There are straws in the wind that herald some dirty weather on the way.
A Harvard history professor last week criticised the theories of economist John Maynard Keynes on the grounds that he was less invested in the future because he was gay and had no children.
The comment said more about the speaker’s politics and prejudices than it did about Keynesian economics. Instead of attacking Keynes ideas – which is pretty well impossible, because he has been proven right so many times – he resorted to an anti-gay smear.
In Scotland Michael Haseler, the emergent UK Independence Party’s new energy spokesman, said “selfish” gay people were “deeply hostile to heterosexuals” and aimed to “destroy our society”; that politicians in favour of same-sex marriage wanted to “redefine marriage in their own perverse concept of society”.
In Greece the increasingly popular Golden Dawn party called gay people sick, abnormal, and incompatible with membership of the party.
Our own fringe parties are more coy, but we can make a good guess at their attitudes based on the company they keep. Bob Katter doesn’t want to talk about gay issues at all, and Clive Palmer has declined to state a position, too, but both have unsavoury anti-gay characters clustering around them.
Even the latest from Tony Abbott betrays the same underlying – if we’re being charitable we can call it ‘unconscious’ – anti-gay prejudices. Only their mode of expression is muted. He said he wouldn’t be calling a conscience vote after the election. He said dismissively that he didn’t think there would be much enthusiasm to revisit the issue. Clearly he has none himself.
”I don’t think anyone should expect that this is necessarily going to come up in the next Parliament. It will ultimately be a matter for the post-election party room if it comes up, but I am strongly opposed to any change and I imagine that a strong majority in the Coalition party room will remain opposed to any change.”
He said the incoming Coalition would have a lot on its plate, implying that gay issues are relatively unimportant, and compared the push for marriage equality to the push for a republic. People used to think that was inevitable, too, and yet no one thinks that now, he said. Abbott clearly hopes to bury our equality just as thoroughly.
The danger is that such a change in tone of the national conversation empowers others to express their prejudices more forthrightly. There is, however, one small consolation. When we are ignored or worse, actively attacked, the petty divisions amongst ourselves tend to fall away and the L, G, B, T, and I work together better. I saw it during the time of AIDS, and again under Mrs Thatcher’s iron stiletto.
There’s bad weather on the horizon, for which we must prepare. We can work to ensure that a majority of Abbott’s MPs don’t share his prejudices, and will instead stand up for our rights. And we can start building an ark together, to get us through the coming storms.