f) Lots of other LGBT issues
This article was published in SX News and MCV on 25.7.11
The religious rights’ persecution narrative has reached absurd levels.
When Australian Marriage Equality asked Kevin Rudd’s sister, Loree, to apologise for labelling equality advocates “the gay Gestapo”, Jim Wallace of the Australian Christian Lobby defended her from AME’s “demonisation”.
When Tasmanian Labor MP, Brenton Best, drew attention to the past anti-gay campaigning of Liberal, Michael Ferguson, Ferguson withdrew from a marriage equality debate in Launceston because of “a toxic environment” of anti-Christian hate.
It’s not hard to see the pattern here: whenever the prejudices of anti-equality advocates are pointed out their prejudices they claim they are being discriminated against.
Playing the victim card is the classic response of people who are losing a debate.
It allows them to play for public sympathy while avoiding scrutiny of their case.
By claiming it is discriminated against, the religious right also diverts attention from the discrimination it upholds against LGBTI people.
The most pointed purpose of this persecution narrative is that it preps the religious right to demand exemptions from LGBTI law reform to preserve its “religious freedoms” (which is to say “right to discriminate”).
The most recent example of this was a successful church demand for even broader exemptions from New York’s equal marriage law.
In Australia, the religious right will be deploying its persecution narrative so proposed federal LGBTI discrimination laws have as many holes for religious organisations as possible.
If letters to the Tassie press are anything to go by, the persecution narrative isn’t fooling anyone.
As one Hobart correspondent wrote, “I haven’t been to any rally that declared Christians are incapable of raising children or should not be able to marry, but I have had the misfortune to attend rallies where this was said of gay and lesbian people without any factual backing”.
But still it’s important for LGBTI Australians to extend to opponents of equality the respect they don’t believe we’re capable of and desperately don’t want us to show.
The struggle for equality is the struggle for the hearts and minds of ordinary Australians.
When our fellow citizens see in us the forbearance, tolerance and respect that we claim from them, that struggle is half way over.
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