Last updated: 1 July 2016
On 2 July we will know whether a plebiscite on marriage equality will take place in Australia.
If Labor wins government, Bill Shorten had given an undertaking that his government would legislate marriage equality within the first 100 days of the new parliament. While recent polls have been showing an improvement in Labor’s electoral fortunes, only a brave or loyal person would bet on Labor at the upcoming election.
If the Coalition retains government we will likely face a divisive plebiscite on the issue – unless Malcolm Turnbull finds the strength to shed his predecessor’s reactionary agenda, and becomes the progressive conservative leader we always presumed he would be.
However, in light of recent polls this is highly unlikely, because while the Coalition looks likely to get across the line, it is predicted to find itself in a weakened parliamentary position. If that happens, Malcolm Turnbull will be reliant, more than ever, on the right-wing reactionaries of the Coalition if he is to have any hope of hanging on to his leadership post-election. Sadly for the LGBTI community, sabotaging marriage equality is a core component of the conservative social agenda of those right-wing reactionaries. Many of those members of the Coalition already indicated they will continue to vote against marriage equality in parliament, regardless of the outcome of the proposed, legally non-binding plebiscite.
Ironically, Malcolm Turnbull proving subservient to their reactionary agenda since becoming leader nine months ago, and failing to show leadership on a number of social and other issues, as anticipated by many Australians, is the likely cause of the Coalition’s slip in the polls.
Of course the Coalition promised us a civilised and respectful debate when the plebiscite goes ahead under their plan. Presumably as civilised and respectful as the debate which preceded the destruction of the Safe Schools anti-bullying program, designed to provide a safe, accepting environment for LGBTI students …
I know that a plebiscite designed to deny me and many other Australians a marriage certificate will instead license hate speech to those who need little encouragement.
Mr Turnbull – and many commentators on this subject – don’t understand that for gay and lesbian Australians hate speech is not abstract.
Opponents of marriage equality already use words that hurt.
And words aren’t the only weapons wielded by some of those who harbour animosity towards gay and lesbian people.
Assaults – and worse – are not unknown in Australia, even today.
Many gay and lesbian people don’t hold hands on the street because they don’t know what reaction they’ll get.
Some hide who they are for fear of the consequences at home, at work and at school.
Not one straight politician advocating a plebiscite on marriage equality knows what that’s like.
What it’s like to live with the casual and deliberate prejudice that some still harbour.
I oppose a plebiscite because I don’t want my relationship – my family – to be the subject of inquiry, of censure, of condemnation, by others.
I don’t want other relationships, and other families, to be targeted either.
Lionel Murphy Memorial Lecture, Labor Senator Penny Wong (21 June 2016)
Consequently, I decided to have a closer look at comments made by members of the Coalition, and other opponents of the LGBTI community and marriage equality, so far this year. Following the recent tragic events that unfolded in Orlando, Florida, I think it’s very important we keep our political, religious, and community leaders accountable for their statements, and the consequences of the messages they send to their communities.
The elephant in the room
Since I raised the Orlando Pulse nightclub massacre in this context, I will address the proverbial elephant in the room first.
Yes, the Orlando massacre was carried out by a young Muslim man. A young Muslim man who appears to have been violently conflicted about his own sexuality, suffered from internalised homophobia, and may have experienced serious mental health and anger management issues, to which anti-gay religious teachings would have highly likely contributed.
Sacramento Baptist Pastor Roger Jimenez’s sermon on the Orlando massacre drew a lot of attention recently (the original video posted by his church had been removed by YouTube because it violated its hate-speech policy)
And yes, some Muslim clerics say hateful and ignorant things about LGBTI people, just as some of their fellow Christian leaders.
However, Muslim clerics are not the ones who have the ear of Australian politicians, or influence Australian public policy that limits the equality of LGBTI citizens.
‘The sodomites are more dangerous to America and its wellbeing than the jihadis, and they are … they are attacking our children,’ says notoriously homophobic New York Pastor James David Manning of the ATLAH Church in Harlem (the relevant section starts at 2:50)
In Australia, and in other Western democracies, that privilege belongs to, and frequently abused by, the main Christian denominations, the Catholic, Anglican, and evangelical churches, and Christian anti-gay hate groups such as the so-called Australian Christian Lobby and Marriage Alliance.
Pastor Roger Jimenez and James David Manning above are not ‘lone loons’ in evangelical circles. Pastor Donnie Romero of the Stedfast Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, is proudly praying ‘God will finish the job that that man started’ and for the survivors of the Orlando massacre to … die (the relevant section starts at 0:50)
Yes, some Muslim clerics travel and spread their message of hate and ignorance, endangering the life and safety of LGBTI people around the world – and so do Western Christian leaders …
Pastor Steven Anderson of the Tempe Faithful Word Baptist Church celebrates the deaths of ‘fifty sodomites’
While free speech is inarguably a cornerstone of our liberal, secular democracy, the freedom to engage in a public debate comes with a corresponding responsibility to be factual, honest, and truthful, and consequences for knowingly, and deliberately spreading unsubstantiated, hateful lies and misinformation.
Orlando church displays ‘God’s wrath may be getting started to fall on the gays‘ sign following the Orlando massacre
Now back to our locally grown bigotry, hate and homophobia, which often appear to be modelled on the latest American trends in bigotry, hate and homophobia.
I shall leave it to you, the reader, to decide how civilised and respectful, or factual, honest, and truthful, the following comments are …
The above are the leaflets designed to ‘educate and inform’ the public by opponents of the LGBTI community and marriage equality in a ‘civilised and respectful’ manner … but wait, there is more:
Nationals MP Andrew Broad compares same-sex marriage to two rams having sex …
In the 6 February print edition of Sunraysia Daily, the paper quoted the MP’s curious take on gay sex:
I can put the rams in a paddock and they might mount one another but no lambs will come out.
Charmed I’m sure …
Coalition backbencher George Christensen compares the Safe Schools anti-bullying program to pedophile grooming
On 25 February, George Christensen said this in parliament, among other things … many other things:
If parents knew their children were being exposed to this type of material, they would probably not let them go to school. If someone proposed exposing a child to this material, the parents would probably call the police because it sounds a lot like the grooming work that a sexual predator might undertake.
And make no mistake, the attacks on Safe Schools and LGBTI youth are intricately linked to conservative opposition to marriage equality, and the mere audacity of LGBTI people to exist and be increasingly visible, and the health and safety of LGBTI youth is being maliciously and recklessly compromised as a mere ‘practice run’ to an all out anti-marriage equality and anti-LGBTI campaign leading up to the proposed plebiscite.
Coalition backbencher Peter Abetz says Safe Schools is a militant gay ploy
The West Australian reported in March that, while speaking to Liberal MPs at Parliament House in Canberra, Peter Abetz described the Safe Schools program as:
… little more than a gay, lesbian, transgender lifestyle promotion program.
The militant gay lesbian lobby is trying to get this into our schools to ‘normalise’ what they consider the LGBTI agenda.
Coalition Senator Cory Bernardi accuses the Safe Schools program of ‘bullying’ heterosexual children, and fears for woman’s children because she supports program
Senator Bernardi has been particularly busy opposing the Safe Schools program, and marriage equality over the years, going as far in the past as drawing a connection between marriage equality and bestiality.
In February The Advertiser reported that, Mr William Russell, a News Corp Pride of Australia medal winner for his work in supporting bullied gay and transgender teens, wrote to Cory Bernardi saying he was ‘unfit for Parliament’ based on his opposition to the Safe Schools program and his views on same-sex marriage. Senator Bernardi was having none of Mr Russell’s ‘nonsense’ and responded in writing:
Bullying isn’t something confined to homosexuals yet you are encouraging a program that actually bullies heterosexual children into submission for the gay agenda.
On 21 March, Cory Bernardi also expressed concerns about the children of a woman who wrote to him about his opposition to the Safe Schools anti-bullying program, so much so he sent her quite a nasty email to that effect.
Previously, Senator Bernardi described the program in laughably outlandish terms, signalling his hopelessly dated ideology and confused terminology, as children being indoctrinated into a ‘Marxist agenda of cultural relativism,’ yet he continues to be taken seriously for reasons that remain inexplicable.
Coalition Senator Eric Abetz welcomes changes to Safe Schools’ ‘sexuality agenda in the Marxist cause’
It wasn’t about bullying, it was about some sexuality agenda in the Marxist cause, and frankly mums and dads didn’t want that.
Senator Abetz clearly received Senator Bernardi’s ‘Marxist indoctrination’ memo.
Unsurprisingly, Senator Abetz is also on the record as a strong opponent of marriage equality, and is one of those members of the Coalition who made it clear that he, and other members of the Coalition, would not be bound by a plebiscite outcome favourable to marriage equality.
… everyone knows my view is very strongly that a marriage between a man and a woman is the foundational institution for socialising the next generation. And every member of parliament will make up his or her mind after the plebiscite is held.
Lyle Shelton of the Australian Christian Lobby compares support for marriage equality to the rise of fascism in Nazi Germany
On 1 June Lyle Shelton, writing on the Australian Christian Lobby’s blog, said the following:
Changing the definition of marriage to entrench motherless and fatherlessness in public policy and teaching our kids their gender is fluid should be opposed.
The cowardice and weakness of Australia’s “gatekeepers” is causing unthinkable things to happen, just as unthinkable things happened in Germany in the 1930s.
Perhaps we have moved beyond cowardice to complicity.
This latest line of attack on marriage equality in Australia, a method borrowed from American anti-gay hate groups, also led to the invitation of Eric Metaxas to speak at the 2016 National Conference of the ACL in April. In the past, Eric Metaxas had repeatedly drawn comparisons between the acceptance of marriage equality and the rise of fascism in Nazi Germany.
Sadly our very own Commonwealth Treasurer, Coalition MP Scott Morrisson, thought it appropriate to share the stage with Mr Metaxas at the ACL National Conference.
In an attack on those same-sex couples who choose to start a family, Lyle Shelton and the ACL have also repeatedly suggested that same-sex marriage will create ‘another Stolen Generation’ of children.
Mildura Mayor on Safe Schools: ‘garbage being shoved down the throats of our school children … championed by those promoting peadophilia’
On 9 June, Glenn Milne, the Mayor of Mildura posted a message on his Facebook page, clearly fed up with the Safe Schools program. He noted ‘enough is enough.’ The post appears to have been deleted since.
I agree though, enough is enough of his brand of vile hate and homophobia:
It is of significance in the context that Mr Milne reportedly belongs to the evangelical, pentecostal Red Cliffs Christian Fellowship Inc., which appears to be a branch of the so-called Christian Revival Crusade movement, leading to the reasonable conclusion that his public comments are highly likely influenced by Biblical views of homosexuality.
Diane Teasdale, independent candidate, really tells us what she thinks about Safe Schools and marriage equality
Diane Teasdale, a former candidate for the ultra-nationalist Australia First Party, now running as an independent for the seat of Murray in northern Victoria, saw it fit to post the following to Facebook on 18 June:
This is not the first time Ms Teasdale made the news. Back in 2005, The Age reported on Ms Teasdale as the ‘Shepparton-based leader of the party that mobilised 120 people to attend Sunday’s violent rally in Cronulla’. In that report she was quoted as saying that ‘the ugly beach scenes were part of Australians wanting to “reclaim the agenda and say we have a culture”.’
Coalition Treasurer, Scott Morrison laments how he too had faced ‘hatred and bigotry’ for his conservative views on marriage equality
In response to Labor Senator Penny Wong’s impassioned Lionel Murphy Memorial Lecture at the Australian National University, Coalition Treasurer Scott Morrison lamented the ‘hatred and bigotry’ aimed at him over his opposition to marriage equality:
Frankly people who have very strong religious views, they have also been subject to … quite dreadful hate speech and bigotry as well.
I understand the concerns Penny is raising, I know it from personal experience having been exposed to that sort of hatred and bigotry for the views I’ve taken from others who have a different view to me …
ABC Radio National Breakfast with Fran Kelly (22 June 2016) starting at 10:33
Where do I start?!
Being born LGBTI is not ‘a different view’, it’s who we are.
If Mr Morrison really can’t see the difference between being challenged over hateful and ignorant ‘opinions’ based on his beliefs, no matter how cherished those beliefs may be to him, and being excluded, vilified, discriminated against, bullied, beaten up, and sometimes even worse, over who you were born to be, in the name of those very beliefs, the debate about a reasoned debate is already over.
Mr Morrison seems to overlook that tens of millions of people around the world have been able to reconcile that same belief with the acceptance and love of LGBTI people, from Ireland to the United Kingdom, France, Spain, and New Zealand, just to mention a few of the comparable progressive, liberal democracies where marriage equality already exists.
Evangelical Christian churches preach gay hate in New South Wales public schools
SBS News reported on 28 June that it had obtained audio evidence of evangelical Christian churches delivering homophobic sermons to public school students in NSW.
The sermons, delivered by members of the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches, make references to the ‘death penalty’ as a punishment for the ‘sin’ of homosexuality, homosexuality being ‘one of the things that send people to hell’, and the gay ‘lifestyle’ being not a ‘happy’ one.
Even though books have been written and studies have been conducted to show that the gay lifestyle is not a happy one, people persist in the rejection of God. Let me encourage you that if you are in any doubt about how destructive that sexual sin is … have a look at the research and I can, I can point it out to you.
The above selection is a mere highlight of, or ‘best of’, or more appropriately ‘worst of’, comments made by opponents of the LGBTI community and marriage equality, because they engage in the subject matter with such frequency, it is practically impossible to capture every hateful uttering they make.
Sometimes it seems they think of nothing else but … gay sex.
The fact is that most religions are still largely hostile towards LGBTI people, and continue spreading the ignorant message that there is something ‘wrong’ with them, and their loving relationships, and that they are a ‘sick abomination’, with impunity.
What do you think that does to the mental wellbeing, and general health, of LGBTI people?!
These certainly appear to be some of the loudest religious voices in public, and in the media. These voices inevitably create a hostile environment where anti-gay extremism and hate thrive, and feel validated, accepted and mainstream.
Society at large continues to be complicit by tolerating this appalling behaviour by politicians, and religious institutions and leaders, due to a fallacious understanding of what ‘freedom of religion‘ entails.
Consequently, there will always be some in the community who will succumb to the pressure of hate and self-loathing, and suicides and other violent tragedies will continue to ensue.
The people who spread those ignorant messages, and the society which accommodates and tolerates them, must accept responsibility for creating an environment that triggers such tragedies.
If you received any interesting mail, leaflets, flyers, or pamphlets, in your mail box on the subject of LGBTI people or marriage equality, or noticed something else I may have missed, please email me at YouHaveGotHateMail@thevuepost.com.