Some of our politicians seem to think that the issue of marriage equality is now settled for some time. That’s code for “we don’t want to think about this any more”.
Now that the majority of representatives in our houses of parliament have decided that it’s acceptable to discriminate against homosexuals in our modern society, we can see the impact of that decision playing out in the media.
While it’s generally acknowledged that homophobia and bullying are unacceptable, a new level of hatred is crawling into the conversation. An article in The Telegraph (Sydney) October 17 by Miranda Devine is a good example. It’s titled “The thought police telling kids heterosexuality’s not the norm”
She references a 2003 survey that says 1.6% of men identify as homosexual. Without going off to check the study, that equates to 160,000 men who consider their homosexuality normal (in 2003 there were about 10 million men in Australia).
Devine then uses that to try to discredit the statement that between 7 and 9 percent of people are same sex attracted, used in a study by Latrobe University. She claims that ‘figures around the world put homosexuality at 2-3 percent of the (world) population.’ No reference is given for that claim. Even so, 2% of the nearly 7 billion people on the planet makes the gay population about 140 million.
She goes on to say that because so few people are gay, and because there’s no evidence that homophobic bullying is a big problem in schools, anti-homophobia programs in schools are actually pro-homosexuality propaganda in disguise.
She writes “So there it is. If you think the vast majority of people are attracted to the opposite sex and that heterosexual human relationships are the norm, you are feeding homophobia.”
She goes on to say that parents expect their children to learn the basics at school and be socialised in a safe environment, then in the very next sentence says that parents values shouldn’t be subverted by ‘homosexual or any other propaganda’.
The problem is her claim that heterosexuality is ‘normal’. In fact diversity – a range of different sexualities – is the norm. Nobody is trying to turn anyone gay. It isn’t possible to treat everyone with respect if you think that only heterosexuality is ‘normal,’ and homosexuality isn’t.
In the same edition of The Telegraph, the editorial also singles out the issue. The editor makes light of the use of the phrase “that’s so gay”, saying it isn’t actually referring to gay as in homosexual. Of course the phrase is meant to be derogatory and is meant to demean the person it is aimed at. The term gay does refer to homosexuality.
The editorial then says that regardless of sexuality being fixed or fluid, it should not be ‘foisted upon children’. The problem there is of course that if human sexual diversity is not talked about, heterosexuality becomes regarded as the ‘norm’ and the poor little gay kids are left in danger and wondering who they are.
It’s strange now that the marriage equality bills are ‘settled for some time’, the media appear to be opening up the hate talk again. Being gay has yet again become fair game, and again people are being told that they aren’t normal if they don’t conform to the majority.
This is exactly why marriage equality is important and the campaign should continue.
While The Telegraph and it’s columnists comments may not fit the label ‘homophobic’, that is, fear of homosexuals, they do fit into a pattern of hatred of anything that isn’t heterosexual.
We need a new word instead of homophobic. Perhaps we can call somebody a Katterite, if they refuse to acknowledge the 140 million gay people in the world.