My take on the religious freedom debate after same – sex marriage

open book
Image: Pexels

The inquiry into religious freedom after the legalisation of same sex marriage in Australia still rages on. Advocacy group just.equal has been able to access and upload PDF files both for and against more  so-called “religious freedom”. Here’s what I think.

While I don’t think that churches or other worship leaders should be forced to conduct same – sex marriage (which I thought was never a problem anyway), I am suspicious of calls for further extensions.

It’s all sounds really good and gentle. So you’re someone who wants to deny services to a same – sex couple wanting to get married? Then you lose business. Sounds fair, right? And everyone else should be able to exercise their conscience, right? Well, who, exactly, should be able to ‘exercise their conscience? Florists? Bakers?… Doctors? Pediatricians?

This is what I fear. And my fears aren’t completely baseless. In Tennessee, for example, it’s legal for mental health workers to refuse to treat LGBTQ+ people on religious grounds. In Michigan, just before same – sex marriage was law nationwide, a pediatrician refused to see a toddler because she was raised by same – sex married parents. That was legal, by the way.

I’ve seen comments on articles and social media that that won’t happen here. They argue that people should be able to refuse to cater for a same – sex wedding. Nothing else.

Yeah. For now.

Let’s get one thing straight (no pun intended). These people who are asking for extensions in ‘religious freedom’ are asking for the right to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people. Do you think that a baker will refuse to bake a cake for a couple that is getting remarried after a divorce? For some reason, I doubt it.

‘Religious freedom’ extensions are asking for the freedom to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people. I wish journalists and conservatives in general would just admit that. If you don’t want to work for or cater LGBTQ+ people, then don’t work in the business or community services sector. Frankly, it’s that simple.


Thing is, I’m not convinced that it’ll stop at catering for weddings. If I did, I may have some sympathy for those arguing for it (I actually did once).

LGBTQ+ people have already had their lives debated endlessly for months in the lead up to same – sex marriage. Some were triggered with homophobic and transphobic abuse, which they thought they’d left behind. And now, people want the right to ‘other’ them… again.

Think about this another way.

You’re LGBTQ+. You’ve ummed and aaahed, fretted and dreaded coming out to your family, friends, church, workmates, etc due to fear of being rejected. This is also hard for young people who are merely questioning their sexuality, (believe me, I know). Unfortunately, for too many young LGBTQ+ people, their fears are realised and they are ostracised from loved ones, abused in their faith communities, kicked out of home, and sometimes, physically abused. Just imagine, you’re LGBTQ+ fret about telling your friends, family and faith community and your worse fears are confirmed. Your parents kick you out. A friend who you thought you could trust betrays or rejects you. You’re rejected by your faith community, unless you go through ‘conversion therapy’. You do the whole lot: prayer, exorcism, fasting. Nothing changes. You feel like you’ve ‘failed’. The cycle starts again, until you break. You may get your life on track after years of therapy, soul work and immense internal healing.

Years later, you meet the love of your life. You want to spend the rest of your lives together and decide to do that officially through marriage. You and your partner go through all the preparations. You come to planning your cake… then, you hit a brick wall. The baker refuses to make it on religious grounds. All your past comes back to haunt you. The rejection of your family, your friends, your colleagues.


Lastly, what peeves me off to no end is the reason why people are arguing this. And, no it’s not religion. It’s because they can’t see LGBTQ+ people as people. They see them as pornified stereotypes. Go online and see what people who are against LGBTQ+ couples say; that they are ‘practising homosexuals’. References to anal sex, etc. See what I’m getting at? They immediately put their head in the gutter and refer to LGBTQ+ people as ‘acts’ that they imagine they do. How icky is that?! And dangerous. I really believe that is the reason why hate crime against LGBTQ+ people occurs around the world. Get your head out of the gutter!!!! The couple asked for a cake, not for you to participate in a brothel!

There is another solution. Let businesses be able to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people, but they should have to advertise it. Both on their premises and all their advertisements both in traditional and social media. If there is a backlash and they go bust, it’s their fault. But don’t allow them to drag LGBTQ+ people along, only to crush their dreams.

And, to those politicians who want this ‘right’ to be enshrined, don’t you DARE extend anti – discrimination laws any further. As many people on sofial media have said, last year, Australia voted for less discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, not more.


What do you think of the enqiry


After the revelation about Barnaby Joyce, stop being hypocritical about the LGBTQ+ community

It’s been revealed that Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals Leader, Barnaby Joyce has fathered a child that was born from an affair.

Now, I’ve agonised about whether I should write this because I do kind of agree that it’s a private matter and his family shouldn’t be dragged through the mud so publicly.

Having said that, to be honest, I was and am pissed off about this. Joyce was a vocal opponent of same – sex marriage last year. He did end up abstaining when everything hit the fan, but that’s beside the point.

While the final result was a win for the LGBTQ+ community, the same – sex marriage debate was taxing. It did open many LGBTQ+ people up to threats of violence and online abuse, not to mention flashbacks to past abuse and feelings of self – hatred, fear and low self – esteeem. All because of the so – called ‘sanctity of marriage’.

Look, I never, EVER want to hear or read the terms ‘sanctity of marriage’ ever again! For too long it’s given people a licence to treat LGBTQ+ people like dirt. It was a shield for people who didn’t have the guts to admit that they opposed LGBTQ+ people entirely or saw themselves as morally superior because they’re straight.

Well, enough!

No LGBTQ+ are not a harm to children! You know what has proven to negatively affect children? Divorce.

Split wedding cake signifying divorce
Image: iStock

According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, many children can be negatively affected by divorce, including in the long – term. Children of divorce run the the risk of having a lower education level and are more at risk of becoming sexually active at a younger age. They also run the risk of living in poverty if the main custody is granted to the mother.

It should be noted that the AIFS also says how it affects the children and their ability to be resilient, largely depending on how the separation is carried out by the parents (conflict exposure, etc).

A study by a reputable source has proven that divorce can put children at risk. No reputable studies, however, has proven that LGBTQ+ people, including same – sex parents has the same or similar negative effects. (The so – called ‘studies’ that did ‘prove’ that children of same – sex parents were worse off all fell apart when peer reviewed).

This is what I was reluctant to write. I know that some relationships are toxic and sometimes a separation or divorce is the healthiest choice for everyone involved. While i think we should talk about the impact of divorce and family separation  more, I don’t want to demonise single parents or those who have recently separated. So please, if you’re a single parent, please don’t take this post as a condemnation.

For those who repeatedly moralise against the LGBTQ+ community, argued against same – sex marriage because of the ‘sanctity of marriage’, you are my target. At least be honest that you think LGBTQ+ people are somehow inferior morally or otherwise to straight people. At least be honest that you don’t or didn’t think that they should be offered the same legal protections that you and millions of others have taken for granted most (if not all) your adulthood.


No more hypocrisy. No more using children as pawns. in this war that you chose to wage against the LGBTQ+ community last year. On the plus side, many people didn’t buy it. That children would be harmed or that Stalin would rise from the dead!

‘Yes’ won, so let’s stop the abuse

gay wedding cake with couple, aerial view of Australia
Images: iStock

December 7 was a historical day for Australia’s LGBTQ+ community. The Bill to legalise same – sex marriage passed the House of Representatives in a landslide.

January 9, 2018 is to be the day when same – sex couples can start registering their marriages, (excluding one special and sad circumstance).

We have won. But has love won? Daily Telegraph, columnist and Studio Ten host, Joe Hildebrand has slammed  some ‘Yes’ voters for using the victory as an excuse to bully prominent ‘No” campaigners.

I agree with his assessment.

Australian LGBTQ+  won the opportunity to marry the person that they love. Yes, it was a hard battle. It was taxing. It did see many in the LGBTQ+ distressed. Counselors, including at Lifeline, saw a spike in the calls for help during the debate. Unfortunately, a number of LGBTQ+ people felt let down when finding out family members voted “no”. I won’t got into all the horror stories I’ve read about the tactics of some of the “No” campaigners.

However, despite all the the antics of some “Yes” campaigners and — dare I say it — scaremongering from the “No” camp, 61.6% of those who chose to participate in the voluntary survey decided that LGBTQ+ people can marry the person they love. Most of those seven million did not have a personal stake in the fight. They weren’t fighting for their rights. They chose to fight on behalf of many LGBTQ+ people. We can’t take this for granted!

The 61.6% result was better than what I expected. I thought it would make fifty per – cent, if lucky, or just under. I read comments on blogs about how people changed their vote because of the disgusting behaviour of some of the “Yes” campaigners. And, “No” campaigners and other skeptics of same – sex marriage, exposed that as much as they could.

Now, despite the antics of some of the “Yes” campaigners and scaremongering of the “No”, about 7 million Australians agreed that same – sex couples should be forwarded the right to marry. This is a victory for the LGBTQ+ community. About 5 million still oppose, or were scared off voting “Yes”. We shouldn’t treat them appallingly. In our victory in another step towards LGBTQ+ rights, let’s be civil towards opponents, even though some of our scars may not have fully healed. Let’s use this opportunity to reach out to our family members and friends who did vote “no” and be the first to build bridges.


On social media, STOP the abuse! (CW: cyber – abuse, coarse language)


This does NOT, I repeat, NOT represent the LGBTQ+ community or their supporters as a whole. But this vile minority will no doubt be used to prevent further rights and protections for LGBTQ+ people. Or worse, it will be used to demand a backpedal of existing rights and protections.

Final thought: These tweets, and probably more examples I haven’t yet stumbled upon), are nothing more than blatant hypocrisy. They scream “love is love”, then abuse opponents. I know many people have been hurt by the vote process. It’s been hard and taxing emotionally. I get it. Frankly, I felt it. But let’s use this time to all heal, rather than inflict more wounds.

Same – sex marriage is won. My hopes for the future

Images: iStock

It’s happened. The Upper House and Senate voted overwhelmingly for legalising same – sex marriage on Thursday. There were celebrations and tears across the nation.

61.6% of eligible voters that decided to take part in the postal survey made the decision that people in same – sex relationships should be able to marry. This is quite an optimistic result. It has made me positive for the Australian LGBTQ+ community in the future.


Over seven million people believe people in same – sex relationships should be treated legally as those in opposite – sex relationships. They have the choice to make that commitment.

So, what does this mean for young people who are yet to recognise their sexuality or those who have been previously married (in a straight relationship), but find themselves in love with someone of the same sex? Will it easier to admit their same – sex attraction, without fear of retaliation from those who they care about?

The extremes of the ‘Yes’ campaign were right in one sense. This does go beyond marriage for same – sex couples. It should. Here me out and I’ll explain what I mean. My hope is that with this embrace of same – sex couples, that other members of the LGBTQ+ community waill also be embraced – that bisexual and asexual people will be believed and safe. That bisexual men are believed. That transgender, including non – binary people feel safe to come out and express their gender identity. I hope that intersex people will be granted the right to be autonomous and have a voice in what happens to their bodies medically, rather than being forced into having invasive surgeries without their informed consent.

I hope that schools become safer places for LGBTQ+ students and their families. I hope that anti – LGBTQ+ bullying will not be tolerated and that victims don’t have to doubt whether they should speak out in fear of further attacks or rejection from family, school staff, or peers.

I hope that asexual people will be acknowledged in school. I hope that when there is talk about sexuality, there is a separation between sexual and romantic orientation, allowing potentially asexual students the ability to experience their romantic attractions (if they have any), without the worry or confusion.


Even though the process was painful for many in the LGBTQ+ community, I hope the vote showed that many non – LGBTQ+ people are willing to treat us like people, not outrageous stereotypes or caricatures. I hope that this means that lesbians and bisexual women are not treated or viewed as a porn fantasy. I hope this means that gay and bi men aren’t negatively stereotyped and attacked because they are not “masculine” enough.

My guess is that over seven million people didn’t buy into the paranoia that gays were out to get kids, or to turn them gay, or that transgender people (especially transwomen) are predators. Like the general population, the vast majority aren’t!


So, here’s to love. Here’s to acceptance. And, most importantly, here’s to LGBTQ+ people being free to be who they are without fear.



What the same – sex marriage result really means

Images: iStock

The Senate has voted overwhelmingly to legalise same – sex marriage, forty – three to twelve affirmative. Plus 62.1% of people who took part in the postal vote also voted “Yes”. It’s going to happen.

So, what does that mean? I try and not be too mean about this, but, as I pointed out before, the ‘no’ campaign was a complete failure. Why? I think it was because they had no argument. They focused on Safe Schools. And through that, I truly believe that a lot of it was about painting LGBTQ+ people as sexual predators. The “slippery slope” arguments turned ridiculous and dangerous, with Senator Pauline Hanson saying that there needed to be a referendum to make sure child marriage doesn’t become legal (I’m not kidding).

Most Australians, including senators, obviously took a different approach. They realised that same – sex couples and LGBTQ+ people in general aren’t some sick conspiracy. Most people don’t link same – sex marriage to polygamy, or bestiality or child abuse. Many people, over 7 million Australians, were fair minded and thought about the debate through their own eyes (if they are LGBTQ+) or through the eyes of a friend or family member. The debate was, to many of those Australians, was about the future of their loved ones.

Over 7 million people didn’t think about schools teaching children how to masturbate. Most people who didn’t think that LGBTQ+ people were automatically linked to socialism (even though I do think the “Yes” campaign did become too closely aligned with Socialist Alliance and other far – Left organisations). The last ‘Coalition for Marriage’ advertisement was the most bizarre, making links between same – sex marriage and the Chinese Cultural Revololution of the seventies and eighties. LGBTQ+ people and same – sex marriage activists aren’t out to massacre anyone!

The biggest strength of the same – sex marriage debate (this time around), was that LGBTQ+ people were given a voice, particularly in the media. I think women’s site Mamamia did it the best, doing articles on people who are gay or in same – sex relationships (who may have been in an opposite – sex relationship before) and their families. This put a human face to the debate, taking away the conspiracy theories and paranoia about it. Founder, I think Mia Freedman has been a hero to the LGBTQ+ community over the years. I have so much respect for what she and the other writers and editorial staff.

Same – sex marriage opponents and skeptics haven’t been all bad either. While i think he’s been a scaremonger in the past, I applaud Newscorp’s Andrew Bolt for also giving LGBTQ+ people a voice, both on The Bolt Report, 2GB and on interviews he’s done, including on Christian show Think Again late last year. He has mentiojed his loved ones, including his sister, and their views.

Pic of Andrew Bolt last year being interviewed on
Andrew Bolt expressed regret on the strains on his relationships with LGBTQ+ friends and family over same – sex marriage.

Love didn’t win. Well, not just that. The humanity of the LGBTQ+ community did. The majority of the Senate and over 7 million Australians showed the LGBTQ+ community that they are viewed as people, worthy of the same legal rights as non – LGBTQ+ people and couples. My hope now is that there is healing in both mental well – being and relationships where there’s been damage.

As I’ve said before, I hope this is only the start — the start of LGBTQ+ people being fully accepted. The start of young people feeling safe admitting they are LGBTQ+ or are questioning their sexuality/ gender identity. The start of LGBTQ+ people being fully acknowledged in education, media and other institutional settings. And, I think the public and the Senate have taken the first step.

UPDATE: potential step back. According to The Guardian, Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull has caved in  to the conservatives in his party and guarantee anti – discrimination exemptions to charities and civil celebrants. Maybe that was always going to happen.

The vote was a victory, but it doesn’t mean wounds are healed

Images: iStock

To be honest, I hope this is the last time I write about this. The announcement that 61.6% of people who participated in the Marriage Postal Survey said ‘Yes’ include same – sex couples in the Marriage Act.

the result was better than what I thought it might have been. I was fearing it’d been much closer to 50/50, or, frankly, a slight loss for the ‘Yes’ vote.

Some say that this was a ‘a vote of love’ toward the Australian LGBTQ+ community. I believe there is an element of truth to that, to be honest. This vote did prove that many people are willing to see LGBTQ+ people as equal and worthy of love as heterosexual people. I hope that this does signal a future where LGBTQ+ people don’t have to have any fear about coming out, or being seen with their partner/ spouse out in public.

However, and this is a big however, it DOES NOT mean that it was a painless process or that all wounds have been healed. As I wrote in the past, a number of counselling services across the country had seen a spike in the number of calls by LGBTQ+ people who were distressed during the vote. For some, it brought back bad memories and insecurities. The result announced on Wednesday may have relieved some of that, but for other LGBTQ+ people, healing will take a lot longer.

The fact that over seven million voted ‘yes’ may do little to help LGBTQ+ people who have felt betrayed by family members who voted ‘no’ and/ or don’t accept for who thwy are. The process may have poured salt into those wounds that, frankly, may never heal.

I think the debate around around ‘religious exemptions’ and ‘conscientious objections’ have been another hurdle that may also trigger negative memories and feelings from members of the LGBTQ+ community because the validity and value of LGBTQ+ people has been up for  debate. Again. To many, they still don’t feel equal. What LGBTQ+ rights will clash with conservatives and lose out? Exemptions for religious leaders and celebrants were always goibg to happen, and are fine. Extensions to florists, bakers, etc, however concern me (although James Patterson’s Bill has been dropped and Patterson is willing to debate and work to ammend the Dean Smith Bill. Let’s hope the Bill doesn’t end up opening Pandora’s box and allow other discrimination; against children with LGBTQ+ parents, for instance.


The last few days have brought a lot of people joy. Many may have found solace in the huge ‘yes’ response and that may have been enough to heal any hurt, fears and doubts. But it’s also true that, for a number of LGBTQ+ people, familial and friend rejection and the pain it’s caused will override the ‘national cuddle’. Because if you don’t feel accepted by the people you love the most, over seven million ‘hugs’ from strangers will seem hollow.

How did you find the Australian Marriage postal survey and the debate?




A big call out to LGBTQ+ supporters


In the eve of the same – sex marriage postal survey announcement, I want to give a shout out to all those who stood by and advocated on behalf of many LGBTQ+ Australians.

Thank you to those who have actively campaigned for LGBTQ+ rights: written to politicians; called them; and used your voice in the survey.

Thank you to the counsellors/ psychologists who dedicated much of the last few months listening to and supporting LGBTQ+ people who were distressed.

Thank you to those who comforted LGBTQ+ friends and family. It hasn’t been an easy process, (in fact, at times for many, it’s been downright hard!). Thank you to those who have offered a shoulder to cry on when needed.

Thank you to the religious leaders who have called for compassion toward the LGBTQ+ community and have aimed to build bridges between, what have been warring factions. Thank you to those who joined campaigns like Equal Voices, and called for healing and reconciliation between the Church and the LGBTQ+ community.

Thank you to older LGBTQ+ people. like Anthony. Venn – Brown and Magda Szubanski, who have offered their advice and advocacy to younger LGBTQ+ people. Also, thank you to other LGBTQ+ people who have been willing to be open about their own struggles, but pushing forward and fighting for what you want. You have been so brave and strong!

Finally, I’d like to thank media personalities for standing by us. Thanks to Mamamia founder Mia Freedman and other staff for being an endless advocate for LGBTQ+ people. Thank you for giving LGBTQ+ people and their families a voice. You don’t know how much that means to us.

Thank you to Sky News’ Paul Murray and Patricia Karvelas for also being outspoken supporters for same – sex marriage. Thank you also, for being, sadly the few, who have consistently called out and condemned abuses from both sides of the debate.

Who would you like to thank for supporting you or the LGBTQ+ community more broadly during this debate?