As the divisive and spiteful campaigning over the marriage equality plebiscite inches closer to the day of reckoning, the No camp have been claiming that legalising it will be an attack on their freedoms. Ironic, considering it is they who are trying to limit the freedoms of LGBTIQ people.
To support their claims, the No camp has regaled us with tales of misery and woe from nations that already have marriage equality. Most of these claims have been disproven and shown to be complete fabrications. Canada was one such nation, and yet Irwin Cottler, the former Canadian Justice Minister, has stated that marriage equality has had no impact on religious freedom, but has warned that Australia is exposing the LGBTIQ community to hatred through this public survey. Cottler went on to state that 'You don't have a referendum on minority rights issues ... As I said then, if this legislation passes the sky won’t fall and the earth won’t open up, and I said, five, 10 years from now this will not only be behind us but people will ask what was the fuss all about'.. And in fact that’s been the case in Canada. There’s a strong support now for same-sex legislation.' (1).
While the No camp continues with its fear campaign, it is the freedoms of LGBTIQ people and the supporters of marriage equality who are having their freedoms curtailed. For instance, American rapper, Macklemore, performed during the opening ceremony of the recent National Rugby League grand final. Controversially, he performed his hit song, Same Love, which had spent four weeks at number 1 on the Australian music charts, and is about love between people of the same gender. The No camp went into melt-down and declared that sport should not be politicised. In an act of sensationalist censorship, radio stations 2GB and 3AW refused to broadcast Macklemore performing the song, even though they were providing live coverage of the grand final. Instead, they cut to a rap song that broadcaster Ray Hadley had recorded with his daughter in 2012. Hadley claimed it had nothing to do with marriage equality, but was instead because he believed Australian performers should perform at the grand final(2). Yet, he recorded this five years before and hadn't replaced any other international acts during the intervening years with this self-indulgent song. If he really supported Aussie acts, why didn't he play an Aussie act? Freedom of speech? Censorship.
For the record, Macklemore's inspirational performance at the NRL 2017 grand final can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4TpOs8tqJ4
One of the No camp's claims is that people will lose their jobs for failing to support marriage equality, yet recently an Anglican priest was stood down for his support of marriage equality, which the church framed as having 'tones of blasphemy'(3). Interesting that the No camp isn't defending his freedom of speech.
Perhaps if we are to look at what is happening in other nations, the United States would be a good place to start. The United States Justice Department, is arguing that employers should be able to sack people for being gay(4). Additionally, the US Attorney-General, Jeff Sessions, issued a directive overturning a previous policy that had banned discrimination against transgender people(5).
This comes at a time when the feckless US President Donald Trump has banned transgender people from serving in the military(6) and has become the first US president to appear at a conference run by the actively anti-LGBTIQ organisation, Family Research Council, that has been classified as a hate group. The Summit attracts religious extremists, white supremacists and far-right activists(7), and promotes conversion therapy. In other words, they want to force LGBTIQ people to converted to heterosexuality, a process renowned for the harm it can cause(8). Sadly, there are some in the No camp in Australia who promote conversion therapy and uphold Donald Trump as the ultimate freedom fighter against the hordes of gay-agenda-pushing neo-Marxists trying to tear down the fabric of western society. Because, you know, marriage equality will do that ... where's an interrobang when you need one!?
Attending forums run by hate groups isn't just the domain of the United States, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott addressed the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a staunch anti-LGBTIQ organisation that's been deemed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Centre. The ADF supports recriminalising homosexuality. Abbott addressed the ADF in January 2016 when he spoke against marriage equality. He will again address them later this month.(9)
This followed hot on the heels of the US voting against a United Nations resolution condemning the death penalty being imposed for having gay sex. There are six countries that actually execute people for being in same-sex relationships: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria and Somalia. In doing so, the US joined 12 other nations to support executing gay people, including China, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.(10)
There is no attack on the freedom of religion or freedom of speech of those opposed to marriage equality. Instead, the almost militant No camp is propagating the hate and abuse that LGBTIQ people have experienced for years. The No camp is demonising the Yes campaign and making it into some sort of battle against political correctness. They are making this into anything but about the real issue, which is that consenting adults want to be able to marry they person they love, regardless of gender. LGBTIQ people simply want the same rights as everyone else to marry. Hence ... wait for it ... marriage EQUALITY. The fabric of society will not unravel if Adam and Steve marry each other.
Challenging the lies and bigotry of the No camp is not an attack on their freedom of speech. It is, however the exercising of freedom of speech by those who are not fooled by the homophobic fear campaign being waged by the No camp.
So why is this so significant? Many on the No camp claim they are voting No 'for the children'. Yet, their very behaviour is exactly what is causing great angst and increased self-harm among LGBTIQ children. They have opposed the Safe Schools program which aimed to teach students tolerance and understanding of LGBTIQ people and hopefully end bullying. Looking at how their parents are carrying on, the country needs the Safe Schools program more than ever. Clearly, they do not understand the negative impact that their actions have on people. National Party senator Matt Canavan displayed his ignorance of this when he said that people should 'stop being delicate little flowers and have a proper debate ... Can’t we all just grow a spine and grow up? ... The debate hasn’t been that bad.' Not surprisingly, mental health experts criticised Canavan. Before calling this public survey, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was warned that this debate would be toxic and harmful to LGBTIQ people. Mental Health organisations have seen a significant increase in people accessing their services since the survey was called.(11)
Demonstrating the No camp's complete lack of concern for children, the head of the Australian Christian Lobby, stated that claims of LGBTIQ suicides were emotional blackmail, even though five mental health groups have advised that legalising marriage equality could prevent 3,000 adolescents from attempting suicide per year.(12) This isn't just a lack of concern, it is the outward expression of hatred towards LGBTIQ people by people who claim to be Christian, who claim to be defenders of the nation's moral values. Apparently, when given a choice between suicide and marriage equality, these 'Christians' would rather see kids kill themselves, while accusing them of emotional blackmail, than allow loving people to marry. No wonder, there is such a high incidence of self-harm among young LGBTIQ people, when they are made to feel they have no future; when they are made to feel they are an abomination in the eyes of a God who would rather they die than live a normal life.
Author Jodi Picoult most succinctly expresses the importance of acceptance of LGBTIQ people, when she stated, 'Gay teenagers are four times as likely to attempt suicide as straight ones. I wish they knew that there's nothing wrong with them; that they are just a different shade of normal'.
Voting for marriage equality is not forcing others to do anything they don't want. That would be the No camp who are forcing LGBTIQ people to live by the values imposed by people who propagate fear and hate. The No camp is fighting tooth and nail to protect their own selfish and misplaced interests. This selfishness that forces bigotry in the name of 'family values', was summed up in the word of the renowned writer, Oscar Wilde, a person who suffered for years, including being jailed and exiled, because of his homosexuality ... and just a reminder, Tony Abbott will have twice addressed a group that supports recriminalising homosexuality. Wilde's words resonate today as much as they did more than 100 years ago and perfectly describe the selfishness of the No camp:
'Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live'.
The No campaign has included advertising which uses dog-whistling typical of people who have never been oppressed or victimised. It claims marriage equality is 'political correctness' being run by the 'thought police', and invokes the boogey man of 'unknown consequences'. The No campaign may as well replace their ads with people running around in circles carrying signs warning the sky will fall in, while screeching, 'help, help, I'm being oppressed because I can't oppress others'.
In Oscar Wilde's day, the homophobes wanted LGBTIQ people in the closet. 100 years later, they still want the 'love that dare not speak its name' to remain unspoken - this is the real attack on freedom; the attack on equality.
Taking this further, and revealing their true aim, anti-marriage-equality group, The Coalition for Marriage, stated in an interview with The Guardian on 20 October 2017, that they supported the right of service providers to refuse service for any wedding whose 'message' they disagreed with. This was in response to numerous questions from The Guardian which included scenarios such as 'mixed faith, mixed race, who had engaged in sex before marriage, used contraception or been divorced'.(13) This is the real threat from the No campaign, the actual attempt to dismantle anti-discrimination legislation, to allow discrimination ... it is no wonder that the No campaigners are being called homophobes and bigots when they are supporting the right to discriminate based on sexual orientation, race or any other criteria these small-minded people disagree with.
And they claim it is the Yes campaign that is attacking freedom of speech and religion‽ They hide behind the facade of religion when it suits them. I'm sure we're all familiar with their hypocritical support of the human rights abuses meted out by right-wing politicians in direct contravention of the bible that says to look after the poor, the widow, the oppressed and the 'stranger in the land' (the refugee), while these same politicians claimed to be Christian.
To quote from Dan Brown's latest novel, Origin, 'To permit ignorance is to empower it'. Lyle Shelton has already stated that if Yes is victorious, then the No campaign will continue unabated(14), so regardless of the outcome of the survey, the bigotry of the No campaign must continue to be challenged.
This public survey should never have happened. Politicians are the only ones who can change the law. They should have just put the marriage bill to parliament and voted on it ... as they will have to do once the survey is over. Rather than making an issue of 'same-sex' marriage and all the hate and fear that has accompanied opposition to it, it should be called for what it is ... marriage equality ... or simply: marriage.
|Pink on marriage in interview with Gaydar Radio, 19 September 2012(15)|
1. Nine News, Mary Jordan, 'It affects nobody else': Former Canadian Justice Minister says marriage equality hasn't hurt religious freedoms, 12 October 2017, http://www.9news.com.au/national/2017/10/10/12/38/canadian-ex-justice-minister-says-marriage-plebiscite-brings-ugliness. Accessed 17 October 2017.
2. Sydney Morning Herald, Broede Carmody, 2GB, 3AW didn't play Macklemore song during NRL broadcast, 2 October 2017, http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/music/2gb-3aw-didnt-play-macklemore-song-during-nrl-broadcast-20171002-gysmew.html. Accessed 17 October 2017.
3. SBS, Natasha Christian, Priest who supports same-sex marriage suspended from Anglican Church for 'tones of blasphemy', 2 October 2017, http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/10/02/priest-who-supports-same-sex-marriage-suspended-anglican-church-tones-blasphemy. Accessed 17 October 2017.
4. The Independent, Tom Embury-Dennis, Donald Trump's Justice Department launches bid to make being gay a sackable offence, 27 September 2017, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-gay-sacked-fired-offence-homosexuality-doj-justice-department-a7969601.html. Accessed 17 October 2017.
5. Buzzfeed, Dominic Holden, Jeff Sessions Just Reversed A Policy That Protects Transgender Workers From Discrimination, 6 October 2017, https://www.buzzfeed.com/dominicholden/jeff-sessions-just-reversed-a-policy-that-protects. Accessed 17 October 2017.
6. ABC, Donald Trump says transgender individuals can no longer serve in US military in any capacity, 27 July 2017, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-26/trump-says-no-transgender-individuals-will-serve-in-us-military/8747018. Accessed 17 October 2017.
7. The Independent, Maya Oppenheim, Donald Trump to become first president to speak at anti-LGBT hate group's annual summit, 12 October 2017, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-anti-lgbt-address-hate-group-summit-meeting-first-president-us-homphobia-a7997401.html. Accessed 17 October 2017.
8. Human Rights Campaign, The Lies and Dangers of Efforts to Change Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity, https://www.hrc.org/resources/the-lies-and-dangers-of-reparative-therapy. Accessed 17 October 2017.
9. Huffington Post, Josh Butler, Tony Abbott To Visit Anti-LGBTIQ 'Hate Group' Again, 19 October 2017, http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/10/19/tony-abbott-to-visit-anti-lgbtq-hate-group-again_a_23248365/. Accessed 19 October 2017
10. The Independent, Tom Embury-Dennis, US votes against UN resolution condemning gay sex death penalty, joining Iraq and Saudi Arabia, 3 October 2017, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-gay-sex-death-penalty-un-same-sex-relations-human-rights-council-saudi-arabia-iraq-nikki-haley-a7980981.html. Accessed 17 October 2017.
11. The Guardian, Paul Karp, Mental health expert attacks Canavan's 'grow a spine' comment on marriage equality, 18 September 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/sep/18/mental-health-expert-attacks-canavans-grow-a-spine-comment-on-marriage-equality. Accessed 17 October 2017.
12. The New Daily, Luke Henriques Gomes, LGBTI suicide fears are ‘emotional blackmail’, says ‘No’ campaigner Lyle Shelton, 18 October 2017, http://thenewdaily.com.au/news/national/2017/10/18/lyle-shelton-interview/. Accessed 19 October 2017.
13. The Guardian, Paul Karp, Marriage equality opponents call for broad right to discriminate, 21 October 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/oct/21/marriage-equality-opponents-call-for-broad-right-to-discriminate. Accessed 21 October 2017.
14. Star Observer, Jess Jones, Lyle Shelton says the No campaign won't take Yes for an answer, 19 October 2017, http://www.starobserver.com.au/news/national-news/lyle-shelton-says-no-campaign-wont-take-yes-answer/163003. Accessed 21 October 2017.
15. Huffington Post, Pink Talks Gay Marriage, LGBT Fans And 2012 Election In New Interview, 20 September 2012, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/20/pink-gay-marriage-lgbt-fans-interview-_n_1901584.html. Accessed 17 October 2017.
Updated 21 October 2017.