to the group admins to ask to join (it’s a closed group. Prospective members have to be let in to look at content and participate). Don’t be shy! We don’t bite. If you abide by the rules pinned at the top of the group wall, you should be fine. Have fun and be informed while you’re there. Even if you are asexual and have identified that way for years, there’s still things we can all learn.

 

What asexual groups are you involved in on – line? Feel free to drop a comment. Please remain respectful to me and other users as always. 

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”.

 

 

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.

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 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?