The Battle Gets Real

by quinn.anya licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The forces seeking to profit from a naive rugby players simplistic faith come out of the shadows.

Some people are beginning to express disquiet over the campaign against Israel Folau. Some detect racism, claiming this wouldn’t have happened to a white Christian rugby player. That’s a distraction, a hypothetical to which we cannot know the answer, and anyway changes nothing. He was still in the wrong.

Some think we are helping to turn him into a martyr, and should just “let it go”. Some even think we should not have pressured GoFundMe to take down his appeal, despite it clearly breaching their terms and conditions.

I may be a cynical old bastard, but I have never yet encountered a situation where being nice to someone while they are punching you in the face has improved the outcome. You bash back, harder, take them down, and then, and only then, offer a generous truce.

Friends, Allies and Champions

We are fighting to stop people restricting our rights. We are fighting to remove the restrictions on our rights that remain. Folau has got himself some rich, powerful backers. That means the LGBTI community cannot beat off this attack alone. We need help and support. But those who would support us have to understand that they must be prepared to wade in and get their hands dirty.

Under these circumstances, mere tolerance of us is no longer an acceptable response. I have no wish to be tolerated. Tolerance is cheap. Tolerance requires no work, no buy-in, no sacrifice. Tolerance doesn’t put skin in the game. Tolerance is grudging, conditional, and oppressive.

Allyship is almost as problematic. Allies tend to hang around only while they are getting something out of it, whether it’s exposure, improved reputation, or a new marketing opportunity. As soon as the going gets tough, as soon as it costs them anything meaningful, many will bail.

I don’t want allies, I want champions.

I want champions – in politics, business, religion – who will carry our banner and fight our fight regardless of the cost to their bottom line, reputation, careers, families and lives. And not just from our own communities.

I want people of all kinds who will stand with us because it’s right, not because it’s useful. I want selfless leaders who will put us ahead of themselves. I want people who will stay with us even when they disagree with us, because freedom and equality, no matter what, are non-negotiable. But where are these people? Why have they not stepped up, without waiting to be asked?

The Christian Gorillas we’re up against

Right now Folau, egged on no doubt by the father he is said to fear, is not caving in. Instead, he is doubling down. The Australian ‘Christian’ Lobby, and their faux ‘human rights’ subsidiary, the Human Rights Law Alliance (HRLA), have lent their support. This is the real enemy. Folau is just their patsy.

The Folau case is the Australian Christian Lobbys chance to recover the credibility they lost along with the marriage postal vote. They desperately need a win. They failed comprehensively in politics, so they are turning to the courts to attack LGBTI rights, as has long been planned. The HRLA is their weapon.

HLRA** was set up in imitation of the American hate group, Alliance Defending Freedom, which I have written about many times before. More at this link https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/christian-fighting-fund-to-bankroll-legal-action-for-samesex-marriage-objectors-20161006-grw1mx.html.

It is a not for profit public company and a registered charity https://www.acnc.gov.au/charity/dbc92857fb12e91c25d1bdf675dbeda3, entitled to the usual tax concessions, but donations are not tax-deductible http://www.abr.business.gov.au/ABN/View/66624026044

It was previously headed by Martyn Iles, who left to become the head of the Australian Christian Lobby, replacing Lyle Shelton. Former head of the ACL, Brigadier Jim Wallace, is on the board. The current MD is John Steenhof, who has been penning op-eds in the mainstream press supporting Folau, without disclosing the ACL connection.

Where does religion fit under the rainbow flag?

It’s a question I have been asked a lot lately, in one form or another. And it contains its own answer. Religion belongs under the rainbow flag. Not over it. ACL and HRLA and the Folau family may have their Christ. We are happy to leave them alone to practice their religion, if they will leave us alone to practice ours.

What they may not do – and the same goes for folk of any religion – is impose their views of right or wrong on anyone else, or seek to have them enshrined in law, or be granted any special treatment, privileges or rights by virtue of their religion. And any existing special treatment must be ended. We must all be equal before the law. And the tax man.

Freedom is our religion. Equality is our standard. Playing the God card doesn’t make anyone special. The trouble with these not-very-Christian Christians is they have grown so used to their privileges that equality looks to them like oppression. It isn’t.

It is their freedom too, if only they could see it.

**HRLA Objects

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)