I reported earlier this week on the largely positive report issued by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights on a private member’s bill, the Marriage Legislation Amendment Bill 2015, intended to legalise marriage equality, and the three Coalition Senators who penned a dissenting report in which they suggest legalising marriage equality in Australia would breach the human rights of religious people.
‘The bigots are scraping the bottom of the barrel,’ Greens MP Adam Bandt responded to the dissenting Coalition Senators. Greens Senator Robert Simms similarly slammed the three Senators for ‘cloaking bigotry and homophobia in the language of human rights.’
In response to Bandt, that bastion of Christian love, the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) issued a media release calling on him to apologise.
The ACL is an organisation that claims 40,000 members, which is 0.17% of Australia’s population, although they attract only 2,245 Twitter followers and 11,955 likes on Facebook. The ACL’s anti-marriage equality front, the Australian Marriage Forum (AMF) attracts only 226 Twitter followers and 1,615 likes on Facebook.
By comparison, Australian Marriage Equality, the official marriage equality lobby group in Australia, attracts 10,433 followers on Twitter and 104,655 likes on Facebook. Meanwhile, Equal Marriage Rights Australia, a community group in support of marriage equality has 273,828 likes on Facebook.
The ACL is convinced it represents a ‘silent majority’ of Australians. However, consistent polling also contradicts that belief, showing support for marriage equality has been steadily growing, and currently sits around 68%.
The Australian Christian Lobby has called on the Greens to stop calling people ‘bigots’.
As the Greens today introduce same-sex marriage into the Parliament for the 17th time since 2004, ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton said it was time for them to start engaging the arguments instead of name-calling.
“Adam Bandt’s labelling of three parliamentarians ‘bigots’ simply because they are standing up for marriage between one man and one woman is a new low in Australian politics …
Mr Shelton said the Turnbull Government’s peoples’ vote on marriage to be held after the election should be conducted in a respectful manner where both sides were free to speak without fear.
“Mr Bandt should apologise to his parliamentary colleagues and the millions of Australians who will always believe that marriage is between one man and one woman.”
Australian Christian Lobby
The ACL is of course well-known for spreading Christian love and making respectful, reasonable and sensible arguments.
A classic example of the ACL’s idea of a respectful argument was a disastrous attempt in 2012 by the ex-head of the ACL, Jim Wallace, in which he publicly argued that it was healthier to be a smoker than gay.
I think we’re going to owe smokers a big apology when the homosexual community’s own statistics for its health – which it presents when it wants more money for health – are that it has higher rates of drug-taking, of suicide, it has the life of a male reduced by up to 20 years …
The whole affair blew up in the ACL’s face when it was immediately highlighted that this false proposition has been circulating around for well over a decade. It is raised time-and-time again by anti-LGBTI groups, and it is just a variation on the tired, old disingenuous and scientifically discredited approach of comparing homosexuality to various substance addictions, from alcoholism to drug addiction and the occasional release of some utterly unfounded ‘statistics’ on the health dangers of homosexuality.
The sources of these ‘statistics’ are generally the same few disreputable anti-LGBTI individuals or organisations, that devote their lives to producing ‘evidence’ that homosexuality is an ‘unhealthy lifestyle’. These ‘statistics’ have been already shown to be completely incorrect, without any scientific foundation and even downright fraudulent in some cases, or shown to be based on old, outdated studies completely taken out of context to arrive at contrived and false conclusions presented as facts.
The so-called ‘Gay Obituary Study’, on which Jim Wallace is believed to have relied on to make his particular assertion, conducted by Paul Cameron, the President of the anti-LGBTI Family Research Institute, has been thoroughly discredited and does not comply with any basic scientific standards. It is of significant relevance that the Family Research Institute is designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Centre, and Paul Cameron himself has been dropped by the American Psychological Association from its membership in 1983 for a violation of the Preamble to the Ethical Principles of Psychologists.
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The ACL is also behind the so-called ‘Australian Marriage Forum,’ which produces anti-marriage equality ads and campaigns.
The ACL’s opposition to the LGBTI community doesn’t end with its campaign against marriage equality. It also targets vulnerable LGBTI youth, by attacking the Safe Schools Coalition Australia (SSCA).
The SSCA is a national organisation set up to help schools be safer and more inclusive for same-sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse students, school staff and families. They are dedicated to creating environments where all students, teachers and families can feel safe and be themselves.
Among the many services the SSCA provides perhaps the most important is the resources and support they provide for young people who want to create positive change in their schools and need support to do so. They enable and support such students to organise activities, events and groups, such as gay-straight alliances, in their schools to actively challenge homophobia and transphobia and create the kind of culture that nurtures and supports all students, regardless of their sexuality and gender identity. This is known as the Safe Schools program.
Among many other respectable and mainstream organisations, Beyond Blue, Australia’s leading mental health support organisation, works closely with the SSCA because they identified the significant effects homophobic and transphobic bullying has on the mental health of the LGBTI community, including LGBTI youth.
Homosexuality does not cause mental health problems – bullying, homophobia, transphobia, social exclusion and anti-LGBTI violence does.
The ACL has been maliciously accusing the Safe Schools program of promoting ‘radical sexual experimentation’, by encouraging the acceptance of gender and sexual diverse children. Organisations such as the ACL tend to deny even the existence of transgender people, and consider the concept a mere social construct, which is perhaps one of the most psychologically harmful approach to transgender children.
The main ammunition of the ACL, the AMF, and similar religious anti-gay organisations, ranges from innuendo to misinformation and malicious lies, but they dare to call for a ‘respectful debate’. While they may think they are ‘entitled’ to their beliefs and opinions, which is in itself debatable, they are certainly not entitled to their own facts.
Beliefs and opinions in the absence of scientifically tested and verifiable evidence are just plain old bigotry and prejudice.
On the other hand, if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck, ACL.