In today’s Age Article, “Baillieu cops flak from MPs over gay committee“, (Farrah Tomazin, May 6 2012), we’re told that LNP MPs aren’t happy with Ted Baillieu planning to create a gay and lesbian ministerial advisory committee. Anonymously, one “senior” MP is quoted saying to The Age:
“I don’t see what used to be known as ‘poofter bashing’ happening and I don’t see overt discrimination. It’s unnecessary. You don’t need a committee for everything.”
It would be really fantastic if this statement were a reflection of reality; instead, it’s just fantastical. (Call me a cynic, if you will, but I’d like to know the religious beliefs and personal attitude towards gays by such an MP.)
The truth of the matter is that if those are the criteria by which it is judged whether or not an advisory committee is needed, it sadly points to an urgent need to get the committee operational as soon as possible. Violence against the non-heterosexual community still occurs, whether some MPs would like to think otherwise or not. We also have to consider the simple fact that “poofter bashing” is just a penultimate aspect to bad behaviour towards the GLBTI community – other forms of intimidation or harassment are far more common, and cause commensurate levels of stress to victims.
As far for “overt discrimination”? Well an MP in the Baillieu government doesn’t have to look very far at all for signs of overt discrimination, with this Victorian government having explicitly enacted articles of legislation cementing discrimination against the GLBTIQ community:
“…it [the LNP Baillieu government] will expand the ‘permanent exclusions’ that give religious groups and entities – including those that provide public services using public money – a free license to discriminate against de facto couples, gays, lesbians and single mums, among others.”
(The Age, February 15, 2011, Rachel Ball, “Baillieu promised a fairer Victoria, but it looks like the opposite“)
Indeed, so determined was this government to discriminate that when one of their members, Mary Wooldridge, missed a vote in the lower house of the Victorian parliament to introduce said bill:
“In an unprecedented move, the government changed the rules of parliament to allow the bill to be resubmitted, on the grounds that Wooldridge’s absence had been an ‘accident’.”
(The Age, June 5 2011, Farrah Tomazin, “Baillieu: the discriminating progressive.”)
Sure, GLBTIQ rights within Victoria (and for that matter, Australia as a whole) have improved quite a bit. Our sexual orientation is now legal. It’s no longer considered something worthy of electro-shock treatment, and for the most part we’re awarded the same rights as de facto couples.
Yet “improved” doesn’t equate to “fixed”. Violence against the GBLTI community still exists; discrimination still exists – and in some cases, government sponsored. We are still considered by law in Australia to be second class citizens,without rights to marriage or freedom from religious discrimination. Our elderly are treated poorly in nursing homes, with bugger all consideration to their sexual orientation, and much media attention is given to those fools and bigots who hide behind a religious shield to issue vitriolic attacks against us.
Don’t just plan to form the committee. Form it – now.