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Saturday 12 November 2016

(Not) Walking Away?

Posted in: Comment
By Craig Young - 12th March 2016

Why is it that the global Christian Right is so incapable of conceding that the days of anti-LGBT activism are numbered? Take two examples, from Australia and the United States.

Recently, I reported on the move against transgender rights in the United States. Over the course of a mere month, out of those forty-one anti-transgender state government bills, nineteen have failed. Moreover, they failed completely in Washington state, Wyoming...Virginia and Mississippi, two Southern US states. This isn't the 'new' 'marriage equality', given the successes that the US Christian Right temporarily had over pre-emptive bans until the tide turned. In the case of the victimisation of transgender children, which most of this anti-transgender legislation consists of, the backlash has occurred faster and even within traditional religious conservative Southern US states.

Their failure appears to have impacted on some of their overseas satellites. In New Zealand, at one time, Bob McCoskrie of Family First couldn't shut up about anti-transgender "bathroom bill" attacks on transgender child protection and safety. Well, now, given their accelerating failure within the United States, it looks like such anti-transgender legislative proposals are liabilities when it comes to public support and woe betide the unthinking populist or opportunist politician or activist who supports them. When I last looked at Family First's website, it seemed to be focused more intensively on anti-cannabis, anti-porn and banning Wicked camper vans, gangs and stopping liberalisation of Easter trading (which, as a Labour Party supporter, I also support in the latter case). Family First and other US Christian Right satellites tend to be overly dependent on that source for propaganda, tactics and strategy, but if a given tactic or strategy doesn't work, they often walk seem to walk away from the issue and hope no-one else notices.

Interestingly enough, what happens when such satellites don't do so is evidenced by the faltering Australian Christian Right tactics against the LGBTI anti-bullying Safe Schools programme. When it comes to Family First, I couldn't help but notice only a single reprint. Possibly, that may be because the Australian Christian Lobby, the chief propagandist against Safe Schools, is regarded as an extremist and loose cannon pressure group amongst more pragmatic religious social conservatives on this side of the Tasman, and its current campaign is viewed as highly reckless. It didn't take Australian LGBTI organisations (or me) long to track down the Australian Christian Lobby's core role in this mischief making agitation and to mobilise accordingly. There are now 70,000 signatures on a petition to maintain the Safe Schools programme against only 10,000 against it. Nor has the narrow range of opponents impressed onlookers, or their harrassment and intimidation tactics against SSC workers, according to the latter's Australian Service Union representatives. It seems to predominantly be the Australian Christian Lobby, religious social conservative MHRs and Senators like Cory Bernardi and George Christensen, the Western Australian State Education Minister Peter Collier, religious social conservative Victorian MLC Bernie Finn and one Cella White, an allegedly 'non-religious' parent opposed to the programme (who was nevertheless covered on the Bible Society of Australia website and popped up on an ABCQ&Adebate on the programme). She has also been interviewed by the Australian Christian Lobby's Lyle Shelton. There is increasing evidence of prior agitation against the Safe Schools programme within the Australian fundamentalist community, as can be noted below in links from the Australian Christian Lobby misinformation on the Bible Society of Australia news archive page.

Apart from Murdoch newspaper columnist Jennifer Oriel, the only other defenders of the anti-SSC campaign appear to be an academic from the Australian Catholic University and Catholic Education Commission and Australian Christian Right outfits like the Sydney "Anglican" Schools Corporation, Evangelical Alliance, and for some reason the Bible Society of Australia. It would be churlish to note the 'coincidence' of Cardinal George Pell's deepening quagmire over his ignorance of serious pedophile predation against children in his former Ballarat Diocese earlier in his career, or to wonder if the Australian Catholic hierarchy isn't covertly involved in the anti-SSC campaign in the interests of news 'spin.'

Malcolm Turnbull has made a serious strategic blunder in backing these extremists within and outside the fringes of the federal Liberal caucus. If I were him, or our own beloved (...) Family First, I would step well away from any involvement with this nonsense before they suffer collateral damage and a blow to their credibility. Now.

Farah Tomazin: "Matthew Guy warns against expanding Safe School programmes to Victorian schools"The Age: 05.03.2016:http://www.theage. warns-against-expanding-safe- schools-program-to-all- victorian-classroo ms-20160304-gnb9aw.html

Jordy Atkinson: "Australian Christians will hold rally against Safe Schools on March 16" Herald Sun: 05.03.2016:http://www. /leader/outer-east/australian- christians-will-hold-rally- against-safe-schools-program- in-belgrave-on-march-16/news- story/ 14a476aa226ac8f3d6bf0b7080d9c6 bc

Paul Karp: "Safe Schools LGBTI programme workers receiving abuse, says union:" Guardian: 03.03.2016:http://www. news/2016/mar/03/safe-schools- lgbti-program-workers- receiving-abuse-says-union

Josh Butler: "70,000 signatures collected in support of the Safe Schools Coalition" Huffington Post: 04.03.2016:http://www. 03/safe-schools-petition_n_ 9379822.html

National Center for Transgender Equality: Action Center: action-center

Not Recommended:

Tess Holgate: "Mum speaks out against Safe Schools Coalition" Bible Society of Australia: 27.01.2016:http://www.bibl melbourne-mum-speaks-out- against-safe-schools-coalition

John Sandemann and Kaley Payne: "Christians respond to the Safe Schools programme" Bible Society of Australia: 12.02.2016:http://www. christians-respond-to-safe- schools-coal ition-teaching-materials[ Australian Christian Lobby]

David Hastie: "Does the Safe Schools Coalition take an 'agenda' into the classroom?" Bible Society of Australia: 12.02.2016:http://www.b the-safe-schools-coalition- take-an-agenda-into-the- classroom["Sydney "Anglican" Schools Corporation]

Gordon Preece: "Are LGBTI students bullied more and therefore in need of the Safe Schools programme?" Bible Society of Australia:http://www. ullied-more["Evangelical Alliance"]

Lyle Shelton: "Boys in Girls Bathrooms- A Brave Mother speaks out on what Safe Schools is Teaching Your Kids" Australian Christian Lobby: 26.01.2016:http://www.acl. bathrooms-brave-mother-speaks- out-on-what-safe-sch ools-is-teaching-your-kids/

Craig Young - 12th March 2016

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