Israel Folau can have his beliefs. People have a right to disagree

Rugby ball in front of goal posts
Image: iStock

Wallabies player, Israel Folau, has caused a storm after he posted on Instagram that gay people that don’t repent will go to hell. This comes less than twelve months since he expressed his view that marriage should be between a man and woman on Twitter. Rugby Australia are not planning to sack Folau, but will encourage him to be mindful of divisive comments on social media in the future. According to The Australian, Qantas and Swisse have threatened to withdraw sponsorship from Rugby Australia in revolt to Folau’s comments.

Here’s my take.

I actually agree with Rugby Australia for not sacking or suspending Folau.

I also defend the right of Qantas and Swisse to pull their sponsorship as a form of revolt. They can put their money where they like.

What Folau said would have hit a lot of people hard. The relationship between LGBTQ+ people and Christians has been rocky in the past to say the least.

While religious belief and participation is shown to be beneficial to people’s mental well – being, this can’t always be said for LGBTQ+ people. In fact, a number of LGBTQ+ people end up abandoning their religion because of the conflict between their sexuality and their religious affiliation.

Some attitudes and actions of some Christian (and other religious) organisations have been downright harmful.

So – called ‘conversion’ or ‘reparative’ therapy; which is thankfuly becoming rarer, is known to be harmful and does not work. Multiple medical and psychological bodies around the world have publicly rejected the idea that sexual orientation can and should be changed. Some of them have also warned about potentially damaging effects of the practice. Conflict between sexual orientations and religious affiliation has also shown to be a risk factor to poor mental health and suicidal thoughts among LGBTQ+ people.

 

With all that said, Folau should be debated, not penalised or silenced.

People caould argue, what I said and linked above; that most medical bodies around the developed world reject the notion that sexual orientation can or should be changed. They also argue that sexual orientation can’t be chosen.

Christians also have different interpretations of the so – called ‘clobber passages’ in both the Old an$ New Testament that are often used as a justifications for condemning gay people.

Over the years, people have strongly argued that the bible doesn’t condemn LGBTQ+ people or same – sex relationships.

Chill and hear me out. The most common arguments of these Christians, sometimes referred to as ‘Side A’ Christians, are that the passages condemn same – sex acts (often committed by men), that were not consensual, were often committed against children or was committed as a ritual in idol worship (Corinthians, in particular, did worship Aphrodite).

Second common argument, which is kind of related, is the controversy over the interpretations of some of the Hebrew and Greek.

I understand why people are angry and hurt by Folau’s comments. I feel for people who have been damaged by the actions of certain Christians. However, I don’t think censoring or punishing people like Folau will ultimately do anyone any good.

Let Folau and those like him to have their say, then non – Christians and Christians alike can debate it out, then leave it alone. The LGBTQ+ community can’t be seen censoring people. Not after the hard – won battle of same – sex marriage in Australia.

 

 

 

 

 

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Ravishly wrong about #MeToo and demonising men

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In the wake of the #MeToo, feminist site Ravishly speculates how relations between men and womwn, including in romantic relationships, have been affected

 

I usually like the American feminist site, Ravishly. I like how they allow various voices to be heard. I like their advocacy and inclusion, especially of the LGBTQ+ community.I love the way they have written about asexuality.

 

This, though, goes too far. The title itself is provocative enough: “Can Straight Couples Survive #MeToo”.The columnist, Myisha Battle starts off alright; how the #MeToo movement emboldened and terrified women about the extent of sexual assault and harassment. Women seek solace forming communities where women can support other survivors of such trauma. Great. But, after that, the article goes downhill.

Take these quotes:

How do women still go out with guys when you consider that there is no greater threat to women than men?

(said by CK himself before the accusations against him became public)

…where does that leave us with our relationships with men?

Fair or not, the biggest question that women who are partnered with men is “has he always been a good man and can I continue to trust that he will be good to me and all the other women in his life?

I imagine that people would be offended by the last quote in particular. And if it was said about any other group: LGBTQ+ people, people of colour, etc, it wouldn’t be tolerated.

Men as a whole should not be condemned for the actions of a few. Women shouldn’t feel like they tiptoe around partners, husbands, brothers, uncles, fathers, etc unnecessarily (unless there is reason to; violence, etc).

 

Another thing I don’t like about this is women perpetrators and male victims of abuse and harassment get ignored. At least one male survivors of sexual assault have  made that accusation against the movement as a whole.

The author of the Stuff article I posted above isn’t the only male that has broken his silence of abuse and harassment. Infamously, Anthony Rapp accused Kevin Spacey of assaulting him when he was only fourteen. George of the Jungle and The Mummy star, Brendan Fraser, used #MeToo to allege that he was sexually assaulted by a former Hollywood Press Association president (which the accused denied at the time the article was written).

 

It’s true that the vast majority of victims of sexual violence are women, according the the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and over 90% of perpetrators are male, according to Centres Against Sexual Assault (CASA). I think we have to remember when the roles are reversed (male victim/ female perpetrator) or when men have been assaulted by other men either as children or adults.

Final thing. As a non – straight person, I want to defend straight couples. They are not all toxic. The revelations brought about by the #MeToo movement should not be treated as an indictment against heterosexuality. This is ridiculous. There are good men who love women, both their partners, other family members and friends. There are fathers of girls who adore them and would hate for any harm to come to them – especially something as abhorrent as sexual assault.

The #MeToo movement should— and I think has done so somewhat successfully— exposed men, in particular, that have been abusive. They should be held to account. Using the movement to scaremonger and demonise men unjustly won’t do anyone any good.

If you’re Australian and this has brought up any issues for you, you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or 1800 – RESPECT (1800 737 732)

If you aren’t from Australia and know any helpline numbers or other contact details of organisations that help sexual assault sufferers in your country, please post them in the comments below. 

Public servants spend hours on dating and shopping sites


Laptop under love heart
Image: iStock

Bureaucrats are spending time looking at dating and shopping sites on the job, @according to Sunday Herald Sun. (‘Public servants spend thousands of work hours online looking for love’, Annika Smetherst, Sunday  Herald Sun, April, 1).

Smetherst reported that the Sunday Telegraph gained access to documents confirming a list of sites visited by Department of Social Services employees during work hours over twelve months. Sites included:

  • RSVP
  • Elite Singles
  • Bureau of Meteorology
  • Twitter (Public servants can use Twitter for political debate, providing they don’t criticise other agencies or ministers, according to the Australian Public Service Commission)
  • Taste.com
  • Footy tips
  • Lite’n’easy
  • Kmart
  • Ikea
  • Movie schedules
  • Real estate
  • David Jones

Now, I admit that I have a habit of wasting time online when I should be doing other things. Sometimes, it’s good to take a break from what your work for a while. But the list above is extensive. And the hours over a twelve momth period is, quite frankly, ridiculous.
And how does this affect the running of the services? I know that Centrelink get lots of criticism about customer waiting times when trying to contact someone over the phone. Is this a possible reason? The public rightly expect that services that most of the public pay for is up to scratch. Unfortunately, the truth is, for years now, services like Centrelink, have been less than satisfactory.

This just fuels more public anger against politicians. They are tired of being treated by mugs. It’s more than enough.

Politicians and publis servants need to pick up their game. I’m not saying that public servants have no right to visit dating and shopping sites, but not at the expense of the quality of services that most of the public pay for and other rely on. The public have a right to demand a whole lot more and there needs to be accountability put back into politics and the public service. Waiting hours to talk to someone on the phone at Centrelink, (especially when it’s required for someone to maintain payments or to avoid gettimg a debt in overpayments, which can add up to the tens of thousands), is inexcusable.

But what can we do? We can wait until next year’s election, get Labor in and then… start all over agsin, I guess. The lack of an ethical compass of most politicians and, apparently public servants have, is disgusting, to be frank. But what can we do?! Maybe increased direect pressure might help. Contact MPs either by phone or email (be respectful, of course). Start social media campaigns. If you see a politician face to face, tell them of your disappointment. I’m just going off the top of my head here. Whether it’d do any good is another thing. How can you criticise someone who’s ethical compass and sense of duty is so out of whack and has been for decades now?

 

Anyone got any other suggestions on how we can spurr things on to make our public services better? What have your experienes with public service been? Let me know in the comments below.