Lisa Mullin is a transgender woman and activist who has has watched the US religious right’s tactics and strategy against LGBTI people since they were first successfully trialed in Houston in 2015. The exact same tactics and strategies are now being used in Australia.
Veteran LGBTI rights advocate Rodney Croome recently wrote:
‘By failing to consistently tackle the myths and lies of the “religious freedom” movement when it had the chance, the Equality Campaign’s small-target strategy has allowed that movement to survive and grow to the point where it poses more of a threat to LGBTI equality than ever.’
If you don’t debunk (and quickly) lies being told, then they escalate.
We see it in the UK where a massive trans hate campaign is going on, with virtually every media outlet regularly attacking trans people – including the BBC. It’s a copy of what happened to gay men in the UK during the Thatcher years, and the introduction of the infamous section 38.
As time has gone on the lies and attacks get escalated: trans women are now being regularly attacked as rapists, violent criminals and sexual abusers.
As a trans woman, watching the dog piling in the campaign against Safe Schools, Minus 18* (all attacking kids and their parents), and of course trans women, even intersex people, was depressing as all heck. And dangerous. It has set the scene for even more attacks through the Ruddock** inquiry.
This led to the outcome, long feared, that now the only group in society that doesn’t haven’t marriage equality are some trans and intersex people, because the ‘divorce required’ laws are still in place. Plus, the requirement for compulsory genital surgery for legal gender change for trans women (but not trans men) is still in place, made worse by the fact there is zero public health support for GRS.
The failure to counter the lies sends the haters a great message too: that they can continue unopposed. And they have done. It lets them get across their biggest and most dangerous message: that being LGBTI is a ‘choice’ and kids are being ‘forced’ into that by the ‘all powerful gay/lesbian/trans/marxist/etc.’ orgs. Leave them alone and ‘let kids be kids’ implies they will then automatically all grow up to be ‘decent’ cis straight people.
A real campaign requires a multi-pronged strategy. Sure, the general ‘sweetness and light’ part, but also the ‘get in there and debunk and fight it out’ scrappy part. Otherwise you are leaving the field open. Which is what has happened, setting the scene for a counterattack.
The ‘No’ campaigners knew full well they wouldn’t win, but were thinking strategically and preparing the ground for the next fight. Lose this one and sure you might, maybe, be able to get marred, but you won’t have a job, or health care or a roof over your head. At the limit, LGBTI people could even lose any State/Federal government benefits and services.
The US LG groups made that mistake, dropped the ball, in many ways have still not picked it up (they really dropped the ball over legally allowed conversion therapy), and are now facing falling public support, increasing violence against them and even extinction.
At the level of grand strategy, LGBTI people have to get the women’s political/lobbying/etc groups onside, because they are also under attack from the very same people, and we have common cause with them (though many haven’t woken up to that yet).
The (US ADF written) Patterson Bill, over and above its discrimination against LGBTI people, specifically (and cleverly) attacked women’ rights as well.
That should have been a wake up call.
*I note that there was zero support for Minus 18 from the ‘Yes’ campaign orgs. At least I never saw any, Sends them a great message doesn’t it? Safe Schools and all the kids in it were also left hung out to dry. LGBTI kids and their supportive parents have noted that clearly, they are on their own.
**Ruddock inquiry into religious protection https://pmc.gov.au/domestic-policy/religious-freedom-review