Freshly Doug Monday

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You better not be gay and live in her home state! Sarah Palin, by Donkey Hotey, Mark Taylor & Manatari

Former Democrat Senator from WA, and out gay campaigner for LGBT rights Brian Greig, has come out swinging. He takes a swipe at the gay community for not fighting harder against the governments anti-discrimination bill ‘religious exemptions’, and especially at the LGBT faction Rainbow Labor.

The ALP can get pretty nasty behind the scenes……… senior people in Labor will be whispering to our community leaders that if they rock the boat …embarrass the government and demand that religious exemptions be removed, then they will get nothing. Even the protections for gay people in nursing homes will be withdrawn. The entire Bill might be dropped and watch out – because Tony Abbott as Prime Minister will be much worse! This divide-and-conquer, bogey-man politics is as lazy as it is predictable and we mustn’t fall for it.

It’s all part of the truckling to the tiny minority of self-righteous ‘religious’ people that infects much of our politics and media. They have the same problem in the UK: Adrian Tippetts writes about the BBCs coverage of the UK same-sex marriage bill.

“In much of the coverage, the passing of the bill was not presented as a victory for civil rights, but a defeat for religious freedom. BBC political correspondent Nick Robinson laboured over how the bill went against the “most sincere beliefs” of many, seemingly oblivious to the fact that others too have equally ‘sincere’ beliefs, not least about their own right to equal treatment under the law.

“…..the more urgent questions are not being asked, at a time when faith schools can teach children that same-sex relationships are sinful, homophobic hate crimes number over 5000 and nearly three in four LGBT people do not report hate crime to the police. When will the BBC ever hold the politicians, judiciary or police chiefs to account on what they are doing to protect LGBT people from discrimination or abuse?”

Meanwhile religious discriminatory behaviour continues to get a wholly undeserved free run. Under pressure from Rome, the UK Catholic church has ended a long-running LGBT Mass as incompatible with their doctrines, despite the fact that the services have been running for six years.

Supporting our community still comes at a price, and for some that price can be heavy. Britain’s most senior Muslim MP has received credible death threats after voting ‘Yes’ to gay marriage. Police have warned Sadiq Khan, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, to review the security around him and his family.

Also from Britain, the tale of the former Leeds United and US national player who simultaneously came out and stepped away from football continues to reverberate around the world. US activists hailed it as a ‘tipping point’, and indeed it does seem as though the entrenched homophobic culture in sport is rapidly and publicly breaking down. The great news in all this is the outpouring of support by Robbie Rogers team-mates.

In the US the debate is being had openly and honestly, in comparison with the cult of silence that shrouds Australian mens team sports, especially the AFL.

Confirmation, as if any were needed, that LGBTI folk are everywhere, and – what a surprise –  the more supportive and accepting the society, the more of us show up in the stats. The safer we feel, the freer we feel to be out and proud.

Conversely, in states with few rights and an oppressive culture, numbers of LGBT people appear artificially low, because we are fearful of being identified. Gosh, there’s another lesson for the AFL right there!

A survey across the USA turned up fewer than 2% admittedly LGBT citizens in North Dakota, 5% in Hawaii, and 10% in Washington DC. 41 of the 50 states returned fewer than 1,000 responses to the survey: lowest turnout was in ultra-homophobe Sarah Palins home state, Alaska. The survey, conducted by Gallup Poll Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport and UCLA scholar Gary J. Gates, destroys the religious rights claims that we’re a tiny insignificant minority.

With the exception of South Dakota, each state with LGBT populations of 4% and over has laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. These states have also taken steps toward more LGBT equality by recognizing same-sex marriages, civil unions or domestic partnerships. Six of the 10 states with the lowest LGBT populations are among the most conservative states in the country, researcher found.

This throws a new light on why religious groups are so keen to keep us closeted, out of sight, and hence out of mind: the fewer of us dare to come out, the louder the ‘Christians’ are emboldened to cry, along with Jim Wallace of the Australian Christian Lobby, that we’re excessively powerful for our numbers and we shouldn’t change laws to accommodate such a tiny minority. And the more lazy pollies believe them.

“It began with the claim that 10 per cent of the population were homosexual some 30 years ago, perpetuated even today and in some cases with even wilder claims, when authoritative studies put the number of homosexuals at between 1.5 and 2 per cent of the population.” Jim Wallace: The Punch

Sorry Jim, you just got blown clean out of the water. Remember, this survey only measures those comfortable identifying themselves as LGBT: the real totals are likely to be higher, even in supportive areas. Which means the survey point to an LGBT population of between 5-10%. Stuff that in your burning handbag and swing it.

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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)