The Dogs of War

Wild dogs, by Per Arne Slotte

Opponents of equality, denied their precious plebiscite, are now out for revenge

If you wanted proof of the nastiness of the people who oppose LGBTI equality, these last few days have provided a wealth of examples. They have unleashed their war dogs.

There they crouched in the starting gates, ready with their half-truths, distortions, outright lies, falsified science, when suddenly the race was called off. No plebiscite? Then no need for propaganda. No need to unleash the promised world of hurt.

We have all seen the evidence. The distress caused by the Irish referendum. The rising calls to Australian helplines. Please, we begged, call off this plebiscite. Don’t give the haters an excuse to unleash their hate.

Won’t happen, they said. It’ll be a perfectly civil debate, they said. Don’t be stupid, no-one’s going to kill themselves, they scoffed. How dare we suggest they would be so dreadful. Gross exaggeration! Manipulative! Irresponsible!

But Labor listened, and killed off the plebiscite. Of course, it suited their own political game, too. I’m not accusing them of altruism here.

However the enemy, in their fury at being denied their excuse, their figleaf, and despite all the evidence that their actions will be hurtful, harmful and damaging, the enemy are gleefully charging into battle anyway. A few examples: there have been many more.


Australian “Christian” Lobby head honcho Lyle Shelton at first moaned “that ordinary Australians are being shut out from having a say about the biggest social policy change in a generation” before switching to a gleeful threat: “We now have more time to continue building our campaign, more time to build our coalition, and more time to win the hearts and minds of millions of Australians.”

He’s printed millions of leaflets and isn’t about to let them go to waste. He’s going to continue to poison people’s minds, even without the bad excuse of the plebiscite. Even though he knows the damage he’s doing.


Staunch Catholic propagandist at The Australian, Angela Shanahan, came out punching, publicly gay-bashing one of her nine children for being gay and marrying his partner. She told him in no uncertain terms that his ‘legal union’ wasn’t equal to those of her heterosexually married children. And then complained it was “quite difficult” dealing with his angry emails.


The Sydney Anglican Church weighed in. People they might kill themselves over the stuff we say about them? Nonsense! Didn’t happen in Ireland, they sniffed. Wouldn’t happen here.

Yet research found Ireland’s referendum caused LGBTI people and their families serious emotional damage. Three-quarters said they wouldn’t wish the experience on anyone else, if it could possibly be avoided.

But the Anglicans went ahead and released their campaign booklet, calling marriage equality a fad, like Communism, whose time would eventually pass. One that would in the meantime lead to gay men enslaving women as breeding machines.


Eric Abetz wheeled out the imaginary “ex-gays”, asking “Why there is no celebration for those that decide to go from the homosexual to heterosexual lifestyle? Are they not honest? Are they not coming out as well?”

Of course, genuine science tells us that there is no such thing as an ex-gay: only a homosexual man who has condemned himself to a life of repression and inauthenticity to placate an imaginary deity.


Even the Prime Minister got in on the act, airily remarking that while ‘of course’ LGBTI people would suffer additional distress, Australians were entitled to have their say.

“Are we going to say that we may not have a public debate on a topic when it is alleged that there will be a minority, some small groups, that will act intemperately?” he said during Question Time.

I would hardly call the Sydney Anglicans, the evangelical churches, The Roman Catholic Church, and a substantial portion of his own Coalition “some small groups”? Would you? Especially when they were to be flooded with millions of taxpayer dollars specifically for their intemperate propaganda.

No, Prime Minister, like the rest, you are intent on punishing us, the LGBTI community, for having had the temerity to reject your plans for us, and demand equal treatment. To demand that the issue of our relationships is treated in accordance with the principle of equality – the one we’re actually fighting for here – and dealt with in parliament, not the streets. Or the churches.

Because EQUALITY is what we’re fighting for. Equality in law, in language, in society at large. Marriage is merely equality’s outward and visible sign.

Which begs the question. Is our PM really the captive of his extreme religious right? Or is he just using them for cover?

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)