Extending 18C the Racial Discrimination Act is a bad idea

 In the midst of debate on changing 18C of Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act 1975, the Labor Party have said they wanted the law extended. They want the LGBTQ+ community, people with a disability as well as racial minorities to be protected. So, it would be an offence to offend, insult, humiliate people on basis of race, ethnic background, disability and sexual orientation.

As someone with a disability and someone who isn’t straight, I have one thing to say on the proposal – GOD PLEASE NO!!!!

No, no, no, no, no. i can’t say this enough! The way 18C has been used already has proven to be disastrous: the students from Queensland University of Technology and the case against the late The Australian cartoonist Bill Leak suggest, while defendants were not prosecuted, the law does more to destroy people’s reputations rather than actually making Australia a safe country for racial minorities – the original intent of the law.

 

One of the fears is that if 18C was extended, it will silence opponents of same – sex marriage. I get that this is an emotional issue to many in the LGBTQ+ community. But this isn’t the right way to go about it. This extension will not stop homophobes or racists. In fact, I fear it will only aggravate people, not win support for the people that are meant to be protected. Anti – discrimination measures brought into law by the Obama Administration in the U.S. has already backfired with anti – trans laws (e.g. HB in North Carolina), being put forward by hard-line Republicans across the country.

Meanwhile, in Australia, I fear that the Left and so – called LGBTQ+ allies should embrace for a similar pushback. The latest events, such as the Cooper’s Brewery/ Bible society backlash, I believe that would have only confirmed to opponents exactly why LGBTQ+ people SHOULDN’T get legal rights. They won’t be won over if they feel their rights to freedom of speech, conscience, etc are being threatened. Also, there will be an increase – not decrease – support for policies such as multiculturalism.

 

Personally, I say scrap 18C altogether and replace it with an anti – hate crimes Act. This can be used to combat things like Antisemitism, which seems to be at alarming levels around the world now. There is likely going to be a case in Canada real soon where an Imam is going to be charged when he preached that Jews should be killed, (by the way, the controversial Imam has  also received condemnation from other Muslims). Along with anti – defamation and possibly anti – discrimination laws in regarding services, (well, that’s another can of worms for another day), that’s all minorities should need. I think the majority of liberals and conservatives can agree with anti – hate crime measures. Nobody has a right to physically harm or threaten another person.

 

While safety does need to be considered, stifling thought and speech has proven to do more harm than good. Too often, laws like 18C have left people feeling silenced and frustrated, rather than help people its allegedly supposed to protect. Maybe it’s time for a rethink.

Do you support a change to Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act? Do you think such laws should be scrapped or extended to protect other groups? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cooper’s Brewery receive backlash over gay marriage debate

 

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QANTAS boss, Alan Joyce has been a vocal supporter of same – sex marriage, despite public criticism.

Coopers Brewery have copped a whopping from same – sex marriage supporters after they agreed to have their product featured in Bible Society’s “Keeping it Light”, which was a debate on same – sex marriage. When they withdrew their support and reinstated their support for same – sex marriage, they got a backlash from conservatives.  The debate was between Goldstein Liberal MP Tim Wilson and former SAS officer and Liberal MP for Canning, Andrew Hastie.

I saw a segment of the debate on same – sex marriage on YouTube between Hastie, a conservative Christian and Wilson, who is openly gay and who describes himself as agnostic and on a “journey” to find the truth about god. Wilson supports a change in the Marriage Act to allow same – sex couples, while Hastie firmly believes in maintaining the Marriage Act as it is. After a backlash from same – sex marriage supporters, Managing Director Dr. Tim Cooper offered a public apology to same – sex marriage supporters and reinforced the company’s support for same – sex marriage. After their apology, Cooper’s Brewery was slammed by conservatives by backing down.

 

I saw the debate on YouTube and I think both Wilson and Hastie should be applauded for their conduct. They were both very respectful, while both articulating their views. Neither lead personal attacks and Hastie never demeaned Wilson because of his sexuality and spoke respectfully of his long-term partner. Both sides of the marriage debate could learn from this. For same – sex marriage supporters, not all opponents are the enemy. You can still prefer maintaining the Marriage Act without attacking the LGBTQ+ community. That’s how a debate should be. Two people putting their points across, while no one feels threatened or demeaned.

 

I get whey people are concerned. I get the pain of having your lives constantly debated, sometimes unfairly. I never once thought that if the plebiscite was going ahead last year that the process would be a walk in the park for members of the LGBTQ+ community. Therefore I think one of the biggest failures of the Coalition government – with not a lot of help from Labor, mind you – was to ensure that supports were in place to help LGBTQ+ community and families in distress when things got too much. I also didn’t like the way that some tried to back pedal anti – discrimination laws while the debate was going on.

On the other hand, I genuinely believed that not having a debate, especially on issues like free speech and the impact on same – sex marriage opponents would only backfire on the LGBTQ+ community in the long term, as it has in Brazil  and the U.S. My fears have lessened in the past couple of weeks, especially after “Married at First Sight” controversy which saw two Jehovah Witness parents rejecting their gay son’s wedding. I remember the explosion on Facebook in support for the couple who married in Florida. I thought that was so touching. Some of these comments were made by people I know personally, as well as on news articles. I take this as a good sign – that people are willing to call out homophobia when they see or hear it.

Since the spat over Cooper’s, I’ve also been thinking of whether major companies should be involved in politics. It’s not just Cooper’s that have copped criticism. Alan Joyce from Qantas, a long-time supporter of same – sex marriage,  has copped criticism from conservatives for making their support for same – sex marriage known and linking it to their brand.

 

International Women’s Day and… traffic lights and other trivialities.

So, it’s International Women’s Day. A day that is supposed to celebrate and advocate for women. But now, it’s turned into a trivial laughing stock, at least here in Australia. Example: the Andrews Labor Government of Victoria has this bright idea (sarcasm in case you didn’t know) about changing traffic lights across Melbourne because they allegedly spark an “unconscious bias”. I kid you not. These things are causing sexist attitudes, apparently.

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Memo to the Andrews Government, women do wear pants, you know!

Secondly, the ABC has come up with the idea that today, all the news, current affairs and radio stations are filled with all women. Men, apparently, get the day off. Now, I’ve talked in the past about women in the media and controversies that have occurred over the years about women over a certain age (usually 40’s and above), being replaced by younger women or men. I understand why that ruffled feathers, although, luckily, I haven’t been hearing about that happening lately. But what does this achieve, really? Supposedly it all will go back to normal tomorrow anyway.

It’s this sort of trivial garbage that scares millennial women off feminism. Feminism doesn’t seem to be about fighting for equality anymore, nor is it about confronting issues facing women either here or abroad. For example, former Chief of Staff, Peta Credlin has repeatedly condemned underage girls who get married off to older men in some Muslim communities. Child marriages have also known to happen in the U.S. as recently as 2010 and, while it’s “rare”, Pew Research acknowledged that 5 in every 1,000 of girls between fifteen and seventeen. While rare, as of 2016, it is legal in all American states. In most states, 16 and 17 – year – old teenagers can marry and in Massachusetts and New Hampshire,  children can marry as young as 12. In some states, such as Florida, a minor can get a court’s permission to marry if a party is pregnant. Fortunately, last year, Virginia finally outlawed the practice. Let’s hope other states follow suit soon. As for Australians, migrants, as well as citizens need to know it’s condemned here. Every time it happens, the perpetrators need to be prosecuted legally and face fierce criticism by society.

The issue of domestic violence is raised quite a bit. We should stick to that – make sure that there are adequate services to help women (and men) leave abusive marriages and relationships. But then again, this issue has also been hijacked by ideologues and conflicting claims about the rate often takes all the time, rather than funding services. Case in point from a few years ago:

Not to mention that domestic violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women is rarely discussed by women who claim to be “feminists”, including those in the media. Not to mention the ignorance around Keysar Trad’s comments a few weeks ago on “The Bolt Report”. Look, domestic violence needs to be condemned. All of it. Full stop. No ideology, religious, political or otherwise should stop us from condemning domestic or other violence and helping victims find safety and justice.

There is a lot that young girls face too. When I was researching for my last blog post, I was horrified at the number of links to stories surrounding severe  abuse of young girls I found. And that doesn’t take into account atrocities like female genital mutilation (FGM), which happens in the West too, by the way. A few days ago, wrote about the horrific number of trans women that have been murdered in the U.S. this year alone – and we’re not even a quarter into the year yet. More globally, Saudi Arabia has come under the spotlight when it was reported that two Pakistani trans women were beaten and tortured to death by Saudi police. Saudi police has since acknowledged that two trans women died in custody, but denies that they were tortured.

 

These sorts of issues are what should be talked about on a day like International Women’s Day – plus a lot more I didn’t mention that affect both cis women and trans women around the world. Society doesn’t need more token gestures by feminists for anyone else, for that matter. We need real change, both here and around the world. Unfortunately, I think culture wars and a lack of honesty prevents us from getting done what needs to be done to help women and their loved ones. I’m starting to get sick of it. Can we all forget the tokenism, forget political correctness and work out ways to help ALL people achieve their potential and live their lives in safety and fulfilment?

 

So, what do you think? Have you/ are you doing anything for International Women’s Day? Feel free to put your thoughts in the comments section. 

 

The truth about the ADF and Mardi Gras – or is it?

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On Monday, I wrote a post criticising the Australian Defence Force’s participation in the Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras on Saturday. This was in response to Miranda Devine’s opinion piece that was published in the Sunday Herald Sun the next day. I agreed with Devine on her concerns, about Section 83 of the Defence Act 1903 and the protocols. I also enforced criticism about how former army officers, including WA’s state Coalition MP, Andrew Hastie who was the former SAS officer who was dismissed after he advertised himself in uniform during WA’s State by – election in 2015. It didn’t make sense to me that Army Major, Bernie Gaynor was prevented from attending a pro – life march, and yet they still went to the Mardi Gras. Not to mention the modifying the Rising Sun badge, which is prohibited. So, I was with Devine on this one (I don’t agree with her a whole lot)…. now I’m not so sure.

After reading this counter – argument by Adam Bub on Mamamia makes me wonder whether I bought into the fear mongering of conservatives… again, when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights. If Bub is correct, then Devine left a whole lot of information out.

Counter argument about the accusation of ADF participating in a “party political” event:

Let’s get this straight: Victims groups like the LGBTI community are afforded privileges in Devine’s words.

On this point, I get sick of conservatives like Devine spouting that line. I’ve written extensively in the past three years about many issues LGBTQ+ people face, including in the Western world. Coming out as LGBTQ+ only to be ostracised by family members or friends. It’s not “privileged” to come out, only to have your faith community turn their back on you, ostracise you, or psychologically and spiritually abuse you into thinking you can change your orientation and/or gender identity if you try hard enough (note: none of this has happened to me, but I’ve read countless stories about it happening to others). This has only been dealt with on a national scale recently. Let’s hope it never happens again. LGBTQ+ people in the West that come from Arabic or Muslim families also have extensive hurdles they face.

I wrote about the horrific murder rate of transwomen of colour (TWOC) and homelessness rate and the hardships faced by LGBTQ+ people in the U.S. I was (and still) am apalled at how Australia has no official data on the rate of LGBTQ+ homeless youth in Australia and how trans people in particular find it difficult to get emergency accommodation. I’ve also written extensively for over three years about the alarming rate of bullying suffered by LGBTQ+ youth. No bullying should be tolerated, however, I can actually say from personal experience that when your attacked because of your sexuality, or perceived sexuality, there is a level of shame that comes along with it. There’s an extra layer of fear of being ostracised if you speak out. Then self – hatred starts. That’s a tough cycle to get out of. I’m not saying that all LGBTQ+ go through this and this was over ten years ago, but I think it may give insight into the impact on anti – LGBTQ+ bullying.

I could go on, but I think you get my point. While things have drastically improved over the years for LGBTQ+ people, that doesn’t mean work can’t be done. It also doesn’t mean that we can become complacent and let things slide down again.

 

Moving on. Devine also accused the ADF of modifying the Rising Sun lapel pin, which is against their protocol. Historian and researcher for the Defence LGBTI Information Service (DEFGLIS), Dr. Shirleen Robinson argues that the move was an important gesture:

This is particularly important because until 1992, lesbian and gay service personnel had to serve in silence,. knowing that if their sexuality was revealed, they faced discharge from the military.

On the Rising Sun badge which Devine said was modified:

It is also important to note that the rising sun itself was not modified on the badge worn in the Mardi Gras parade.

I saw the badge that Devine protested about in her piece and Dr. Robinson is right. The Rising Sun emblem itself wasn’t touched, coloured or altered in anyway.The rainbow was around the edge, not anywhere near the emblem. Also, why would a military personnel, such as the former Army in Chief David Morrison – despite all his flaws – go out of his way to break ADF protocol surrounding the badge?

I also want to point out that former Vietnam War veterans are apparently not united in condemning the ADF for their participation in the Mardi Gras and supporting LGBTQ+ rights, according to one of the comments:

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After reading the article above and researching for this post, I think I did jump on the outrage bandwagon too quickly… again. That’s if Bob’s right. Makes sense, to be honest. And, contrary to what Devine said, they didn’t breach Section 83 of the Defence Act 1903. To my understanding it’s unlawful for a non military personnel to display the military badges without expressed permission from the appropriate military bodies. That’s what I got from it when I was looking it up. By Dr. Robinson’s account, they didn’t break any protocol surrounding the displaying of the rising sun, either. The actual emblem itself wasn’t touched or modified.I think it’s a panic about the gay marriage debate, again. To be honest, I still don’t agree with what happened to Bernie Gaynor.

 

Who’s right? Can anyone from the ADF or with family/ friends from the ADF tell me who’s right here?

ADF servicemen at Mardi Gras – how it damages their morale and doesn’t help the LGBTQ community

6ee4e568-344e-4cf1-a929-94022f41ef15The Australian Defence Force (ADF) took part in this year’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras on Saturday night in Sydney. In the ‘Sunday Herald Sun’, columnist Miranda Devine attacked the move, (‘There is no pride in forcing soldiers to shoulder party politics’, pp. 54 – 55, 5 March, 2017). Devine argued that it went against their policy. To make matters worse, the soldiers had lapel pin modified with the rainbow flag placed on it. This, she argued was in breach of Section 83 of the Defence Act 1903. Instructions on how Rising Sun emblem is to be used and displayed is explained here.

Some servicemen are angered at the altering of the badge. Former Vietnam War serviceman, Charlie Lynn is one of them:

That’s the biggest insult I have ever seen to a badge that means so much to both serving and retired  veterans. It wasn’t designed to be a catalyst for social change. It’s a symbol of what we fought for, for freedom.

What’s more, servicemen and women are not allowed to attend partisan political events while in uniform. Some have defended the Mardi Gras participation as attending a ‘cultural’ event, rather than a political one. Anyone who tries to argue that the Mardi Gras is not political has rocks in their head. The whole point about the Mardi Gras is to fight for rights for LGBTQ people. For the last few years, same – sex marriage has been the hot – button issue, with countless floats displaying the issue. Many proponents of same – sex marriage, along with Labor and the Greens, want a vote in parliamentvto decide on whether or not to amend the Marriage Act, rather than have a public vote. What’s fanned flames evwn more is that servicemen have been sacked for promoting a party (Andrew Hastie as he campaigned for candidacy for Western Australia’s Liberal Party). Another servicemen, Bernie Gaynor was allegedky prohibited from attending a pro – life rally due to its political nature. It should be one rule for all. Either servicemen and women can attend political events while in uniform or they can’t. This does nothing to boost the ADF’s morale in my opinion. It only gives LGBTQ+ rights activists a bad name, too.

I have heard and read how the ADF should not take part in partisan politics. I agree. They fight for the freedom of all Australians, including those who don’t agree with same – sex marriage. If members wanted to participate in the parade, they could have without wearing the uniform. On their own accord. If a serviceman/ woman wants to attend a pro – life rally out of uniform, same thing. They should be able to go ahead. Or, all serving or past veterans should be able to wear their uniforms without any consequences at any political event. The way the ADF has handled this is nothing short of hypocritical.

Secondly, about the LGBTQ+ community – I keep saying this, we are not going to win hearts and minds doing what we’re doing. Major institutions like the ADF pressuring servicemen and women to attend the Mardi Gras and breaking their own protocol does not help the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, it just riles up the critics. For those who do support the LGBTQ+ community, thank you. For those who love and support LGBTQ+ family and friends, you are awesome. Please keep up what your doing. If ADF wants to make LGBTQ+ vets more welcome, that’s awesome. But PLEASE DON’T use the fight for our rights to tear your organisation apart. If it’s against your protocol to attend a political event in uniform, then, don’t pressure others to do exactly that. It doesn’t do anyone any good.

 

I think it’s time we step back, take a breath and start to build bridges rather than holding people captive because of what they believe. Also, again, an organisations stendards and protocols should not be compromised. Otherwise, the LGBTQ+ community will end up fighting a losing battle of our own.

 

 

 

Racial Discrimination Act: change? Scrap?

The raging debate over 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act is still still red hot to some commentators, especially Andrew Bolt. The case involving seven students from Queensland University of Technology – three of which were taken to court by Cindy Prior – after the students were told to leave a computer lab allegedly reserved for Aboriginal students. The boys protested on Facebook, calling it “fighting segregation with segregation” and one asking sarcastically where the “white supremacist” computers were. One of the defendants Callum Thwaites was also accused of using the “N” word, but has emphatically denied it.

While the case was dropped and Prior was demanded that she pay thousands in legal fees, which allegedly sent her bankrupt. While the defendants were ruled as being innocent of any crime, their careers have allegedly being trashed. According to Bolt, Alex Wood explained how his future had been badly damaged and his chosen career had been destroyed:

At that point in my life, it all sort of hit me at once. I was afraid. I felt that uni had been for nothing. I had studied quite hard and had a GPA of 6.3, and I thought that was going to go down the drain. I thought I was going to lose my job and potentially not be able to get a job after uni. I thought my friends would shun me if they thought I was racist. I honestly believe 18C was extremely close to ruining my life and still has the potential to do so.

There were absolutely no winners in this case. Reading about this case,  especially what Wood has said has made me change my mind about 18C. The fact it got as far as it did and had such devastating consequences on everyone involved.

There are three options that are often brought up when discussing this case and 18C – scrap the section, take the words “insult” and “offend” out of the section or leave it exactly how it is. I wonder if there could be another option – have a blanket anti – hate – crimes act that covers race, religion, sexuality,  gender identity, etc.Currently, Australia has a number of anti – discrimination acts, both State and Federal. Why not make it all one?

I would say too, that words like “offend” should be avoided. Why? Because they are too vague and open to interpretation. So what should an anti – hate crimes act entail. Well, quite simply, it should make it unlawful to attack someone because of race, gender, sexuality, etc. I also think that anti discrimination provisions for employers and services should remain. It’s just that, I believe that QUT case has proven that 18C doesn’t work. Even if you win, you lose. There needs to be a line drawn. There is no room for incitement to violence or deliberate discrimination or abuse in our society. However, what I find so heartbreaking is when well – meaning people are dragged through mud and the mud sticks no matter what they say. That’s what I think about the case against Andrew Bolt in 2011. I didn’t read the two articles that got him sued and were banned by the court, but I have since read his arguments since. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard Bolt being branded a racist. Last night on Sky’s ‘Paul Murray Live’, I saw a clip where Labor Senator, Sam Dastyari – who is Iranian born – ranted against changes to 18C. While he didn’t call Bolt by name, it was obvious, I think, that the tirade was partly aimed at him. Unsurprisingly, Murray condemned Dastyari’s speech.

I just don’t think 18C as it is is working. It may have had it’s place in 1975 when the Act was first introduced, but something has gone off. I think it needs to be mended so it can’t be open to interpretation as easy. Like I said, what about have a blanket anti – hate crimes Act instead plus workplace and services protections?

What do you think about 18C? Do you think it should be mended? Scrapped? To those who are in other countries, what anti – discrimination laws do you have? Do you think they work or are adequate? What changes would you like to see? I know these are quite a few full on questions. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments. 

The denial or rights to LGBTQ+ people and consequences

The backlash against the LGBTQ+ community in the U.S. has been quite significant. Most recently, former Olympian and transwoman Caitlyn Jenner has pleaded for Donald Trump to reverse the decision to introduce laws that will penalise schools for not demanding children use the toilets that match what they were assigned at birth. Jenner has labelled this move a “disaster”. Understandably, people aren’t embracing Jenner’s call. This is for I think two reasons. One, is the fact that Jenner endorsed Trump and the Republican Party. There’s another reason. Back in 2015, Jenner made her reluctance to accept the legalisation of same – sex marriage on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, admitting in the past, she flatly opposed it.

This sparked a furious backlash against Jenner, with allies to the LGBTQ+ community of Jenner of only supporting causes when they suited her.

 

 

The ‘bathroom bill’ debate must feel so dehumanising. The fact that where you can go to the TOILET is up for debate. Really.  Going to the TOILET has become a hot political issue. It’s ridiculous! I hate how you’ve been stigmatised; how a lot of scenarios have been fabricated by conservative groups and media outlets to make you out to be a predator. Ironically, trans people, especially youth and trans people of colour are particularly vulnerable to being sexually assaulted. Even school aged children who are trans are vulnerable to being victimised. Unfortunately, the issues of violence that trans people often face don’t stop there.

The murder rate of transwomen of colour this year alone (to the 17th of February), is beyond abhorrent. I wrote about the epidemic of LGBTQ+ homelessness and violence both in the U.S. and around the world earlier this year. I also wrote that there are currently no such statistics on the level of homelessness among LGBTQ+ people in Australia at present, which I find cowardly and appalling. The public should know the situation regarding LGBTQ+ homelessness.

The issue of rights to freedom of religion, conscience and speech are often brought up in these debates, with demands that bakers, celebrants and florists be allowed to turn away LGBTQ couples on religious or ‘moral’ grounds. This has extended even further. According to Washington Post, a paediatrician in Michigan refused to carry out a routine check up on a baby because the parents were lesbians. Luckily, another paediatrician was available. What if this happened in a small rural town where another paediatrician or GP wasn’t available? What if the baby had an infection or something else? I’m usually sceptical of slippery slope arguments,  but I’ve got to say, this can’t end well.

In my opinion, this boils down the one thing. It’s got nothing to do with religion, with beliefs or ‘moral grounds’. This is purely refusing to treat LGBTQ+ people as human. I’m surprised no one has learnt from history how that can go. Why do we still tolerate that today? I’m not saying that everyone against gay marriage is like that, but it’s a constant feeling I get when the debate arises. People seem to forget that these debates affect real people – and many times vulnerable people – in our community.

 

I just wish people would stop talking about LGBTQ+ rights as an inconvenience, considering the real human impact it can have. I’m not here to to slam anyone against gay marriage in Australia – to be honest the hostility surrounding opponents in the past has been just as revolting. What I want people to understand is when talking about these issues, forget about caricatures and stereotypes. These are real issues for real people. And please, PLEASE, be there for any LGBTQ+ family member or friend who is distressed by any of this. That’s the human impact I’m talking about.