Sounds like plebiscite is about to take its final breath and the football of LGBTQ+ rights

Voting booth with 'no' sign through it
Images from Canva

It looks like the plebiscite on same – sex marriage is dead. Well, Liberal MPs including Warren Entsch and Tim Wilson and two others I can’t think of now, have sided with Labor and the Greens and pushing for a free vote in Parliament.
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(Video from 7 News Sydney, Facebook)

This is obviously going to create a backlash and a war in the party if indeed it does happen. I’ve got a funny feeling that there’ll be a push to kick Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull after the 2019 election at the latest. That’s my prediction.

I just hate that this has all become a political game. And that’s what it is — a sick game. I don’t trust LNP or Labor to legalise same – sex marriage without strings attached. If Liberals legalise same – sex marriage, there will almost certainly be talks — or demands — that there be conscience – based exemptions. That’s became a dangerous slippery – slope in the U.S, with mental health professionals being exempt from anti – discrimination laws under “conscience” grounds. While laws and the Constitutions of Australia and the US may differ, make no mistake, this will be a battle that LGBTQ+ people will have to fight. I don’t doubt, either that trans people will be on the hit list as well.

This, and the surge in anti – LGBTQ hate crime have been the main reasons why I supported a plebiscite when I did. For me, both the physical safety and mental well – being of LGBTQ+ Australians is paramount. Legalising same – sex marriage doesn’t automatically guarantee that.

However, I’m changing my mind on the plebiscite because I see it as a delay tactic. I don’t think the LNP sold their case well. The well – being and struggles that LGBTQ+ people may face, in my opinion, wasn’t for the most part, adequately discussed. And when a person like music pioneer, Molly Meldrum dared to join the debate about Margaret Court, he was, I think he was unfairly jumped on (read the comments).

There are exceptions. Two people who have allowed LGBTQ+ to speak or voiced their concerns on their behalf are Sam Crosby and Andrew Bolt. I have admired how Bolt, even though he’s a sceptic of same – sex marriage, has voiced some of the views of LGBTQ+ people in his own life. He’s did it on Steve Price’s show not that long ago (last week?).

But it was the confrontation between Sam Crosby and journalist Nick Cater on Sky News Australia that got the most respect from me. The fact he gave LGBTQ+ a voice, I think is commendable.

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(Video: Sam Crosby Facebook page)

Like I said, it seems that the plebiscite is about to take it’s last breath. What will happen next will be anyone’s guess. Will a conscience vote happen or will PM Malcolm Turnbull shy away from that route, again? Only time will tell. They should just do something!

To Australian readers. Were/ are you in favour of a plebiscite on same – sex marriage? Are you critical of how any of the parties has dealt with it? Feel free to leave your comments below. 

 

 

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Councils commemorating IDAHOBIT: is that such a bad thing?

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Image: iStock

 

 

This week, Geelong City Council raised the rainbow flag on City Hall as a part of International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).

Good idea? I didn’t actually know this until a few hours ago, but May 17 marks the day when the World Health Organisation officially declassified homosexuality as a mental illness back in 1990. Sine then, transgenderism is slowly being destigmatised and is no longer officially being classed as a mental illness. With that, the western world has continued to make advances into ensuring the full participation and well – being of LGBTQ+ people in society. Of course, this hasn’t been smooth sailing, with continued discrimination and all out culture wars which still affect LGBTQ+ people in the West today.

Back to the Geelong City Council, like I said, I think almost any move to show acceptance and advocacy for LGBTQ+ is a good thing. However, if you watched a discussion on shows like Sky News’ ‘Paul Murray Live’ this week, you would sense a bit of ‘here we go again’. Panellist like ‘Herald Sun’s’ Rita Panahi attacked Labor again for voting down the proposed plebiscite earlier this year.

The thing is, do gestures like the ones that the Geelong City Council made win hearts? To be honest, I think the answer is no. Pushing ad nauseum, while attacking opponents of things like same – sex marriage, or even the signalling of IDAHOBIT by raising the rainbow flag on a government building isn’t winning anyone over.

So, what can we do?

First thing that comes to mind is… talk. Talk about same – sex marriage, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, etc. We need to work together to work it out so LGBTQ+ are included and accepted without others feeling unfairly targeted and silenced.

On a similar point, let LGBTQ+ talk. This is what has frustrated me over the so – called debate on same – sex marriage. On one hand, you have groups like Socialist Alliance running amok making LGBTQ+ look bad, then on the other end, you have conservatives (almost always straight), telling LGBTQ+ to suck it  up and how we should have just had the plebiscite.

There are LGBTQ+ Australians who don’t want same – sex marriage to be legalised, and yet there are those who do and take the debate hard and did have aerious concerns. I think I’ve said before that mental health was a topic that was unfortunately not talked about in the lead up to the vote on the plebiscite until it was too late and the bill was blocked in the Senate. This isn’t about treating LGBTQ+ people as ‘special snowflakes’ or ‘precious petals’, but acknowledging that, because of their circumstances, past trauma or toxic beliefs about gender identity or sexuality, that such people may have needed support in the lead up to the plebiscite.

 

I do any council or other institution who work to make LGBTQ+ people feel secure and included in their area. i do think LGBTQ+ need to be heard. Whether putting a rainbow flag on a government building, even for a week is a way to do it is I think questionable. Let’s hope it doesn’t have the exact opposite effect.

 

 

Budget announced – no guts or glory

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The Coalition Government has announced the Budget

 

The Coalition has announced it’s 2017 Budget. Not everyone is happy (well, everyone has a gripe with it, I think). Andrew Bolt has slammed it as a ‘Labor budget’. In today’s Herald Sun, columnist Susie O’Brien has called it a ‘fairytale’.

I call it a toothless tiger. It’s clear to me that the Coalition are still scarred by the backlash against Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey in 2014. They aimed to cut welfare, even though much of it was knocked back in the Senate. Some cuts were made, including over $500 million dollars from Aboriginal health services. There was also a proposed plan for a six month freeze on New Start payments and compulsory interviews and ‘activities’ for Disability Support Pension recipients. Due to public backlash, Abbott and Hockey pedalled back on the Newstart  freeze, making potential recipients only wait for a month. There is also spending on education, health and infrastructure projects.

 

I call this year’s Budget a toothless tiger. Gutless really. Unlike Abbott/ Hockey, the Turnbull/ (Scott) Morrison Government went for the middle income earners, the banks and multinationals. The only group that has been targeted and fought back are university students, who will be forced to pay seven per cent more on their HECS – HELP loans, which will be due to be paid back when a graduate will earn just over $40,000 rather than $52,000 a year. Other than that, who, (at least theoretically), would protest the big four banks being targeted? Or multinationals? That’s what I mean by toothless tiger. They went for easy targets, with many concessions (railways, a new Sydney airport, etc). This has caused rumours on a possible election before 2019.

 

This Budget was gutless. While things like the tax cuts for small businesses are OK, there isn’t too much else to go on except to say that it’s infuriated traditional Coalition supporters. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

What did you think of the Budget announcement?

Magnum ad, LGBTQ+ visibility and a plea against dehumanising LGBTQ+ people

Reading about the controversy over a Magnum commercial  hit a nerve with me. They way both same – sex marriage opponents and supporters have conducted this “debate” on same – sex marriage has been pathetic.

The reaction Cooper’s beer being featured in ‘Keeping it Light’ same – sex marriage debate by both supporters and opponents was overall childish, especially the backlash after Cooper’s back – pedalled and expressed support for same – sex marriage.

The meltdown over Airbnb campaign where staff members were given an incomplete ring was also ridiculous. If there was any evidence that staff felt intimidated into wearing it, then that’d be wrong. But a quick Google search suggests that hasn’t happened.

Now, the Magnum ad. Two women who are in a relationship (could be lesbian, could be bi, or could be homo – romantic) was feathred sharing a magnum before getting married to another. This sparked a complaint to the Advertising Standards Board, with an accusation that it was ‘promoting lesbianism’ and shouldn’t be featured in children’s viewing timeslot. *Sigh*. These sort of complaints have been rightly condemned as a push to make the LGBTQ+ community invisible again.

 

People may have moral objections towards those in the LGBTQ+ community. But how about you change the channel when the Magnum ad comes on? If you want to drink Cooper’s then do, if not, don’t. It’s a beer, for crying out loud!

From same – sex marriage supporters, no one should have a (figurative) gun put to their head in a bid to get employees, etc to support same – sex marriage. This is not going to win supporters, in fact, it may do the opposite. Just take a chill pill and let people breathe.

 

On the Magnum ad, I think the controversy has sparked a long – worn and potentially harmful belief about the LGBTQ+ community. Make that two. First is the idea that the LGBTQ+ community should have no representation in the media – unless it’s to fulfil a male fantasy, I guess. The second, which I think is more harmful – is the idea that being LGBTQ+ is about genitals and sex rather than fully human. I believe this is what gets LGBTQ+ harassed, raped or murdered around the world. It’s these limiting ideas that have driven – and continue to drive – hostility in some religious communities.

LGBTQ+ people are people. They are more than their sex lives (or lack of). A kiss by a heterosexual/ hetero-romantic couple is just a kiss. So is a same – sex kiss. If either offends you, look away. But please do not reduce LGBTQ+ people to your stereotypes and caricatures. They are human – your brothers, sisters, siblings, friends, sons, daughters, etc. Well, they could be. This is what makes homophobia, bi – phobia, trans – phobia, etc so toxic – the way it leaves young people homeless, the way it breaks up families and even can lead to domestic violence. Regardless of your views on same – sex marriage, or even relationships, please look beyond the stereotypes. They are real human beings. It’s time they started to be treated as such.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.