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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Abbott: the architect of ugliness in the marriage equality debate

Abbott: the architect of ugliness in the marriage equality debate

It doesn't take former Prime Minister Tony Abbott long to demonise others for political expediency. It's how he rolls.

Within moments of being headbutted by a self-proclaimed hater, Abbott managed to accuse the Yes campaign of perpetrating most of 'ugliness' of the worsening Marriage Equality survey and to also state that crime against LGBTIQ people was 'long gone'. Eric Abetz, who was with Abbott that evening, made the contradictory statement that the incident wasn't typical of the Yes campaign, but it highlighted the general "ugliness" of the movement.(1) Abetz then said it was 'harbinger of what is likely to occur' if same-sex marriage were legalised(2).

As it turns out, Abbott was headbutted by Astro 'Funknukl' Labe, an anarchist and DJ from North Hobart, who has since stated that his actions had nothing to do with Marriage Equality and everything to do with fulfilling a life-long ambition to headbutt a fascist ... oh, that and his personal hatred of Tony Abbott. He went on to call Tony Abbott 'an evil c***', and stated 'It was nothing really remotely to do with that. It’s just about Tony Abbott, the f***ing worm that he is. ... All it was is I saw Tony Abbott and I’d had half a skinful and I wanted to nut the c***'.(3) Astro Labe waxed lyrical by describing Abbott as a 'completely disgusting person' who doesn't respect others. He went on to describe Abbott: 'He's one of the sickest examples of why Australian society is so archaic in 2017. There's no connection to the Bible in his actions. He's a gentrified rich kid. He personifies everything I hate politically, and he's not even good at it ... If I see an opportunity to improve my life and those around me by nutting Tony Abbott, I'm a pretty pragmatic guy'.(4) 

During a television interview on 22 September 2017, taking a contemplative drag on a cigarette, Labe explained, 'It has absolutely nothing to do with marriage equality. I decided I'm never going to get the opportunity to headbutt Tony Abbott again', with a what-can-I-do shrug of the shoulders, he concludes, 'so I seized the moment'.

This clearly articulated hatred of Abbott was Astro Labe's motivation for the headbutt, yet Abbott used this assault to attack the Yes campaign ... nothing like two wrongs making a ... oh wait, nothing right about that.

An ugly incident by a drunk anarchist fulfilling his bucket list, was exploited by Abbott to vilify the entire Yes campaign. 

The headbutt was an unacceptable form of political protest and Yes voters were quick to denounce it. As for Abbott's claim that most of the ugliness has been from the Yes campaign, here's a shortlist of the No campaign's crowning glories:
  • Violent assault and subsequent hospitalisation of the godson of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd(5). The perpetrator was allegedly yelling, 'I hate faggots! I f***ing hate faggots'.(6) 
  • A 14 year old girl received death threats from the father of a classmate(7)
  • Numerous accounts of vile homophobic abuse(8) 
  • Significant scare-mongering and blatant lies promulgated by many in the No campaign, some of which have been addressed on this blog previously (refer below to 'Related articles').
The demonisation of the Yes campaign is no great surprise. Many in the No camp have been trying to portray themselves as the victims in this debate, even though hate crime has been the cause of emotional and physical trauma, including killings, of LGBTIQ people for years ... often at the hands of those who are now in the No camp, opposing marriage equality.

Tony Abbott is the architect of the 'ugliness' of this debate. It was him that shirked his parliamentary responsibility by refusing to debate marriage equality, instead making a nefarious promise of a plebiscite at some distant time in the future. This kicked the issue so far downstream that Abbott was no longer Prime Minister when it was raised again.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was advised that the plebiscite-now-survey would be highly divisive, and would cause great harm to LGBTIQ people by sending the message that they're an aberration, that they're not normal, that their relationships are not legitimate or worth the same as a heterosexual person's relationships. Turnbull denied any claim that the marriage equality debate would be hurtful or offensive. Yet, here we are ... with violence, abuse, and irrational conclusions ... meanwhile, mental health agencies have reported an increase in the number of LGBTIQ people accessing their services since the survey was released(9). And Abbott and his ilk continue to victimise the victims of homophobic violence and abuse.

No voters are upset that people on the Yes side, are calling them bigots and homophobes ... even though for many of them, they are bigots and homophobes.

While it is ok to vote No because that's how you interpret the bible or because you believe in a 'traditional' family unit; what isn't ok is to spread fear and lies. A phobia is an 'irrational fear or aversion to something', so it is homophobic to perpetuate fear of marriage equality and LGBTIQ people. 

Many of the No camp's arguments have been irrational and pure rubbish, including claims linking marriage equality to pedophilia, bestiality, polygamy and marrying bridges. Some of these voters dispute the idea of anthropomorphic climate change but blame earthquakes, floods and hurricanes on same-sex marriage. At the No campaign launch, there was the claim that legalisation of marriage equality would usher in a period of thought crimes, in which it will be illegal in deed and thought to oppose same-sex marriage(10).

Nothing like a campaign of fear when you're trying to prove you're not homophobic.

Sadly, people love being scared and many a successful political campaign has been run on a platform of fear ... such as both John Howard and Tony Abbott whipping up racism and xenophobia, using fear of refugees and Muslims, to scare the electorate into voting for them. And disturbingly it worked.

The No campaign are well aware of the power of fear, hence their incessant attacks on the Yes camp, on LGBTIQ, on ill-defined concepts such as 'cultural Marxism', 'gender fluidity', 'neo-Marxist agenda'.

Poor ol' Karl Marx ... blamed for anything that Conservatives disagree with

As a side note, speaking of the Neo-Marxist Agenda, if I could speak to anyone in history it would be Karl Marx ... I want to know how he knows Neo and what their agenda is. Maybe there is something in this, after all The Matrix was a transgender film, whose director, Lana Wachowski was forced out of the closet during the making of the Matrix series. Some years later, Lana's sister and co-director of The Matrix, Lily Wachowski, also came out as being trans-gender(11). The Matrix was metaphor for transgender - take one pill and remain who you are, take the other and bust out of the Matrix, see how deep that rabbit hole goes. But I digress.

The No camp's pet claim is 'won't anyone think of the children'. Yet, 12% of same-sex couples have their own children living with them and their partner. Studies have shown that children in same-sex parented families do as well emotionally, socially and educationally as those in opposite-sex parented families(12).

Switching off the white noise and dog-whistling from the No campaign, Marriage Equality is purely about two consenting adults choosing to marry. The benefits from this include tangible mental health benefits that come from being an accepted member of society. It will mean true equality for their relationships, which is not currently the case. No campaigners claim there is equality, because of changes implemented in 2008 by Labor, to remove discrimination in de facto same-sex relationships. However, there are still differences not equality. Same-sex couples face far more rigour in proving their de facto status then opposite-sex couples, and for many, their next of kin status is not recognised which can add all sorts of complication and heartbreak to situations, including during health care or when one partner passes away(13)(14). Marriage Equality will remedy this.

Astro 'Funknukl' Labe - Abbott-hater & anarchist

Tony Abbott trying to turn Astro Labe's headbutt into something it isn't, is purely about turning the No campaign into the victims. However, LGBTIQ people have suffered hate, discrimination, stigma, rejection and violence for years(15). Despite Tony Abbott claiming that attacks on the LGBTIQ community are 'long-gone', this is not the case, with 18% of young LGBTIQ people experiencing physical homophobic abuse and 61% experiencing verbal homophobic abuse(16). A New Zealand pastor even preached a sermon in which he stated, 'My view on homo marriages is that the Bible never mentions it so I'm not against them getting married, as long as a bullet goes through their head the moment they kiss ... because that's what it talks about ... not homo marriage, but homo death'.(17)

When Abbott and many others in the No camp accuse Yes voters of being hypocritical in their intolerance of the No voters' freedom of speech, they are being disingenuous. No-one is stopping No voters from exercising their freedom of speech, however, people are calling out and challenging the veracity of their claims. This is not an attack on free speech, but the exercising of it. Freedom of speech includes the freedom of retort. In terms of tolerance, there is a little thing called the Paradox of Tolerance ... in other words, to tolerate intolerance is to destroy tolerance. It is necessary to challenge intolerance in order to preserve tolerance.

Yes voters are not stopping anyone from doing anything. That would be the No voters who wish to prevent two people from marrying the person they love and choose.

Kevin Rudd's godson, Sean - victim of  alleged homophobic bashing by No campaigner

Marriage Equality will help to remove the stigma and rejection that LGBTIQ people experience, and will help reduce the incidents of self-harm among LGBTIQ adolescent(18). Surely, if the No campaign is truly concerned about the children, this is plenty reason enough to vote FOR marriage equality, rather than continuing with the rejection and demonisation of LGBTIQ people.

It's time to move from headbutts, vile personal attacks and demonisation of LGBTIQ people, to wedding rings, marriage certificates and living happily ever after 'till death do us part' ... regardless of gender.


1. Herald Sun, Claire Bickers, Malcolm Turnbull condemns 'unAustralian' headbutt attack on Tony Abbott by gay marriage supporter, 22 September 2017, Accessed 22 September 2017.

2. The Age, Michael Koziol, Matt Maloney, 'Nothing to do with same-sex marriage': Anarchist DJ who headbutted Tony Abbott, 22 September 2017, Accessed 22 September 2017.

3. The Australian, Joe Kelly, Primrose Riordan, Tony Abbott 'headbutted': man charged, 22 September 2017, Accessed 22 September 2017.

4. The Guardian, Adam Morton, 'Nothing to do with marriage equality': alleged Tony Abbott attacker speaks out', 22 September 2017, Accessed 22 September 2017.

5. ABC News, Man charged with punching Kevin Rudd's godson in same-sex marriage row, 15 September 2017, Accessed 22 September 2017.

6. Huffington Post, Josh Butler, Kevin Rudd's Godson Allegedly Assaulted in  Homophobic Attack, 13 September 2017, Accessed 22 September 2017.

7. Pink News, Meka Beresford, 14-year-old targeted with death threats over support for marriage equality, 19 September 2017, Accessed 22 September 2017.

8. Huffington Post, Josh Butler, LGBTQ Aussies Share Stories of Vile Homophobic Abuse with #TheyGetToVote Hashtag, 14 September 2017, Accessed 22 September 2017.

9. ABC News, Same-sex marriage survey sparks spike in access of LGBTI mental health support, 18 September 2017, Accessed 22 September 2017.

10. The Sydney Morning Herald, Michael Koziol, Thought crime fears motivate same-sex marriage opponents at 'no' campaign launch, 16 September 2017, Accessed 22 September 2017.

11. The Huffington Post, E.A. Lockhart, Yes, 'The Matrix' is a Transgender Film, and Some of Us Noticed That a Long Time Ago, 9 June 2017, Accessed 22 September 2017.

12. Australian Government, Australian Institute of Family Studies, Lixia Qu, Ken Knight and Darryl Higgins, Same-sex couple families in Australia, September 2016, Accessed 22 September 2017.

13. SBS, Liam Elphick, Do same-sex couples really have the same rights as married couples? 21 September 2017, Accessed 23 September 2017.

14. Amnesty International, Hannah Robert, Fiona Kelly, Explainer: What Legal Benefits Do Married Couples Have That De Facto Couples Do Not?, 22 September 2017, Accessed 23 September 2017.

15. Australian Government, National Mental Health Commission, Statement on Marriage Equality, Accessed 22 September 2017.

16. ABC News, Jessica Haynes, SSM: Are attacks on the LGBTI community actually 'long gone', 22 September 2017, Accessed 23 September 2017.

17. New Zealand Herald, Dubby Henry, West Auckland pastor preaches gay people should be shot, 15 August 2017, Accessed 23 September 2017.

18. Black Dog Institute, Marriage equality improves mental health, 21 February 2017, Accessed 22 September 2017.

Related articles on Ranting Panda

Love is Love & Fear is Homophobia

NO! The YES campaign is NOT worse than Racism - a response to Karina Okotel's claims.

The simple right to say 'I Do' and the real consequences of marriage equality

The Tennis Legend, Lesbians and the Devil

Updated: 23 September 2017.

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