Were the homophobic posters fake?

Yesterday, I criticised Andrew Bolt for not criticising homophobic posters allegedly plastered over Sydney and Melbourne. Well, today, he has commented on it — to raise doubts about the claim.

To be fair, he said that he wasn’t passing judgment, just a bit wary, which I get. Maybe I should have done the same thing?

I shouldn’t be so hard on him, should I?

 

For Sydney – ites and Melbournians, have you seen any of the alleged homophobic posters in either city?

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Why doesn’t Andrew Bolt condemn hateful posters against LGBTQ+ families in Sydney and Melbourne?

Trigger Warning: homophobia, homophobic language, Orlando shooting last year

A person has informed Andrew Bolt of slanderous anti – LGBTQ posters that have been seen in both Sydney and Melbourne:

Once again a simple vote for marriage equality turned into a fight for survival by Bolt and the hard right.

Still no mention of those horrible posters, Andrew?

“Nicholas” has a point. It’s the principle not the side that counts, right?

True, true, Bolt has condemned homophobia in the past, including on the assault of Qantas CEO Alan Joyce last year. He has also criticised Mark Latham and Ross Cameron for making unsavoury comments about LGBTQ people. Good on him for that. He has also spoken with compassion toward LGBTQ+ he personally knows during this debate.

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

There have been other times when, at least to my knowledge, he’s missed an opportunity, such as the threats against Melbourne’s Joy 94.9 FM last year.

I know, I know I keep bringing these things up. But, what is it, the principle or the side that is important.

Even more important than that, who wants to be told (falsely) that their LGBTQ+ loved ones are more likely to abuse children? I don’t think for a second that Bolt thinks that’s true. So, why silence?

 

I think this is more that the posters are more than just a bit off or espousing an unpopular or controversial opinion. The posters used the F word meant for gay people, especially gay men. Not only is the term considered to be a form of verbal abuse by members of the LGBTQ+ community, but it is often associated with physical homophobic violence.

The myth that LGBTQ couples are more likely to or are the equivalent of child sexual abusers needs to be stamped out, too. The aftermath of the Orlando Pulse Night Club last year sparked fear in the LGBTQ+ community. What wasn’t talked about in Australia was that people —non Muslims, mind you — praised the gunman, saying that the victims should be executed. In their venom, these people equated gay people to pedophiles. One preacher said from the pulpit that Orlando, Florida is a little safer tonight”Yes, he and others did receive condemnation, but it still freaks me out. It shows that words do matter. Regardless of your views on same – sex marriage or even LGBTQ+ people in general, comparing LGBTQ+ people and their families to pedophiles, as well as derogatory terms, must be condemned. And it needs to be called out by people with a major social and political influence and voice, like Bolt has.

People have scoffed at the idea that LGBTQ+ have negative feelings about the plebiscite. To be quite honest, for a while, I was in favour of it, even the postal one. Since the postal plebiscite is likely (if it passes the Supreme Court), then LGBTQ+ must be supported. Abuse must be condemned. These posters are not just a matter of “free speech”. This is purporting a dangerous view of LGBTQ+ people, which for too long justified violent attacks on people based on their sexuality or perceived sexuality or gender. In the name of ‘debate’, it’s about time people started calling this out and condemning it.

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Rainbow Pride flag
Image: iStock

 

Councils commemorating IDAHOBIT: is that such a bad thing?

IMG_0540
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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free speech and the responsibility to speak out

Last week and today, Newscorp columnist, Andrew Bolt condemned cartoonist Larry Pickering for anti – Muslim and anti gay slurs. He also slammed former Coalition member, Ross Cameron for not calling Pickering out.

Well done, Mr. Bolt.

No, really I mean it. It means a lot for a respected columnist/ commentator to use his platform to stand up for the LGBTQ+ community, and especially gays that have been persecuted in one of the most brutal regimes. I also applaud him for confronting South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi for his controversial comments on same – sex marriage back in 2012 while he was a guest on Sky’s ‘The Bolt Report’ last Monday night.

It is great that Bolt is being consistent in calling out homophobia, racism, etc when it occurs. I hope he – as well as other journalists – CONSISTENTLY continue to call homophobia, racism and other forms of discrimination when they  occur. As I wrote many times last year, I was very disappointed when Bolt and most other journalists didn’t call out and condemn the threats made toward Melbourne’s only LGBTQ radio station JOY 94.9FM last year during the plebiscite debate. Since it’s a new year, (well another year since that event), I’m willing to believe that Bolt and others are willing to turn a new leaf and call out homophobia when it happens and not excuse it. So far, I have been pleasntly surprised with Bolt and his support for members of the LGBTQ+ community – at least condemning abuse. I hope he keeps it up. I also hope others follow in his footsteps.

In the posts that, Bolt was talking – as he often does – about free speech and not having anti discrimination legislation such as Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 to deal with it and instead, have racists, homophobes, etc, have to face criticism by the wider public. This can only happen if people are willing to speak out. This only works when people refuse to turn a blind eye or deaf ear to what’s happening. People who call out racism or homophobia, including slurs, should be able to do so, without having everyone on their backs. Members of the LGBTQ+ community and racial minorities NEED to be able to tell of their experiences. Some things that are said maybe uncomfortable to hear. Tough! If free speech is the way to comat racism and queerphobia, then members of racial minorities and the LGBTQ+ community need to be able to speak and be heard!

 

Lastly, I think there needs to be an overall community effort to eliminate homophobia and racism – in schools, health and the widercommunity. Generally, I think we’ve done this quite well in Australia, with, for example, the Pride Match between St. kilda Saints and Sydney Swans last year. At the time, I said that I thought it was great for such a major, traditionally macho, pastime and cultural icon in Australia to open their arms out to LGBTQ+ players and spectators.

Of course, the mainstrem media has played a major role in embracing members of the LGBTQ+ community and rallying behind their causes. Over the years, I’ve written about the media’s increasing reporting on asexuality and I think that most of them have done a decent job. I still continue to see articles, most which are pretty well written. They mostly validate the experiences of asexual people, which I think is important. This month, Cosmopolitan has released a special LGBTQ Pride issue. I want to talk about it in more depth at a later date.

 

Maybe with all these advances and perceptions slowly changing around ethnic minorities and the LGBTQ + community, things like 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 won’t be needed. But I  believe that is going to put greater onus on all of us to not accept, and more importantly, call out racism and queerphobia. Are we as writers and a community willing to harbour that responsibility? Are YOU willing?

If One Nation wants to represent all Australians, that includes single – parents and the LGBTQ+ community

It seems like Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party can’t stay away from controversy for very long. It’s not Hanson’s fault. To her credit, she has dealt with some of the cases I’m about to talk about. The thing is, it seems to be happening again and again.

First, Senator for Ipswich, Queensland, Shan Ju Lin was sacked after it was revealed that she falsely claimed that two men who were cleared of sexual abuse of young children committed the crimes because of their sexuality. She didn’t apologise for those comments, but instead doubled down.

Next Glasshouse, Queensland candidate, Tracey Bell – Hensellin, made a number of anti – gay comments on her Facebook page, accusing the LGBTQ+ community of “grooming” after a number of  children’s shirts displayed pro – gay messages and claiming that they set out to “destroy families”. Now, this time, according to “The Courier Mail”, Hanson stood by the candidate, arguing that the comments weren’t anti – gay.

Wait, I’m not finished yet. There’s another one.

Third candidate to come in the spotlight is member for Pilbara, Western Australia, David Archibald. He’s dealt two major blows. Archibald labelled single mothers “too lazy” to attract a partner. He’s no ally to the LGBTQ+ community either, claiming that homosexuality was an “acceptable loss” and that only a “degenerate culture” would legalise same – sex marriage.

 

Australia, this has been a part of your Senate for nearly a year and a half.

Pauline Hanson says again and again that she represents the people of Australia. Well, frankly she should have picked her candidates better, because SURPRISE, “Australian society includes single parents (both mothers and fathers) and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Sure, Archibald, Ju Lin and Bell – Hensellin aren’t alone in their disparaging views against LGBTQ+ people or single parents. But surely politicians should be held to a higher standard. Surely, they can have a little respect for all people in their electorate. That includes single parents – both mothers and fathers and members of the LGBTQ+ community.

 

I’m personally sick of the LGBTQ+ community in particular being attacked. I’m also sick of people getting away with it – well – at least for the most part. And, this even goes on in the Parliament. The people who are meant to represent ALL Australians. I hope that the next three or so years are not just full of  anti – LGBTQ+ abuse spewed by Parliamentarians, often without consequences. I also hope that single parents aren’t so stigmatised that domestic violence victims feel ashamed for leaving their abuser and fear being labelled unfairly. No one knows the personal circumstances of a single parent, so don’t assume and stigmatise. Is that so hard?

 

Now, I can imagine people protesting right now – but what about free – speech? Well, sure they have the right to say what they want without too much government interference, as we all do. Well, maybe that’s debatable since we have 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975… that’s for another post for another day. But generally, we have free speech in this country. However, I do not think that “free speech” should not mean free from criticism and consequences. It does not mean that someone can’t or shouldn’t be sacked because of what they say, including on social media. It does not mean that you can be unapologetic when you get something gravely wrong, especially when it has the potential to cause harm. Also, LGBTQ+ people, ethnic minorities, single parents, etc shouldn’t have to grin and stay silent when being stigmatised.

 

Parliamentarians should be held to a high standard in conduct, including on – line. Also, I’d ask, how much do minorities need to put up with? How many times do LGBTQ people have to be likened to “predators” and “mentally ill” before we can protest? I’ve had it!