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As a gay man, I will not be lectured on discrimination by Julia Gillard

June 24, 2013


This article was originally written by Marcus O’Donnell and published at The Conversation

Julia Gillard has had a rough few days. More accurately weeks, well, months. Let’s face it, years. And at the centre of so many of her travails has been debate about her gender.

She’s been called a witch, deliberately barren, asked if her partner is gay and been the subject of a “joke” menu where a dish was described, with misogynistic cruelty, in terms of parts of her anatomy.

But for all Gillard’s outrage about the language and attitudes she faces, there’s a rather large elephant siting in her office in The Lodge which she seems to determined to ignore: she’s just as guilty of discrimination herself, the only difference being that instead of differentiating between people on because of their gender, she does so on their sexuality.

Until she changes her position on marriage equality anything she has to say on gender, discrimination or equality can only be taken as political posturing. In many ways marriage equality is a relatively minor issue in the larger drama of Australian political life. But on another level it is central to any evaluation of Julia Gillard’s leadership.

Equality of any kind is always important but that’s not why it matters at the moment. It matters because it speaks directly to the question of trust. It speaks to who will be valued and who will be cast aside by our political leaders. It shows us who the PM thinks is expendable.

In announcing the gender discrimination inquiry Gillard held up a conviction she needs to be held to:

Given that I want us to be a nation where [there is] equal opportunity for everyone at every time in their life, I want to get to the bottom of the problem and what the solutions could be.

A deeply admirable sentiment, but if she genuinely believed in promoting “equal opportunity for everyone at every time in their life” gay men and lesbians would have the same choice that is open to her and every other straight parliamentarian. She has chosen not to marry her partner, Tim Mathieson, but the reality is she could marry him tomorrow if she chose to.

She maintains her position on marriage is a personal view. She maintains that marriage is a deeply held tradition. She maintains that other options are available for gay and lesbian relationships.

But each time she comes up with one of these justifications for her position she portrays gay and lesbian people as “others” and actively discriminates against us, constricting our choices. Neither personal beliefs nor tradition can be used to justify discrimination. There’s a word for it: prejudice.

Gillard’s only attempt to justify her position are appeals to tradition. She told Q&A viewers that she didn’t support change because exclusively heterosexual marriage was a “cultural institution of long standing in Australian society.” To Sky News she added that there are “some important things from our past that need to continue to be part of our present and part of our future.”

Should discrimination be one of them? The White Australia policy is an important element of our past, but nobody in their right mind would suggest bringing that back.

Every advance in public policy from civil rights through to the advances of women have been battles against deeply entrenched “cultural institutions”. This is another one that simply needs to be renewed.

On the issue of marriage equality and gay rights in general, Gillard is, to quote Churchill, a riddle wrapped inside a mystery in an enigma.

She’s an atheist, socially progressive woman in a defacto relationship who most recently became famous for a speech on misogyny – it is simply inconceivable that she has deeply held personal views against same sex marriage.

If she does, it’s pure prejudice because it would go against everything else she supposedly stands for. So my only conclusion here is that she’s simply pretending, in order to play safe with marginal electorates where she hopes to shore up her votes among social conservatives. As Tom Dick has pointed out some of the marginal electorates in Northern Queensland and Western Sydney that most concern Labor are 75% Christian. Gillard’s stance on same sex marriage is designed for them.

I’m a gay man, historically I’m a Labor voter, I’ve always considered myself a feminist, but every time Julia Gillard talks about same sex marriage with one of her “I’m not a homophobe but…” statements, the Prime Minister of Australia tells me I don’t matter. The only thing that matters is her grasp on power.

I’ve made up my mind. I don’t trust her.

Can you blame me?



14 Comments leave one →
  1. TB Queensland permalink
    June 24, 2013 8:26 pm

    Get to the bottom of it? … As Tom Dick has pointed out? 🙄

    I agree with the thrust of the article …

    No more … promise … 🙂

  2. June 24, 2013 8:35 pm

    There’s no point in having a “limp” argument… Not looking at anyone in particular…


  3. Tom of Melbourne permalink
    June 25, 2013 12:00 am

    Why is Gillard still Prime Minister?

  4. egg permalink
    June 25, 2013 7:43 am

    ‘…marginal electorates where she hopes to shore up her votes among social conservatives.’

    Albo leaned on her fairly heavily in regards to the christian vote in his electorate and further west the muslim vote would have been impacted, so she has dropped her principles and embraced realpolitik.

    This is unfortunate, because under Abbott gay law reform will probably not be considered.

  5. Splatterbottom permalink
    June 25, 2013 10:25 am

    “Gillard is, to quote Churchill, a riddle wrapped inside a mystery in an enigma.

    Or she is a politician who chose to sell out her principles for power.

    Trouble is that her political judgment is so bad that she can’t even pull this off. She has ended up looking like a tawdry corpse swinging from the political gallows by a blue necktie.

  6. Tom of Melbourne permalink
    June 25, 2013 10:52 am

    Abbott can lapse back into religious delusion as his excuse on this issue. Gillard only has political stupidity as hers.

  7. TB Queensland permalink
    June 25, 2013 11:12 am

    You do write some stuff, sb … 😆

  8. egg permalink
    June 25, 2013 5:45 pm

    ‘A bill to outlaw discrimination against gays and lesbians by faith-based aged care providers is expected to pass parliament this afternoon, despite Coalition opposition on the grounds that the change infringes religious freedom.

    ‘Religious organisations enjoy an exemption from many areas of discrimination law, but Labor wants to remove this exemption in relation to aged care services. The proposal is an amendment to a bill to more broadly outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.’

    Read more:

  9. June 25, 2013 6:22 pm

    I was just thinking earlier, one of the arguments the religious nutjobs use as an objection to marriage equality is that marriage is all about “procreation” therefore homo’s should be excluded.

    Does this mean that hetero couples who enjoy oral sex or anal sex should be excluded from marriage too?

    What about straight couples who are infertile, or those who simply don’t want to have kids?

    Shouldn’t there be some sort of pre-marriage questionnaire or something…??

  10. egg permalink
    June 26, 2013 8:53 am

    ‘those who simply don’t want to have kids?’

    It really is a disgrace, so many straight couples are having sex these days with no intention of having children.

    Not to worry, we have a real man coming down under to sort the Monk out.

    ‘BARACK Obama’s new man in Canberra has a list of achievements that few could dream of matching. He’s stood on the north pole and the south pole and managed more than 40 per cent of the nation’s law enforcement.

    ‘But John Berry is more than just a driven bureaucrat; he is the highest-ranking openly gay man in US history, a message he shares with millions of people through his YouTube videos and advocacy for gay rights.’

    Brendan Nicholson in the Oz

  11. Hummmph permalink
    June 26, 2013 8:58 am

    If Rudd returns gay marriage will be one of his election promises

  12. egg permalink
    June 27, 2013 7:33 am

    You might be on the money Hum, he only has to follow the American lead.

    ‘A landmark supreme court ruling struck down a controversial federal law that discriminated against gay couples in the US, delivering a stunning victory on Wednesday to campaigners who fought for years to overturn it.

    ‘The court also dismissed a separate appeal against same-sex marriage laws in California, restoring the right to gay marriage in the largest US state and nearly doubling the number of Americans living in states where gay marriage would be legal.’

    the Guardian

  13. November 23, 2013 6:30 pm

    Just re-reading this and it appears Hummmph’s prediction was on the money!

  14. TB Queensland permalink
    November 23, 2013 7:12 pm

    Well some of us have to fluke it sometimes!

    Where is Hmp anyway … where do they all go? Lives to live I s’pose …

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