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?

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