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Wednesday 08 April 2009

Proclamations of the Red Queen

16th March 2009

PLAGAL: The Gay Christian Right?

Posted by: Craig Young

When I learnt that there existed a lesbian/gay anti-abortion group, PLAGAL (the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians), I was shocked.

twins2.jpgFor the most part, the contemporary LGBT movement has allied itself closely to the pro-choice side of the abortion debate, reasoning that if there’s more space for non-reproductive sex due to safe contraceptive and abortion access, then that’s a social good. Similarly, reproductive technologies enable lesbians and gay men to form our own families, and sunder family making from heterosexuality.

PLAGAL has been labelled the “Gay Christian Right” in some quarters, although it has recently protested that it supports safe sex, safe contraception, comprehensive sexuality education and other LGBT rights- just not women’s reproductive freedom when it comes to abortion rights. Why? The ‘gay gene’ may mean that future refinements of prenatal genetic screening lead to selective abortions of ‘lesbian and gay’ embryos and fetuses.

In many ways, this is identical in discourse to the anti-sexwork feminists in New Zealand during the debate over prostitution law reform here. In both contexts, PLAGAL and anti-sexwork feminists create discourses of total emergency and misery. Thus, the very survival of lesbians and gay men is at stake if we don’t oppose women’s reproductive freedom when it comes to abortion, and thus, we don’t care about violence against women if we support decriminalisation of sex work. Overwhelming emergency blots out more sober strategic analysis of both these propositions, and leads PLAGAL and anti-sexwork feminists into the arms of the Christian Right. Accordingly, the¬†Christian Right then appropriates these conservative leftoid discourses to make itself look ‘progressive’ when it comes to violence against women and anti-’eugenic’ abortions.

I do not accept that the gay gene hypothesis is anything more than tentative right now, which may mean that if it is an invalid hypothesis, such selective abortions of “lesbian and gay” embryos and fetuses are a non-starter. As for the ’causes’ of lesbian and gay sexual identity, early infantile imprinting may well make later sexual orientation as hardwired as an alternative genetic explanation would.¬† And as for sexuality-selective abortions, the disability rights movement has altered our perception of physical anomalies sufficiently to ensure that automatic termination doesn’t occur in the context of prenatal discovery of nonlethal physical anomalies.

PLAGAL and antisexwork feminists are wrongheaded and counterproductive, leading to destructive outcomes for the rest of their movements. Denying women abortion rights closes the space available for non-reproductive sexualities, including ours, and the Christian Right’s record on interfering with feminist family violence and child sexual abuse initiatives also needs to be critically assessed by anti-sexwork feminists. How can they be sure they’re not betraying women and children inside Christian Right families enduring spousal rape, incest or domestic violence?

The road to existential “hell” is paved with good intentions.

Tags: Politics · Religion

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Cherie.C // Mar 28, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Interesting article Craig!!!I think its quite sad to hear the stories from the actual women, who had abortions. I read one about (Cecilia Brown) stating, ‘it was nothing like they said it would be…..she became pregnant while trying to live the straight life’After PLAGALs march the “Silent No More’ event in Supreme Court where approx. 3dozen women who had abortions lit candles and testified their regret about the experience. So what did the Supreme Court hear? What was the voice of the women? One of increased coercion, lack of resources and financial and emotional support….they did it because they had do!!!!! I don’t consider that PLAGAL create discourse of total emerency….everyone has their ‘right’ to Court Access to ‘voice’ how certain inadequacies of law/or policy, has affected them. Whist we can argue how effective half-a-dozen PLAGAL members are, joining tens of thousand pro-life advocates & where an sign labeling ‘Human rights start when human life begins’ is viewed by police as inappropriate. I think the outworking of their agenda, was wrongly directed. But the Supreme Court statement, were powerful. If we ignore the statements of such women (before the Court) as holding no significant…..then their whole movement (in general) has ‘no voice’. Ironically, the voices of many women ‘accessing justice’ through Court system is paved with difficulty and challenge. I think the Court would consider if dozens of women appeared before the Court with domestic violence or rape, within Church sector or occult, as out rage. If such women could not access appropriate care, to protect themselves against violence (via, restraining orders). If procedures were delayed, etc… Yet, I don’t consider any action, from the statements of those women & i think the question we have to ask, is what is the greater harm? Why not consider their rights?

  • 2 Craig Young // Mar 28, 2009 at 11:24 am

    I think you’ve also put your finger on another very useful element of the PLAGAL discourse, Cherie, which is co-opting feminist anger at violence against women, and then using abortion as another form of ‘violence against women’ in their rhetoric.

    It’s faulty, because rape/incest leads to unwanted pregnancy and that may require abortion access to deal with repeated reminders of that trauma. And sadly, lesbian and heterosexual women alike experience sexual violence, and some become pregnant. It’s obscene that in itself, rape is not grounds for abortion access in New Zealand (although incest is).

    When Brown and other women refer to themselves as ‘exploited through access to abortion’, should we take their statements at face value? Or is this more akin to the exgay rhetoric that suggests that lesbian or gay life is ‘inferior’ to straight existence? Brown may not be a conservative Christian, but most of her movement is.


  • 3 Cherie.c // Mar 28, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    Yes, your right! I think that their statements are at face value…..but i think some of their work is good. Such as current plan for producing manual for distribuation in GLBT community. Whist, it maybe only targeted to certain demographic (such as, abortion) and majority of GLBT people would think the liklihood of any lesbian/bi-sexual women getting raped in NZ would be minor. I know lesbian women who was sexually assulted recently…..Rape counsellor told her, ‘your lifestyle is not the best for you.’ Hmm, in the same token…..’violence’ provoked by ‘hate crimes’, who asks for it? Not a result of ‘lifestyle’. But then again who should stay victim to mentality that being gay is any less inferior, a ‘lifestyle’ which attracts crap? I agree with you….rather obscene that ‘incest’ rather than ‘rape’ is not grounds for abortion. When hundreds of statements where lodged in Supreme Court and praise given to the women…….the Court held no judgment, as it was all admissible anyway. Very faulty.
    enjoy reading your opinions regularly Craig.

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