No hate

Was the Coalition clueless or malicious when it opened Pandora’s box on the LGBTI community?

Despite the many advances in the social acceptance of LGBTI people over the past few decades, the LGBTI community had always been the target of bigoted, uninformed shrills.

Shrills who, despite our growing scientific understanding of homosexuality, and social progress, continue to attack and denigrate the LGBTI community in any way they can: misinformation, falsehoods, and outright lies.

With their bigotry and hate festering under the surface, it takes very little for them to bubble to the surface.

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Unfortunately, many of the shrills have a ready-made public platform as community and religious leaders, and politicians, to spew their hate unabated, and with impunity.

When their misinformation, falsehoods, and outright lies are challenged by the LGBTI community, and its allies, they scream free speech or religious freedom, or both, and play the victim card.

Meanwhile, judging by their actions to date, they are not shy and they will go for the jugular, including LGBTI children, youth, and families.

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Sadly, marriage equality, but in particular Tony Abbott’s toxic marriage equality plebiscite idea was the latest trigger for that bigotry and hate to bubble to the surface.

The idea that the Australian public is entitled to pass judgment on LGBTI people, and their relationships, served as a confirmation to some members of society that they are entitled to bring their prejudices, that have over time had become simply unacceptable, right back into the open.

Leading up to the last election, at which the proposed plebiscite was part of the Coalition’s official policy platform, we experienced a taste of things to come.

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The proposal of the plebiscite signalled to the bigots, haters, and homophobes that it is not just acceptable, but a ‘democratic entitlement’ to discuss what they really think of LGBTI people. The government even offered to provide taxpayer funding to the tune of $7.5 million for their messages.

Swinburne University poster
Neo-Nazi poster at Swinburne University
calling for the murder of gay and transgender people (10 October 2016)

Even the media joined the lynch mob, in particular the de facto publishing arm of the conservative faction of the Coalition, News Corp Australia.

Publications such as The Australian, The Daily Telegraph, and the Herald Sun have long been known for promoting a reactionary view of culture and society, but over the past 12 to 18 months they have outdone themselves by publishing shrill, homophobic, anti-LGBTI articles, practically weekly, if not daily.

The king and queen of uninformed shrills, Andrew Bolt and Miranda Devine led the hateful charge, attacking LGBTI youth, in particular transgender youth, the Safe Schools program, marriage equality, and the LGBTI community generally.

They were further assisted by the opinion pieces of members of the Coalition, the Australian Christian Lobby, religious leaders, and other News Corp columnists such as Jennifer Oriel – fear-mongering opinion pieces full of assertions and innuendo, presented as undeniable facts.

Some of these ‘columnists’ had sunk as low as backing up their lies with discredited, biased professionals with a track record of anti-LGBTI activities and views, including Paul McHugh, Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical School, and Patrick Parkinson, Professor of Law at Sydney University, and faux-professional institutions, such as the American College of Pediatricians, classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a ‘hate group’, without shame, or moral or journalistic reservations.

The real American peak professional body for pediatricians is the American Academy of Pediatrics which, relying on best current scientific evidence, offers support to transgender children, marriage equality, same-sex parenting, and evidence-based sex education.

And each time the lies and misleading statements in their opinion pieces are highlighted and challenged, they cocoon themselves in a comfortable bubble of denial and ignorance.

While thankfully the horrid plebiscite idea is now dead and buried, Pandora’s box had been well and truly opened on the LGBTI community by a careless, or malicious, Coalition, and they should be held responsible for the consequences of their actions.

By unnecessarily promising the people of Australia a voice on marriage equality, they not just awakened, but legitimised that section of society that loves nothing more than to judge and denigrate LGBTI people.

We witnessed the media and political shrills getting more and more agitated as their hopes for a tax-payer funded homophobic hate-fest went up in smoke.

But now they had a taste of a newfound legitimacy, and it will take a while to get the bigoted and homophobic genie back into the bottle and get back to where we were before this malicious, faux-democratic toxicity was unleashed upon the LGBTI community by the Coalition, and Australia’s reactionaries.

To answer my question, some in the Coalition are downright malicious, while others are just clueless, or political opportunists.

Cory Bernardi, George Christensen, Eric Abetz, and Tony Abbott, to mention a few of the main players in the plebiscite fiasco, practically drip malice and venom against the LGBTI community every time they open their mouths, while Warren Entsch is just clueless, but admittedly he did what he thought was best, and Malcolm Turnbull proved himself to be the ultimate, hypocritical political opportunist, who seems to have sold out just about all his principles for the Prime Ministership.

However, as usual I encourage forgiveness for those who continue to harm us, because they don’t know any better.

But, I also encourage you to never forget these episodes of Australia’s cultural, political, and social history, and hold those responsible accountable for their actions, and stand strong when history repeats itself, as it often does.

For now, it’s time to renew the fight for a free vote on marriage equality in Parliament, no matter how hard that may be with the Coalition in power, which is effectively government by blackmail – not a fertile ground for good public policy.

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