Article in the Sunday Age - and is Lapkin's usual "standard" of right-wing reactionary homophobic "opinion" posing as intelligent viewpoint:
GREENS MP Adam Bandt bit off a bit more than he could chew with his parliamentary motion calling on fellow MPs to canvas public opinion on the issue of same-sex marriage. The measure passed through the House of Representatives last November with a one-vote majority and the numbers are now in.
And while you have to give Bandt full thespian credit for putting a brave face on disappointment, the results are lopsidedly in his disfavour. Only a handful out of the 30 MPs who reported back to Parliament were prepared to state that a majority of their constituents supported gay marriage.
In fact, the tide is running strongly against the idea of amending the Commonwealth Marriage Act even in Labor-held electorates. In the suburban Melbourne seat of Deakin, the ALP's Mike Symon indicated that more than 93 per cent of the 1015 people he surveyed were opposed to same-sex nuptials. These electorate surveys were hardly scientific, and published opinion polls are more evenly divided, but even when religious faith is excised from the equation, there are valid reasons to take a jaundiced view of the push for gay marriage.
All Australians are entitled to the same rights and privileges as citizens of our democracy. Each and every one of us - gay or straight, black or white, believer or non-believer - is entitled to identical protections of law in our individual persons and property.
But despite the impassioned arguments of Adam Bandt and others, the debate over same-sex marriage does not pertain to individual rights. It instead revolves around the demand that collective privileges be conferred upon a group whose self-definition relates to what its members do in the bedroom.
Gay rights activists hasten to assure us that any redefinition of marriage to include same-sex unions will end right there. We're promised there'll be no flow-on effects and that the door to further changes won't be left ajar.
But I've been around politics long enough to know that once the goal posts begin to shift, the precedent for further change has already been established. You can rest assured there'll be other aggrieved groups waiting in the wings, eager to push the envelope further.
Case in point: American polygamist Kody Brown. He is a fundamentalist Mormon from the state of Utah whose family unit includes four wives and 16 children. And he's so proud of his lifestyle that his clan was featured on a TV show entitled Sister Wives. But Brown is more than a television reality star. He's also the plaintiff in a lawsuit intended to strike down America's bigamy statutes. The lynchpin of his legal pleading is premised upon the 2003 US Supreme Court Lawrence v Texas ruling that overturned America's sodomy laws.
And truth be told, there's something to be said for the logic of Brown's argument. If restriction of marriage to male-female couples is the indefensible fruit of prejudice, isn't it equally bigoted to impose arbitrary limits on the number of spouses one can take?
So if Adam Bandt is pushing for same-sex marriage to be legitimised by law, shouldn't he be cheerleading for polygamy as well?
And then the next cab off the rank will surely be consensual sex between adult brothers and sisters, adult fathers and daughters or adult mothers and sons. After all, we're told individual choice is Holy Writ in such matters. And if people over the age of 18 years freely want to indulge in incestuous pursuits, who are we to tell them they can't do whomever they want to do?
So we should bear in mind that those guarantees about the buck stopping at same-sex marriage will, in reality, guarantee nothing. The floodgates will inevitably open to a further slide down the slippery slope of social disintegration.
Advocates of same-sex marriage also like to liken their situation to that of interracial couples living in the pre-civil rights-era American South. But sexual activity is volitional. As a heterosexual man committed to monogamy, I restrain my natural libidinous impulses. And I have friends who ignore their sexual attraction to persons of the same gender for the sake of their commitment to celibacy.
By contrast, I can't simply decide one day to abandon my Ashkenazi Jewish ethnic origins. I'm stuck with them. And it's this crucial distinction between who you are and what you do that nullifies the gay rights pseudo-equation between sexual preference and race/ethnicity.
The ''sexuality-equals-race'' argument falls short on other grounds, as well. People of different racial and ethnic categories have been falling in love since time immemorial. In the Hebrew Bible we read how Moses took an ''Isha Kushit'' - a black woman - as his wife. Inter-group romance is the historical norm while those obnoxious Jim Crow anti-miscegenation laws were an ephemeral aberration from it.
Yet it's notable that the annals of humanity are devoid of any similar precedent that would legitimate same-sex nuptials. Across continents and centuries, the institution of marriage has invariably involved the male-female family model.
And that's because of the kids. The universality of the traditional father-mother family unit stems from the superior child-rearing environment it provides. And the promotion of children's best interests makes it entirely appropriate for the state to preference heterosexual marriage in law and practice.
Of course, it's true that traditional marriages don't always succeed, and that there are far too many single-parent households. And I'll concede that many gay families provide loving environments to the child of whichever partner was involved in the gestational process. But exceptions don't invalidate the state's legitimate interest in retaining limitations on marriage that exclude a family model where the father-mother unit is impossible by definition. Nothing in any of my arguments would preclude the ability of same-sex couples to come together, live together and love together as they have been doing for time immemorial.
But the institution of marriage should remain as it's always been - the union of a single man and single woman who come together for the primary purpose of rearing the healthiest children possible.Ted Lapkin was a ministerial adviser to the federal Coalition, and was communications director to a senior member of the Republican leadership in the US Congress.
The Sunday Age managed to publish some letters telling Ted Lapkin he didn't know what he was talking about:
IN A trifecta of poor reasoning, Ted Lapkin manages to invoke three hopeless arguments against same-sex marriage (''Too much to bear'', 28/8). First comes the claim that it will open the floodgates to polygamous and incestuous marriages since the same reasoning that justifies same-sex marriages justifies these unions. False: the state has good independent reasons to prohibit these unions. These include inheritance law and health.
Second comes the claim that discrimination based on sexual orientation is not analogous to racism because race is not under voluntary control, while acting on one's sexual desires is. This argument slides from the voluntariness of individual actions to the voluntariness of orientation - the fallacy of equivocation.
Third, Lapkin identifies a basis that would justify the state's action in prohibiting same-sex marriages: the wellbeing of children. Unfortunately, Lapkin provides no evidence for the superiority of traditional parenting arrangements in this regard. And this is understandable because study after study has shown that traditional marriage enjoys no such advantage when it comes to raising children.ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR DIRK BALTZLY, Monash University
TED Lapkin's main objection to gay marriage is that any change to the Marriage Act would ''open the floodgates to a further slide down the slippery slope of social disintegration''. The facts are not with him. The Marriage Act has been changed already to allow a degree of sharia law into Australia. Changes to the Family Law Act in 2008 meant that polygamous religious marriages entered into in Australia are also recognised as de facto marriages. That means a second wife can be validly married under Islamic law and become a de facto wife under Australian law with the entitlements of other de factos. This change began in 2008 and excited little opposition, apart from that of Bronwyn Bishop.MALCOLM RONAN, North Balwyn
WHY every time anyone opposes gay marriage, the logical step is to leap straight into sex with one's family members (incest), several other people (polygamy) or some kind of exotic animal (bestiality)? Has anyone who opposes this argument ever considered the fact that gay people who are entering into a relationship only commit to one person, who is neither animal, nor family member, nor polygamous, nor any range of foodstuff. Stop making ridiculous arguments.LAURI SACKER, Elsternwick
THE thing that always seems to be missing in the same sex-marriage debate is the reason for marriage itself. Marriage exists for one reason and one reason only: the consolidation of assets. Yes, you can marry for love and you can marry for children but the primary reason that marriage came into existence is because someone who was not too well off wanted their daughter or son to marry someone who was much better off, thereby becoming better off themselves.
Let's face it; no one needs to be married to raise a child or to be in love. But the laws for married couples offer much better financial protection than do the laws for de facto couples. Same-sex couples would be much better off financially if they were allowed to marry. Is that the real reason for all the opposition?DAVID JEFFERY, East Geelong
LAPKIN may be able to abandon his ethnic origins and its cultural trappings far easier than anyone can change their sexuality. As a survivor of suicidal ideation fighting my sexuality over my teens, it's a thoughtless insult that he would think being gay is merely a choice of activity. We fall in love and we want to share that wonderment just like everyone else.
Same-sex marriage will be another great step climbing up that slippery slope from where people thought it their God-given obligation to stone homosexuals and adulterers to death outside their village.ERIC GLARE, Elwood
IF WE say no to gay marriage on the basis of Ted Lapkin's argument, then surely we must also deny marriage to people, such as myself, who are unable to have children for whatever reason. For, according to Lapkin, the institution of marriage is primarily for producing and rearing children.ANN WILSON, Castlemaine
Article in The Age - Christos Tsiolkas telling Margaret Court her homophobia is unacceptable:
'Having a sportsperson like Court mouth bigoted rubbish is cruel and damaging,' says Christos Tsiolkas. Photo: Wayne Taylor
WRITER Christos Tsiolkas has hit out at tennis champion Margaret Court for her anti-gay views.
Reverend Court, now a pastor at Perth's Victory Life Centre church, angered gay activists recently when she said she opposed gay marriage because it would ''legitimise what God calls abominable sexual practices'', leading some to call for her name to be removed from the court named after her at Melbourne Park.
Reverend Court is expected to attend the Australian Open this week.
Tsiolkas, author of The Slap, yesterday voiced his support for activists who are flying rainbow flags in Margaret Court Arena throughout the tournament as a sign of protest. ''Sport is such a big part of cultural life in Australia that having a sportsperson like Court mouth bigoted rubbish is cruel and damaging,'' the multi-award-winning author said in a statement released by the Rainbow Flags Over Margaret Court Arena group.
''I don't know whether she is a mother or grandmother but she would be an aunt or godmother. Her words could be hurting a niece or a nephew or a godchild who is trying to deal with their sexuality right now.
''Her comments would also be hurting and confusing many young people, especially sportspeople, who want to look up to her as a source of inspiration and pride.
''She's a great tennis player but that doesn't excuse hate.''
Victorian Liberal MP Bernie Finn has criticised the gay activists for what he has described as ''extremist'' tactics.
''We have seen, unfortunately, a very small section of the gay community - and I think these people have actually done an enormous amount of damage to the gay community - these extremists who have embarked on a program of rainbow fascism,'' Mr Finn said last week.
The Russian hypocrisy is on a level with the worst types of homophobia around the world, and considering how many famous Russians are/were gay or lesbian, the Russians are hiding behind their own cloistered homosexuality. In the year 2012 one would hope they would start waking up to themselves, particularly with macho Putin prancing around half-naked to show how well-proportioned he is (Many suspect he is a closet homo, but we wouldn't be too happy to admit him to the fraternity/sorority or whatever!). The trouble is his brain was missed out in the process. All he knows is brute force and ignorance, a recipe for dictatorships around the world.
Interestingly, the number of famous gays and lesbians from Russia reads like an honours list and should give great hope and encouragement to so many around the world living in repressive regimes. Here are some of them:Peter the Great
This article was in Care2 on 4 May 2012:
LGBT rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev has become the first person to be convicted under St Petersburg’s gay propaganda ban.
Reports the Washington Post:
Nikolai Alexeyev told the Associated Press that a city court in St. Petersburg fined him 5,000 rubles ($170) for breaching the law, which was controversially introduced by lawmakers in Russia’s second-largest city in February. He pledged to appeal the decision. [...] He said the judge has not presented the grounds for her decision, and that they will only be available next week. Calls to the court went unanswered shortly after the ruling.
The law was approved in February and came into force in March. As noted above, this is the first time a citizen has been charged under the ban’s provisions.
A judge late last month however declined to invoke the penalty, specifically saying that the ban on “homosexual propaganda” was so broad and ill-defined it lacked a sufficient legal framework to make it enforceable.
Alexeyev, a former journalist, turned to LGBT rights promotion in 2005 and subsequently founded the gay rights advocacy group GayRussia. He has been a vocal opponent of the ban, saying that its wide ranging nature speaks to a larger climate of oppression Russia is currently suffering under.
The propaganda ban is of course purposefully broad though. It is designed to prevent open advocacy of LGBT identity in the public sphere, this under the guise of protecting children. Critics have pointed out that this would serve to ban gay pride events outright, in direct opposition to European mandates of freedom of speech and assembly.
Seventeen Russian protesters were arrested during a May Day march this week with police charging them under St Petersburg’s ban on homosexual propaganda and with failure to comply with police orders, all because they were trying to fly rainbow flags.
The Ryazan, Kostroma and Arkhangelsk regions have also banned so-called LGBT propaganda and there is now a push to enact a federal ban.
It recently emerged that the propaganda ban is likely to have been inspired by a visiting US evangelical.Read more: FIRST RUSSIAN IS CONVICTED OF GAY PROPAGANDA
Bob Carr, Australia's foreign minister, was quoted on ABC radio on Wednesday 15 January 2013 as saying that he welcomes a re-opening of a North Korean embassy in Canberra because it would allow Australia to draw attention to human rights abuses in North Korea.
This is the same Bob Carr who was premier of New South Wales for about 10 years during which he found it difficult to equalise age of consent for sexual relations between heteros and homos.
This is the same Bob Carr who is now part of the Gillard Australian Labor Party (sic)government which has just granted exemptions for religious bodies from equal human rights for the Gay Lesbian, Transgender, HIV (GLTH) members of the community on the grounds that they can choose who meets their religious requirements in the running of their organisations such as aged care, schools and other religious institutions!
And before finishing with Bob Carr let us consider his and his government's deepest hypocrisy in relation to nuclear countries such as North Korea and those not EVER mentioned as nuclear powers such as Israel, because we - read US bumboys or arselickers - consider ourselves as being one of Israel's closest allies. (Let them occupy the whole of the west bank and Gaza and there will be no further problem in Israel and Palestine because Palestine will no longer exist!)
It is difficult to know where to begin with this whole ghastly story of "O What a Tangled Web We Weave..........." because we should all have learnt by now that governments of all permutations and combinations lie to us all the time and cover up those issues which they don't want us ever to find out about - Julian Assange comes to mind.
But back to the present dilemma. Gillard and her government are stacked with homophobes, from Gillard herself to Roxon, Swan, Plibersek, Combet, Ferguson, Danby, Wong - yes you read correctly - she is a Christian lesbian (a contradiction in terms - tautology?) and others too numerous to mention. The hypocrisy starts with issues like gay marriage, gays employed in religious institutions, gays in positions of authority in various capacities, and religious institutions which pay no taxes but claim exemption on the grounds of reverse discrimination.
This article by David Marr appeared in The Age on Monday 14 January 2013 and explains much better than I can what is meant by hypocrisy in this government, led by an atheist and kowtowing to the religious right and all its adherents in order to ensure their support at the next election and for as long as possible into the future.
This was followed by letters in The Age on the next two days:
The exemptions proposed under federal discrimination law (Comment, 14/1) are not in plain English. The section should be retitled ''Support for bigotry'' and should be explicitly opt in. Then we can clearly see which religions endorse bigotry.
Further, it's deeply hypocritical for those who give money or attend services to say, ''Oh, I don't support XYZ actions of my religion but still call myself a member.'' If you continue to belong, you visibly endorse the actions of the leadership and are answerable for what is done in your name.Janine Truter, The Basin
Will Tony Abbott oppose the discriminatory anti-discrimination bill? Me thinks not.Alan Williams, Port Melbourne
IT BEGGARS belief that in a secular society, the church and, in particular, the Catholic Church, can hold such sway over the lives of ordinary Australians (''Labor's anti-discrimination legislation is a bigots' charter'', Comment, 14/1). Publicly funded institutions should not be able to discriminate against those who do not subscribe to a particular religious point of view.
But it is not only employees who are discriminated against; public Catholic maternity hospitals don't give their patients a three-month scan, presumably for fear they may choose to terminate if the scan throws up something untoward with the foetus.
Australia was formed as a secular state so why does our government collude with the churches?Megan Peniston-Bird, Hawthorn
RELIGION is creeping insidiously into Australian politics and it will eventually backfire on those promoting it. It's bad enough that Labor cosies up to the Australian Christian Lobby, which only represents itself and not most Christians, let alone the wider community. This coupled with Labor continuing the Howard government's ideological blunder of placing fundamentalist chaplains in state schools reeks of special privilege to one sector of society.
Many socially progressive issues are being ignored by parliamentarians reliant on the faith-gene instead of rational and compassionate thinking. The Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill is a disgraceful display of kowtowing to religious leaders who are out of touch with the electorate.David Nicholls, president, Atheist Foundation of Australia, Maitland, SA
It’s not OK to discriminate in regard to colour, age or sex, that is unless you are an organisation that believes in a book written many hundreds of years ago.Geoff Lane, Gisborne
This article by Jonathan Swan was in The Age newspaper on 16 January 2013 and provides the news of the Gillard government's ongoing pandering to the religious right bigots who have her ear and provide so many of the votes.
When finally one day governments in Australia have the guts to tax religions we might be on the way to equality - and pigs will fly!!
GLTH people may work for us and we will gladly take their taxes, but EQUALITY??? Not in our lifetimes!(RED-JOS COMMENTS)
The following article appeared in The Age on 17 January 2013, and the letters following the article are relevant to this and an earlier post. You have to ask yourself how low can this government get? Isn't it at rock-bottom yet? It must be pretty close by now!
The draft bill makes clearer which groups religious organisations can discriminate against lawfully.
Religious organisations, including those funded by the state government, retain their legal right to discriminate against pregnant women under a new human rights bill. The draft of the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill consolidates five existing federal discrimination laws after a decades-long campaign by lawyers and human rights advocates. The draft bill makes clearer which groups religious organisations can discriminate against lawfully.
Under the draft bill, faith-based groups, including schools and hospitals, can still refuse to hire people because of a wide range of attributes that would be unlawful for any other organisation, including women who are pregnant or potentially pregnant.
When the Sex Discrimination Act - which came into force in 1984 - was drafted, a number of religious bodies argued they should be allowed to discriminate against pregnant or ''potentially pregnant'' women to avoid having to employ unwed mothers.
The Human Rights Law Centre's director of advocacy and strategic litigation, Anna Brown, said that while the bill introduced important new protections from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and removed the ability of religious bodies to discriminate on the basis of age, sex and breastfeeding, it was a ''missed opportunity'' to narrow the broad exemptions available to religious groups.
Weet-Bix manufacturer Sanitarium is a religious organisation owned and operated by the Seventh-Day Adventist church, which means it could discriminate against people with these attributes.
An online advertisement for a manufacturing team leader position with the company says: ''If you share our passion for what we do, our products and you can align with our Christian-based principles this is a great opportunity for you.''
Sanitarium spokeswoman Julie Praestiin said the company's workplace culture was ''grounded on Christian-based values of care, courage, humility, integrity and passion which are generally shared by the Australian community''.
She said Sanitarium complied with employment laws. ''We are an equal opportunity employer and have a diverse workforce which encompasses a variety of cultures and worldviews. Religious belief is not a condition of employment.''
Hugh de Kretser, executive officer of the Federation of Community Legal Centres, said that Sanitarium, which is understood to have a turnover of $300 million a year – although the church is not required to lodge Sanitarium's financial reports – should not be allowed to discriminate.
''That a large organisation with a turnover of $300 million a year is given a green light by the law to discriminate highlights the problems with these exemptions,'' he said.
''It's about balancing freedom of religion from freedom from discrimination, and getting it right as to where we draw the line. And examples like this show that the exemptions need to be wound back.''
President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Professor Gillian Triggs, said that the government had aimed to consolidate laws rather than ''embark on full-scale reform''.
Professor Triggs acknowledged that there were some tensions between how the bill protected different human rights. ''In a secular society such as Australia . . . one does not want to give any sort of particular priority to one freedom above the right of people to non-discriminatory employment.'' She said it was important ''that we don't throw the baby out with the bathwater'' as the bill was the first step towards creating a coherent federal human rights system.Jane.Lee@fairfaxmedia.com.au ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
THE Gillard government had the opportunity to create a law that prevented discrimination against workers and volunteers on the basis of certain ''attributes'' including sexuality and single parenthood. Instead it chose to exclude faith-based organisations (The Age, 16/1) from this even though they receive billions of dollars of taxpayers' money, via funding agreements with governments, to provide essential education, health and community services. Frequently they are the sole local service provider.
Imagine how it feels to know you are denigrated to such an extent that, no matter how experienced and competent you are at work, you can be sacked with no redress because your very being ''injures the religious sensitivities of adherents of that religion''. What do taxpayer-funded, universal services have to do with religious sensitivities? This is a human rights issue that should involve the whole community. I am still haunted by the car stickers proclaiming ''Kill a Queer for Christ'' that I saw in the United States. Bad things happen when good people do nothing.Lyn McKenzie, Fitzroy
IN 1981, a friend was sacked from his teaching job at a Catholic school in Geelong after he let slip to a colleague that he was living with his girlfriend. That such action was legal in the 1980s was lamentable. Fast forward to 2013 and the legality of that bigotry is about to be enshrined in the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill. Haven't we come a long way?Richard Aspland, Rosanna
SO RELIGIOUS groups can refuse to hire law-abiding people they deem to be sinners. Presumably they will not get too upset if I refuse to hire someone because they are religious. Do unto others…Andy Stewart, Coburg
FAR from being the courageous leader she markets herself as, Julia Gillard lacks a spine. She also betrays the real values of Labor and sells out a fairer Australia for base political interests. It is bad enough that she is happy to entrench discrimination against those who face discrimination in their daily lives. Worse is that Penny Wong, an openly gay person, says she is seeking ''to balance the existing law and the practice of religious exemptions with the principle of non-discrimination''. There is no balance when discrimination is legislated. Labor's move to the extreme right of politics is complete. Shame on Gillard and Wong.Douglas Potter, Surrey Hills
RELIGIOUS groups discriminate against gays because the Bible tells them it is OK to hate them. Shamefully, the government agrees. I am looking forward to religious groups sacking menstruating women and those who eat shellfish, trim their beards and wear clothes of mixed material. However, owning and beating slaves is OK.Ian Smith, Whittlesea
SHAME on Gillard for giving in to bullying by the so-called Australian Christian Lobby. No government should condone discrimination.Robert Humphreys, Coburg
TO THOSE faith-based organisations that don't want me as an employee: do you still want my taxes?Michael Dalton, Yarraville
CHURCHES can discriminate against those who are ''different''. That's a lovely Christian attitude. What utter hypocrisy.Keith Beman, Woodend
GIVEN the revelations of clergy abuse, the last thing churches should be allowed to do is ''vet the sexual practices of potential employees''.Benjamin Doherty, West Melbourne
GILLARD is our most disappointing atheist prime minister. She could have promoted tolerance and rationality, but she caved in to superstitious bigotry.Terry Kelly, Carlton North
........and to add insult to injury, WE have to continue to pay our taxes and those who discriminate DON'T pay any at all!!! (RED_JOS COMMENT)
A still from Gayby Baby that fuelled controversy as it was distributed to parents on a flyer at Burwood Girls High School in Sydney. Photo: Supplied
I went on a time-travelling adventure last week. It wasn't by building some kind of complicated contraption or getting into a magic phone booth with Bill and Ted. All I had to do was pick up a copy of The Daily Telegraph, and it was as though I had instantaneously travelled back to the 1950s.
The front page of the paper shouted "GAY CLASS UPROAR" at readers, which was unfortunately not about an overthrowing of the class system by gay people. Instead, the cover took umbrage at a planned screening of a documentary about same-sex families called Gayby Baby at Burwood Girls High, as part of a "Wear It Purple" campaign to support LGBTQI youth. All students were free to opt out of both the screening and the wearing of purple. Horrific stuff, I know.
I won't accept your 'tolerance' for us. That word implies putting up with, allowing the existence of.
Considering it is actually 2015 and not 1955, this seems like a reasonable scenario that nobody could have a problem with, right? Wrong.
Accompanying the headline was an article written by Piers Akerman, mid-century king. Akerman used his column to claim numerous parents had complained about the screening (since disputed), call for the Burwood principal to be punished for such flagrant inclusiveness, and to top the entire hate sundae off with a poisonous cherry, addressed one of the children from the documentary directly to helpfully inform her (again, an actual child) that she isn't normal.
As a well-adjusted lesbian in my 30s with no children (except cats), reading the coverage was jarring and upsetting. I can't imagine what it was like for same-sex parents, or their children. If it felt like an attack on them, it was. The Daily Telegraph sent a deliberate message there is something intrinsically wrong with their families.
The subsequent intervention of NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli demanding that Gayby Baby not be played to students during school hours was equally jarring. His action not only denied students the opportunity to see an inclusive film, but also legitimised the homophobic and senseless arguments targeting the documentary, and by extension, LGBTQI people and their families.
It is a truly disheartening feeling to see a newspaper cover denigrating your community, followed by comments discussing your "abnormality", topped off by politicians deciding that a movie portraying our loving families is too risky or provocative to show to teenagers. We know what real-life damage this kind of homophobia and stigmatising can do to the hearts, minds and lives of queer people. And all of these things happened in one day. However, it was reading NSW Premier Mike Baird's comments on the situation that caused me to turn green with anger as the lurking Lesbian Hulk inside me burst out.
He said: "I think tolerance is a good thing. But I think there should be some parameters around it … This is something that can be provided but done outside class time."
First of all, I think following up "tolerance is a good thing" with the word "but" and "parameters" took the wind out of the sails on Baird's Inclusiveness Cruise. But even the word "tolerance" itself made my newly green skin crawl. I've heard this word often used to describe how the general population should react to members of the LGBTQI community, as if we are naughty puppies peeing on the carpet.
Perhaps when society was progressing from terrible times of overt violence, criminalisation and oppression of queer people, "tolerance" was the goal. But for me, that's no longer enough.
I won't accept your "tolerance" for us. That word implies putting up with, allowing the existence of, permitting, or enduring something. That, in my opinion is no longer applicable. You no longer have the right to permit us or endure us. There's the old saying, "We are here, we are queer, get used to it". Well, almost everyone is used to it. We are here, we are queer, we are contributing members of society, we are parents and loving families, we will have marriage equality, and we are not going away.
You either accept us, or you will be left behind. Those are the choices. Piccoli and Baird both set a poor example of acceptance for their students, leaving it up to the teenagers to set the right one. A response posted by a group of prefects from Burwood Girls High (after the controversy) exemplifies this point. In it they spoke of their disappointment at the media coverage, of priding themselves on supporting diversity, and reaffirmed their support of the LGBTQI community. That is not just tolerance; that is complete acceptance.
I have grown to become unashamedly and completely intolerant of your "tolerance". We deserve better.
I am devastated the Safe Schools Coalition of Victoria has been withdrawn from La Trobe University (The Age, 17/12). It will no longer be run by skilled educators who have implemented it over the last seven years, a period of it under my supervision. The idea that it will be "protected" by being absorbed into the potential graveyard of the Education Department is ludicrous. Also, it is not "the only mandatory classroom program delivered by an external provider".
It is not a classroom program. It is a program of professional development for teachers. External providers are commonly used for this purpose. The timing of the announcement to minimise fall out from teachers and parents indicates Education Minister James Merlino knows he is removing something valued by school communities. The Safe Schools team has run an evidence-based, skilled and sensitive program. I am saddened young people and their families will no longer have access to teachers trained to provide this standard of care.Anne Mitchell, professor emeritus, Australian Research Centre In Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University
Homophobia has not only not diminished since the marriage equality campaign, it has increased alarmingly, aided and abetted by members of the Australian government and people connected to it, and connected to the fringes of it, and the government has done nothing to discourage it. On the contrary! Homophobia is ever present in our communities, and the campaign to stop the safe schools programme has made schools unsafe, as they used to be.
Article in The Age:
The federal government should cut all funding for any school that won't let parents pull their children out of sex- or gender-related classes, former prime minister John Howard has urged.
The Coalition elder has told the review into religious freedom - run by his long-time cabinet minister Philip Ruddock - federal funding should be used to coerce public and private schools into respecting parental preferences.
"Speaking practically, the preferable approach would be for the Commonwealth government to make it a condition of funding for both government and non-government schools that parental rights of this kind be respected," Mr Howard wrote.
He said it would be difficult for the federal government to pass a law of this kind "without invoking some international covenant" - though that should not be ruled out.
Mr Howard, the country's second-longest serving PM and a lauded Liberal figure, also joined the major churches in urging the government to enshrine as a positive right the ability for religious schools and welfare organisations to hire and fire as they see fit, including on religious or moral grounds.
Mr Ruddock, who served as immigration minister and attorney-general under Mr Howard, was tasked with reviewing the adequacy of Australia's religious freedom provisions in the wake of the legalisation of same-sex marriage.
During the postal survey campaign, opponents of same-sex marriage argued it would lead to the proliferation of "radical" gay and transgender sex education at schools. Some conservative MPs unsuccessfully tried to amend the same-sex marriage bill to guarantee the right of parents to withdraw their children from classes or programs involving material contrary to their values.
This could include programs similar to the controversial Safe Schools initiative, or sex education in the curriculum that acknowledges the existence of homosexual sex or transgender people.
In his submission, Mr Howard noted the states control school curricula and said the issue of parental rights remained a "genuine concern". He described his approach as "bare bones" and expressed support for stronger moves to protect religious freedom, but conceded the numbers in Parliament made that difficult.
A number of religious organisations also called for parents' rights to be bolstered. Associated Christian Schools told the Ruddock review parents feared changes to the curriculum would "expose their children to views on marriage and sexuality that are contrary to the traditional views held by the family".
Britain has moved to make sex education compulsory in secondary schools, but with flexibility for faith-based schools to teach in line with their beliefs. Parents can also withdraw their children from such lessons.
Mr Ruddock is due to hand the review to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull by the end of this week, having received about 16,500 submissions and published 3000. Mr Howard's contribution was among a number accepted by the panel after the closing date.
The panel, which also includes Australian Human Rights Commission boss Rosalind Croucher and Jesuit priest Frank Brennan, met on Monday to finalise the report. It is understood the panel will make at least 20 recommendations, including reforms that would require co-operation from the states and territories.
Mr Ruddock said he "greatly valued" Mr Howard's submission and it was given due consideration. Mr Howard was contacted for comment. Education Minister Simon Birmingham said: “I welcome all contributions to the review and I look forward to its report.”----------------------------------------
Letter in The Age 170518:
John Howard wants parents to be free to withdraw their children from sex education classes on the grounds of "religious freedom" ("Howard hot under collar on sex ed", The Age, 15/5). He appears to have in mind children who might otherwise benefit from education about homosexuality.
It may not occur to Mr Howard that young people contemplating their lives as homosexual or bisexual adults are not helped by parents exercising their "religious right" to deny their children information and insight about their sexual orientation.
One outcome of the past 50 years of public discussion about homosexuality is that a great many parents have come to understand that families will be harmed by their collusion in prejudicial attitudes. Some parents no doubt prefer to hold on to their prejudices. They are mercifully a declining number.Gary Jaynes, Ivanhoe
Mannie and Kendall Present: LESBIAN AND GAY SOLIDARITY ACTIVISMS
RED JOS: HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISM
Mannie's blogs may be accessed by clicking on to the following links:
MannieBlog (from 1 August 2003 to 31 December 2005)
Activist Kicks Backs - Blognow archive re-housed - 2005-2009
RED JOS BLOGSPOT (from January 2009 onwards)
This page created on 18 APRIL 2012 and updated 20 MAY 2018