What Is To Be Done?

“walls into bridges – Len Munnik”by jimforest is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Ever since the election I’ve been struggling to find something useful to say about the future for the Australian LGBTI community, and consistently coming up empty.

Fortunately, others have written about ‘what we need to do’

ALASTAIR LAWRIE

Alastair Lawrie has identified the ‘targets’ for activism from here on:

Prime Minister Morrison and Attorney-General Porter

The ‘rainbow’ group within the Liberal Party: Angie Bell, Trent Zimmerman, Trevor Evans, Tim Wilson and Senator Dean Smith, plus long-term LGBTI ally Warren Entsch.

Senator Jacqui Lambie, Centre Alliance Senators Rex Patrick and Stirling Griff. It is not an exaggeration to say that these three Senators will hold our collective fate in their hands on a large number of Bills.

Rainbow Labow MPs, including Penny Wong, Louise Pratt, Julian Hill and the newly-elected Queensland Senator Nita Green.

Alastair has also tackled the ‘religious freedom’ issue, particularly in regard to discrimination against LGBTI schoolkids and teachers by religious schools.

RODNEY CROOME

Veteran advocate Rodney Croome has also been busy advancing our claims: here, he argues that Labor should continue to have a shadow spokesperson on LGBTI issues, for example.

So far there’s no sign of them heeding his pleas.

And here he exposes the devious and dishonest “religious freedom” argument for the “wolf in sheeps clothing” that it is.

“Religious freedom” means punching holes in discrimination law so LGBTI people can be legally denied services in the name of religion.

“Freedom of speech” means overriding hate speech laws so LGBTI people can be denigrated if a deity can be invoked to justify it.

“Freedom of conscience” means discrimination and hate speech against LGBTI people even if you don’t believe in God.

“Parental rights” means two things: preventing governments from funding programs that promote inclusion for LGBTI students, and blocking laws that allow transgender teenagers to have their gender identity recognised.

Under this new twisted definition of “religious freedom”, the license to discriminate is only available to people who have a religious or conscientious objection to the requirements of anti-discrimination law. The rest of us still have to abide by that law.

There are often no objective tests for what a religious objection might be. The basis for claiming an exemption from anti-discrimination law is defined by the person claiming it, not the state or society and sometimes not even established denominations.

In almost every case, the act of discrimination, the refusal of services, the hate speech, or whatever sin is committed in the name of “religious freedom”, is directed against LGBTI people.

SHELLEY ARGENT

PFLAG national spokesperson Shelley Argent has also weighed in on the ‘religious freedom’ issue and written to the PM seeking reassurances.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Write to the PM and the Attorney General: here’s my letter. Feel free to adopt and adapt for your own communication https://thestirrer.com.au/letter-to-the-prime-minister/

I also wrote an adapted version for the Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese and his Shadow AG Mark Dreyfus https://thestirrer.com.au/letter-to-leader-of-the-opposition/

And to my local MP and longtime rainbow ally Warren Entsch https://thestirrer.com.au/letter-to-warren-emtsch-mp/

And whatever else you do, don’t lose hope.

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)