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Sunday 13 November 2016

Editorial: Stop claiming you're not bigots

Posted in: Features
By staff - 21st May 2013


Has anyone else noticed this trend of ‘I can say what I want about your ‘lifestyle’ but don’t you dare be mean and call me a bigot’ from anti-gay groups?

In the latest spasm, an Auckland counsellor has likened outspoken people in the GLBT community to the ‘Gay Taliban’, based on claims from a pair of homophobic lodge owners in Whangarei that they have received death threats and verbal abuse over their ban on sodomy. It's unclear whether they have reported these threats to the police, or who they are from.

Aucklander Steve Taylor of ‘counselling, mediation and supervision’ organisation 24-7 has paddled in and blamed the GLBT community, or as he describes us, the ‘gay Taliban’.

“It seems that this minority unelected ‘gay Taliban’ has determined that any alternative opinion, save ideological acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle, is to be ridiculed, attacked, and silenced – which is hardly an example of the tolerance, inclusivity, and diversity that the same strident minority claim to desire,” he writes in a rant he has sent out to the media.

“The illegitimate labelling of any alternative opinion to homosexuality as ‘homophobia’ is simply another bullying tactic worthy of the worst propaganda exercises of history – alternative opinion does not mean fear of an ideological position - it is simply an alternative opinion, and such opinion is valid in public debate,” he continues.

And there is more: “Contrary to the opinions of the ‘Gay Taliban’, homosexuals are no more or less special than any other person walking the planet – and any threats, intimidation, or attempts at silencing others with alternative opinions and perspectives about homosexuality should be met with stringent resistance.”

Some clarifications for Taylor:

  • Being gay, bi, lesbian or trans is not a lifestyle choice.
  • We prefer the above terms to ‘homosexuals’.
  • If we are ‘no more or less special than any other person walking the planet’, do we not deserve the same rights as any other person walking the planet?
  • The Taliban is an Islamic fundamentalist political movement responsible for the deaths of innumerable people. The comparison is disgusting, disrespectful and offensive.

    Or as one of our readers Mike Sinclair puts it:
    "I agree we are no more or less special than anyone else walking the streets, but that's exactly why we stand so strong against discrimination against us because we want to be treated the same as everyone else yet discrimination based on our sexuality still happens. You can't turn a Maori couple away from your B&B because the are Maori, could you imagine how the Maori community would respond?? Probably the same as the gay community has."

“I’m not homophobic, but …”


This sentiment of ‘stop calling us homophobic and bigots’ was rife throughout the marriage equality debate.

We heard everything from links to paedophilia and incest, to claims being a gay is a choice, abnormal and unhealthy being washed away with assertions such sentiment is not anti-gay.

Former MP Gordon Copeland even drew apartheid into the debate, when he told the select committee allowing gay people to marry was like calling the New Zealand Maori rugby team "honorary whites" in the tour to South Africa.

Then, when he was asked outside the select committee hearing whether his comment was homophobic, he replied: “that is just stupid”.

Family First was on the same page, stating “preserving traditional marriage is a virtue, not “homophobia” or bigotry”.

Meanwhile during the debate it equated same-sex marriage with paedophilia and incest; denigrated children of same-sex couples and came up with the cracking reasoning: "A homosexual cannot now legally marry. But neither can a whole lot of other people. A five-year old boy cannot marry. Three people cannot get married to each other. A married man can’t marry another person. Two old aunties living together cannot marry. A father cannot marry his adult daughter. A football team cannot enact group marriage - the list is endless.”

Conservative Catholics group Family Life International NZ made it clear it didn’t believe marriage was a human right, with its submission against Louisa Wall’s bill stating: “Children in love are not permitted to marry. Someone who is already married is not permitted to marry. Parents are not permitted to marry their offspring and vice versa. In no way does this mean these people are being treated with disrespect or denied a human right.”

It said same-sex marriage would lead to incest and added, “Same-sex relationships can try to mimic marriage but they can never be equal to it.”

Family Life International also recently brought a Canadian anti-gay writer who believes gay sex is unhealthy to New Zealand.

Then when the Bill passed, its National Director Colleen Bayer complained that straight people would be impacted: “But this legislation does affect those who are not in support of same-sex marriage. We are not allowed to speak our minds. We are called ‘haters’, ‘bigots’. What will come next?” She predicted the “absolute destruction of marriage and family”.

A politician was in on it too. During committee stage debate, Hamilton West MP Tim Macindoe tried to modify the marriage equality Bill to allow anyone who provides "goods, facilities or services," to discriminate against gay couples who are getting married.

And yet during debate he said he was not a bigot or homophobic, and that his "gay friends" know this. The National MP added that he respects the "many gays" who have contacted him respectfully on the issue.

Then there were the leaders of a number of churches wrote to Parliament asking for protection under the Human Rights Act for anyone who wants to express their belief that gay and lesbian people who marry are not “truly and sufficiently” married.

And the exceedingly homophobic ‘Society for Promotion of Community Standards’ wrote to the Attorney-General in March, claiming the marriage equality Bill discriminates against straight married couples and those with “sincere religious beliefs”.

Why do we call you bigots?

GLBT rights activist Jessica Gerson has written a piece in the Huffington Post addressing typical opponents of marriage equality and explaining: “I'd like to help you understand why I call you a bigot”.

“It's not that you disagree with me, and it's not that you're a proud Christian. The reason I call you a bigot, and the reason that we cannot politely agree to disagree, is that you are trying to make me, my life and my family subject to your opinion and/or religious belief.

“What makes you a bigot is that you are trying to deny my family the legal protections that you claim for your own. Period. It really is that simple. You don't have to agree with homosexuality. You don't have to like it. I don't like lasagne, and I don't agree with eating pork and shellfish. But I don't try to outlaw lasagne, or pork or shellfish. See how this works?”

Gerson finishes: “One last thing: If being called a bigot bothers you so much, you are always free to stop being one. Otherwise, I'm going to continue to call you what you are. And what you are is a bigot.”

Touché. staff - 21st May 2013

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