2,500 year old laws are no way to run the 21st century ... or Australia
Prior to former Prime Minister Tony Abbott being ousted in September 2015, he had to contend with a passionate debate about marriage equality. Abbott, supposedly a devout Christian (while torturing children and abusing vulnerable people, but that's another story), is adamantly opposed to marriage equality. Not so, other members of his party or other members of parliament. So to placate the 'yes' vote, Abbott stated that a plebiscite would be held straight after the next federal election. Given that most people want marriage equality, a plebiscite is clearly just a waste of money and time.
Sadly, Abbott's successor, Malcolm Turnbull has continued with the promise to hold the plebiscite rather than just putting a marriage equality bill to parliament.
In the meantime, right-wing extremists whip themselves into a frenzy at the thought of two loving adults marrying each other. Anyone would think that homosexuality was the worst crime in the world. Funny how these people are so silent on the abuse of the world's most vulnerable people at the hands of politicians such as Abbott, Turnbull et al. State-sanctioned child abuse? Meh. Marriage equality? Bust out the pitch-forks and stakes.
The right-wing have claimed that their rights are being violated if same sex marriage is legalised. I'm not quite getting this. It's the right-wing that is preventing gay people from marrying. The gay community isn't stopping heterosexuals from marrying. If there is an attack on the family or a violation of anyone's rights, it is the right-wing's attacks on preventing gay people from marrying and being able to establish loving families.
The right-wing raised the ante by demanding that existing anti-discrimination legislation be suspended during debate on marriage equality. Why would they want that? The law doesn't prevent people voicing their opinion against marriage equality. It does however, ensure people don't persecute others based on sexual orientation. So why does the right-wing want this law suspended? Clearly they don't understand the difference between debate and abuse, between discussion and bullying. Clearly they don't understand the effect their words and deeds have on others.
Not surprising then, that so many LGBTI people suffer bullying. A recent study found that 85% of LGBTI people suffered abuse, harassment and violence(1). There are much higher incidences of self-harm and mental health issues with LGBTI people than the general community. Much of this stems from the abuse and rejection that they suffer at the hands of bigots, the intolerant and the ignorant.
And so it was that the government implemented the Safer Schools program to promote understanding and acceptance of LGBTI people in order to reduce the incidence of abuse and bullying that they suffer. If a school has protective policies in place, 75% of LGBTI students report feeling safe, compared to 45% in schools where there are no policies in place(2).
Instead of promoting this as a good thing, the rabid right have shown why the Safe Schools program is necessary. They claim it is a conspiracy to further the gay agenda and that children shouldn't be taught that there is such a thing as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex. Senator Cory Bernardi went further with the haughty statement that the Safer Schools program 'indoctrinates kids with Marxist cultural relativism'(3).
If Bernardi's bigotry is the benchmark, then bring on the Marxist cultural relativism as it obviously protects and respects people from the abuse of bigots.
By the by, cultural relativism essentially holds that all cultures are equal. Marxism also essentially holds that we are all equal. Now that we've got that out the way ...
Many of those opposed to marriage equality are right-wing Christians who seem more hung up on the Ten Commandments than the Two Commandments that Jesus espoused (Love the Lord your God ... Love your neighbour). They seem more hung up with laws of Leviticus than they do with the blessings of the Beatitudes.
When it comes to homosexuality, the religious right is adamant that the 2,500 year old Levitical law of the bible applies. Leviticus 20:13 - 'If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them'.
There's a few issues with this scripture. If we're going apply one part of it, then why not the other part. If homosexuality is an abomination, then why aren't the religious right campaigning for the death penalty for the LGBTI community? They're not taking this scripture seriously, so why even bother with it at all? One more thing, 'If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman ...', what happens if he has never laid with a woman and has no intention to because he finds women to be sexually repulsive. Perhaps the scripture only applies to heterosexuals who abandon their natural heterosexual orientation to get it on with a man. Something like what's mentioned in Romans 1:27, 'Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another ...'. This kind of implies that the men were heterosexual to start with and gave up the women for each other. Heterosexual experimentation could be screwed here, but homosexuals and bisexuals who are born that way are not really the target of this scripture.
The upshot is that the world has moved on from the cultural times of the ancient Middle East. We don't stone people. We don't marry hundreds of wives while also collecting concubines. King Solomon, I'm looking at you. According to 1 Kings 11:3, Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Oh and he was also the wisest man in the world.
So it's kind of funny in a bizarre, hypocritical, moving-goal-posts kind of way for anti-LGBTI Christians to declare Solomon's polygamy and infidelities to be redundant while stating that questionable anti-gay scripture is the ducks nuts. Or is this their own version of cultural relativism; that biblical culture is so equal to 21st century culture that we can apply 2,500 year old laws. But then there's the cultural issue with polygamy per King Solomon. I don't know. A difficult position to reconcile for the religious right.
Ancient laws are no way to run a modern society and no excuse for bullying, bigotry, hate-speech, persecution, violence.
Turnbull has acquiesced to the crazed Reds-under-the-bed, homophobic demands of the hysterical Cory Bernardi regarding the Safer Schools program, by granting a review into it. Bernardi's plan is that we shouldn't have Safer Schools. Gays be damned ... and bullied ... and bashed, all because children are being brought up in ultra-conservative homes where they learn that LGBTI people are an abomination and will suffer damnation at the hands of a loving God.
The Liberal Party has been pushing the fear-mongering mantra that a vote for Labor is a vote for a Union-led government. It is painfully clear, that a vote for the Liberal Party is a vote for a government controlled by religious extremists and rabid right-wing bigots.
Now, where can I buy some cultural relativism? Perhaps Acts 10:34 - God shows no partiality. That sounds relatively like cultural relativism. I think I'm going to need more of it in the lead up to the plebiscite.
Thank God for the Marxists.
1. Australian Human Rights Commission, 'Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersexual Equality', https://bullying.humanrights.gov.au/lesbian-gay-bisexual-trans-and-intersex-equality-1. Accessed 23 February 2016.
2. Australian Human Rights Commission, 'Face the facts: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex People', https://www.humanrights.gov.au/face-facts-lesbian-gay-bisexual-trans-and-intersex-people. Accessed 23 February 2016.
3. The Guardian, Shalailah Medhora, 'Turnbull orders review of Safe Schools LGBTI program after pressure from Cory Bernardi', 23 February 2016, http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/feb/23/turnbull-orders-review-safe-schools-lgbti-program-after-pressure-from-cory-bernardi. Accessed 23 February 2016.