Freshly Doug Tuesday

The Roman Catholic church is finding ever more bizarre objections to marriage equality. I think we had better send round the men in white coats with a straitjacket to the Scottish bishop who compared the British PM to ancient Roman Emperor Nero.

But what are we to make of the ragtag gaggle of churchy Tory MPs who are fussing over how equalising marriage will alter the definitions of adultery and consummation? Especially the Catholics, who are banned from divorce by their Pontiff – yet can get an ‘annulment’ if the marriage is not consummated.

In law, consummation of a marriage is defined as “erection and penetration by the man of the woman, with emission of seed”. And the government has promised that marriage law will be exactly the same for all couples. But is it possible to find a one-size-fits-all definition of “consummation” for gay and straight mnarriages?

“It will have profound effects on the ability of individuals to have a marriage annulled,” said Edward Leigh, the MP for Gainsborough. “This is important to Catholics for whom annulment is permitted by the church but divorce is not.”

Quite why this matters when the Pope will never sanction the marriage of same-sex couples, whatever their religion, is beyond me. The government is happy to leave it up to the courts to decide exactly how to define same-sex adultery and same-sex consummation, but that won’t stop opponents of the change from using this and other relatively minor quibbles to try to obstruct equality.

The charitable arm of US drug company Merck has joined the growing list of corporates suspending financial support for the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) over the organization’s anti-gay policies. Australian scouting has been inclusive for years.

Soccer, of course, still isn’t. Deutsche Welle has taken the mildly interesting step of interviewing a German gay soccer team for their ideas on why there are no out gay pro-footballers – and they’re worried about the character of the first one to out himself.

Cream Team team co-founder Andreas Steine hopes that the first to out himself will be the “right kind” of gay soccer player.

“If it’s someone from our national team and everybody likes him, it’ll be OK. But if it’s someone who isn’t a favorite in the public eye, and the newspapers don’t like him – that will be a problematic situation.”

As I keep saying, the answer is for all the gay players to get together and come out en masse – but there are so many prima donnas on soccer pitches I guess it would be hard for them to damp down the egos and work co-operatively.

Remember when Malawi threw two guys in jail for holding a wedding ceremony? They were initially sentenced to 14 years jail, but then pardoned after an international outcry. One of the pair had a particularly bad time in jail but has no regrets.

“I had mixed feelings because on the one hand I felt it was a wonderful thing for me to do a normal, natural thing like getting married, whilst on the other hand it was very painful,” said Tiwonge Chimbalanga.

“I was beaten in prison. During the trial the security guards ill-treated me. I was verbally abused and suffered all sorts of inhumane treatments, I have scars from the beatings. Yet I felt good that I was able to do what I wanted to do.”

Makes the agonising some of us do over coming out look pretty pathetic, doesn’t it?

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)