Tony Abbott

Why I don’t want to hear from Tony Abbott about Islam

As a gay man I’m very aware of the existential threat radical, extremist Islam represents to me personally, and to the LGBTI community generally.

I’m very aware of the countless executions of gay men by Daesh in the past couple of years, in the most barbaric fashion, by throwing them off roofs and stoning them to death, and cutting them down with machine gun fire.

However, I’m also very aware of the existential threat posed to me as a gay man, and to the larger LGBTI community, by the radical, extremist elements of all religions.

Of course radical, extremist religious elements are not just a threat to the LGBTI community, but also to women and the very foundations of our liberal, progressive and secular democracy.

Tony Abbott, while Prime Minister of Australia, ran an about as fundamentalist Christian government as possible within the confines of a liberal, progressive and secular democracy. He has done so despite his promises prior to the 2013 election, that his staunchly Catholic faith would not influence his decisions as Prime Minister, and he would govern for all Australians.

He arguably misled the nation.

Abbott’s own selective version of the Catholic faith, which is more in line with the George Pell-type conservatives of the inner sanctum of the Catholic Church and the Coalition, than most lay Catholics, permeated every decision he made, and everything he did.

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His close friendship with the disgraced ex-Archbishop of Sydney, George Pell, was certainly a sign of things to come.

“Abbott’s Catholicism is that of his friend and confessor George Pell, not that of Pope Francis.”
Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the Christian right, The Saturday Paper (29 August 2015)

Although, the Pope is hardly all peaches and cream for the gays either.

Abbott’s handling of the marriage equality issue highlighted his inability to govern a liberal, secular democratic nation, his unwillingness to be a leader for all Australians, and that his allegiance to his particularly conservative and highly selective interpretation of the Catholic faith came first and foremost.

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The reality of my everyday life as a gay man in contemporary Australia is that it has been, and it continues to be, far more affected on a practical level through discrimination and exclusion caused by Christian/Catholic bigotry, than any threat by Islamist extremism.

When it came to national security, Abbott’s Prime Ministership was characterised by nationalistic jingoism, macho bravado, antagonism and practically goading unstable elements of the Muslim community to respond.

It looks like Abbott is intent on continuing his misguided anti-terrorism crusade, despite the public humiliation and rebuff he was served by the nation after two years of blunders and misjudgments. It sounds like Bronwyn Bishop will be joining him in the good fight, after reportedly she told supporters she feels she has been exonerated from her ChopperGate scandal and feels compelled to stay in parliament to ‘fight terrorism’ … We can sleep easy now, knowing Tony the Brawler and Bronny Copter are standing guard, protecting us from the scourge of terrorism.

Right-wing religious, social conservatives are a special breed, and if hypocrisy was a renewable energy source, tapping them could solve the climate change problem overnight.

“The one thing we need to be very careful not to do, and I’m sure Tony agrees with this, is play into the hands of our enemies and seek to tag all Muslims with the responsibility for the crimes of a few.”
Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister of Australia

For such a religious, right-wing conservative as Abbott to dare to call for another religion to reform, and to reign in its extremists, rains down hypocrisy on the land and defies common sense. Abbott is one of the least qualified persons in Australian public life to call for the reform of another religion.

Sadly, there is an audience for Abbott’s message in the Australian community, but it’s the same audience Donald Trump is capturing in the United States.

‘We should be ready to proclaim the clear superiority of our culture to one that justifies killing people in the name of God,’ said Abbott in his controversial opinion piece, and complemented that wisdom with pious self-aggrandisement on a Sky News interview.

Just as Malcolm Turnbull started repairing the damage caused to our relationship with Indonesia under Abbott’s leadership, Abbott’s latest comments attracted immediate rebuke from Indonesia, calling them ‘unhelpful’ and ‘divisive’.

Abbott would be well-advised to be more humble and a little circumspect about his pride in the Catholic/Christian ‘culture’, which is still trying to desperately cover up and deny decades of insidious child sexual abuse, and justify appalling discrimination against the LGBTI community in the name of ‘god’.

Admittedly, Catholics and Christians are not openly chasing and physically harming gay people in Western democracies to the extent done in some parts of the Middle East.

But Catholics and Christians won’t be handed an award for not being as physically violent towards gay people as Daesh, because they continue to cause plenty of harm to the LGBTI community.

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Christian groups also continue to subject gay people to so-called ‘conversion therapy‘, which is horrendous, abusive and has been shown to be utterly ineffective. And then there are those good Christians who are barely held back by our liberal and secular institutions and the rule of law, from executing their own deadly ‘solution’ to homosexuality:

The Catholics and Christians of Africa, where open hostility and violence against the LGBTI community is rampant, could also benefit from Abbott’s crusade to bring reform to religion.

But first and foremost Abbott overlooked the biggest religious reform project of all: himself.

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