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.

 

 

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!

Progressives, it’s time we change tactic

‘The Specator’s’ Brendan O’Neill offered an analysis on what was behind Trump’s victory.

I think the self – described Marxist may have a point. Maybe a Trump win as U.S.’s 45th President is a warning to politicians, and also cultural progressives. People don’t like to be told to shut up. They don’t like to see the next generation of adults treated as precious petals. They are sick of the double standards people practice when they criticise Christianity (which is sometimes justified, I must say), but are deathly silent on Islam.

People are tired of being told they can’t do what they want to their own bodies. When it comes to issues like smoking, the possible effects of passive smoking and littering do need to be considered, but people argue it’s gone too far.

Also, people are sick of being abused. And conservatives cop some revolting abuse, including here in Australia. A number of Trump supporters were violently assaulted in the lead up to the election. Even after the election, riots have still occurred. Then, there was the torture of an 18 – year – old disabled man by an African American gang in Chicago. The ordeal lasted between 24 and 48 hours.

While things in Australia haven’t been as extreme, many causes has been hijacked by the far – Left, leaving scores of people disillusioned. This is where Safe Schools lost the plot. I agree that LGBTQ+ students and families should be supported. I also applaud how resources like ‘All of Us’ acknowledged other identities in the LGBTQ+ community and how it went beyond the gay/ straight dichotomy. Unfortunately, much of the ‘information’ in the program was deemed age inappropriate and was based on far – Left gender and feminist theory, rather than up –  to – date psychology and research. Not to mention founder, Roz Ward’s conference where she revealed that Safe Schools was not intended to be an anti – bullying program. To make matters even worse, the ‘Herald Sun’ and ‘The Australian’ published photos of its founder, Roz Ward assaulting an Australian Trump supporter.

 

People are worried. People have been hurt by institutions and systematic injustices have gone on for way too long. Homophobia, bi – phobia and racism destroys lives, but this isn’t the way to fight it. It only scares off would – be allies and only confirms to the Right what they already think.

 

Enough’s enough. Time for change. We need to stop the abuse and the hypocrisy. We need to allow others to speak without fear of being howled down. Should we tolerate homophobia, racism and the like? No. But we shouldn’t guilt people for having genuine concerns, either. If people are out of line, then offer a counter argument – with facts, statistics, logic and so on. Also, condemn violence/ abuse when committed by other members of the Left. If you look at any of Secular Talk videos on YouTube, Kyle Kulinski does this very well. David Rubin isn’t too bad either. They aren’t closed to debate – in fact, they’re all for it. Kulinski, in particular, is a hardcore libertarian. While I don’t agree with all of what Kulinski says, it’s what the modern Left needs – someone who encourages debate and someone with enough conviction that they are willing to call out wrongdoing when they see/ hear it. I think if we progressives do that, then maybe things may turn around.

 

What do you think about what’s going to happen in the next few years? What do you think about the result of the U.S. Election?

‘Clovergender’letter in the LGBTQ+ acronym

Heard of “clovergender”? There is a number of groups on Facebook and a hashtag on Twitter. What is it? According to David Reynolds of “The Advocate”, the term “clovergender” was coined by pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli. He has a history of clashing with the LGBTQ+ community for outrageously hiking up the prices of HIV/AIDS medication in the U.S. Before his suspension from Twitter earlier this year, Shkrelli came up with the term clovergender. The term was defined as:

… adult individuals claiming to be “a child trapped in a man’s body who is attracted to other children’.

Fact checking site, Snopes, exposed this hoax earlier this year.

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(Photo of  Snopes webpage).

Shkrelli has been since banned from Twitter after accusations that he harassed a “Teen Vogue” writer. Clovergender has also been discussed on 4Chan and 8Chan.:People involved in the “Clovergender” hoax have been known to harass and bully people on Twitter. Personally, I was warned about it. I have stayed away from any of the groups or Twitter feeds. I think it’s disgusting. The fact that it was done to deliberately demonise the LGBTQ+ and, obviously link them to pedophilia makes it more outrageous.

 

What makes it more outrageous is that this group isn’t the first to try and link the LGBTQ+ community to child sexual abuse. That’s what the North Carolina HB2 toilet bill descended to last year. Earlier this year, two “One Nation” candidates Shan Ju Li and Tracey Bell – Hensellin have both been called out and disciplined for making anti – gay remarks. Ju Lin referred to LGBT people as “patients’ while Bell – Hensellin accused LGBT people as “destroying families”. Plus, there’s all the anti – gay marriage scaremongering last year.

 

You know what, it’s people like Ju Lin and Bell – Hensellin who destroy families. People who continuously and falsely dehumanise the LGBTQ community, falsely equate them to predators, falsely claiming that if gay marriage will be legalised that pedophilia or bestiality – it’s these people that are destroying families. It’s these attitudes and rhetoric that leads to LGBTQ youth homelessness and them turning to prostitution and drugs as a survival mechanism. Regarding LGBTQ homeless youth no exact figures on LGBTQ homelessness are available in Australia. According to the Washington Post, the rate is believed to be 43% – that means that LGBTQ youth are more than four times more likely to be homeless than non – LGBTQ youth. I wouldn’t be surprised if the statistics are similar here. Many transgender youth find it particularly difficult – especially when trying to find emergency accommodation – with many of the services dedicated to one sex. People who identify as transwomen are rejected by women’s shelters and due to their identity, don’t feel safe in a men’s shelter. That is the real cost of all this anti – LGBTQ hysteria. It’s ridiculous. Everyone just grow up! This endless fear mongering and rhetoric are leaving too many LGBTQ+ youth vulnerable to homelessness and worse. YOU grow up!

 

When ISIS is discussed in the media, especially by conservative commentators and politicians, ideology and its potential danger is always bought up. Well, anti – gay/ anti – trans/ anti – queer ideology is evidently dangerous. It’s about time to realise how dangerous it is. It needs to be called out and condemned. In fact, I’m thinking it could be covered under anti – defamation laws, but I’m not sure about that. Either way, there needs to be a crackdown on it.

 

I don’t begrudge anyone for being against same – sex marriage in and of itself. To be honest I’m not sure which side of the fence I sit on. I can understand why people want it, but I do worry about the perception that same – sex marriage will infringe on other people’s rights to freedom or speech and religion and the backlash against the LGBTQ community. But I am no longer going to stay silent while LGBTQ people are unjustly vilified and slandered in the media and by politicians. I am no longer going to stand by and let the dehumanisation of the LGBTQ community continue and further contribute to the escalating homelessness and suicide rates of LGBTQ youth. I’m not sitting around waiting for someone to carry out a threat like the one that Melbourne’s JOY 94.9FM faced. While nothing happened and no one was hurt, 30 of their staff were evacuated from the premises.

 

So, can I ask you all a favour – politicians, the public and journalists, commentators and the general public – do not tolerate any speech that aims to dehumanise LGBTQ+ people, that aims to falsely paint them as predators. One it’s not true, and two, it destroys lives. Enough is enough.