Yes, the Pope influences millions of Catholics. And yes, he should be praised for making a change, if and when he actually makes that change.
This is not that time. He did not change the doctrine, he has not changed his stance on supporting the Church’s teachings, and he is excommunicating a pro-gay Australian priest for supporting women in becoming ordained. And now, since The Advocate award, it has been reported that he is ‘shocked’ by the thought of civil unions and gay adoption - news that isn’t shocking to me at all.
The Advocate and a lot of progressives have lauded Pope Francis for not following his predecessors by directly attacking queer people in speeches, and for two vague statements that sound suspiciously like a PR exercise to win over some more left-wing types (and it totally worked! Good plan Ocean’s eHeaven).
But this is setting the bar far too low. We deserve better. The leader of an organisation that has been responsible for generations of systemic homophobia and transphobia shouldn’t be showered with accolades simply for making a semi-humane comment about queer people. (My emphasis)
Australian writer-comedian Rebecca Shaw (who identifies as lesbian) argues we need to look at the actual changes of the Catholic Church rather than simply applauding empty platitudes by the Pope. So far, the Church remains negligent on upholding the human rights of LGBTQI people. The article is worth reading in full on SBS News.
Photo: Perhaps Magazine via Flickr.
The Hon Michael Kirby speaks about the need for Australia to contribute towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) rights on a global scale. Kirby is now working with The Kaleidoscope Trust, a not-for-profit international organisation fighting against LGBTQI human rights abuses. Kirby will contribute to law reform on LGBTQI issues in the Asia-Pacific.
Commonwealth nations have some of the most oppressive and homophobic laws in the world. Kirby argues that Australia must be a leader in our region by improving our laws and by taking an active role to challenge injustice around the world.
Kirby is the former Justice of the High Court of Australia (1996 to 2009). He publicly identified himself as gay in 1999 and has campaigned actively about the human rights of LGBTQI Australians. He was awarded a human rights medal in 1991. In May this year, he was appointed to lead an United Nations inquiry into human rights abuses in North Korea.
Same sex marriages have been talking place in the Australian Capital Territory, the first Australian state or territory to legalise non-heterosexual marriage. This new law had been contentious and it is being challenged by the federal Government led by the ultra conservative Liberal Party. This coming Thursday The High Court of Australia will decide whether this new state law is constitutional so the law is currently precarious.
Back in August, during a Springfield City Council public hearing on amending the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity protections, Rev. Phil Snider of the Brentwood Christian Church lashed out at the council for “inviting the judgement of God upon our land” by making “special rights for gays and lesbians.”
He goes on to invoke the bible and morality and the end of days a few more times before suddenly appearing to lose his train of thought.
And then something pretty amazing happens.
You HAVE to watch until about the two-minute mark. Let me put this in picture form for you:
Seriously, watch the whole thing. Good payoff.
This entertaining video was really popular last year. Although seemingly clever, it draws on a problematic comparison between same-sex marriage discrimination in the present day and racial segregation laws that were firmly in place in the USA until the civil rights movement in the 1960s (as well as in South Africa, Australia and around the world). This comparison between gay marriage and racial segregation has become increasingly common amongst well-meaning activists in the USA, including in litigation cases before the courts.
The link between racial segregation and gay marriage has also been evoked elsewhere, such as in the UK, with activists and academics arguing that not allowing gay marriage is similar to racist policies of the 1960s. This race-sexual discrimination argument is usually made by White activists who aim to illuminate the similar struggles of inequality faced by all minority groups.
Racial segregation and gay marriage might be similarly categorised within the rubric of human rights issues that everyone should be invested in protecting. The problem with drawing a direct link between both issues is that this ignores the distinct historical relations that different minority groups have faced over time, and it also obliterates the legal intricacies of racial, sexual and gender discriminations. Equating racial segregation to gay marriage also ignores the complex interconnections of discrimination as they are lived by different subgroups.
Segregation can be imposed by governments through formal policies and institutional practices or it can be the outcome of of informal processes. Formal segregation is enshrined in exclusionary laws that force some groups to be socially and economically separate from the majority. It is also enforced by powerful socio-economic agents, such as banks that won’t give loans or credit to racial minorities or workplaces that exclusively hire people from dominant groups. Segregation can occur through everyday “unconscious” choices, such as by having close friendships with people from the same group at school and at work, or by living in neighbourhoods with people who are from the same socio-economic background. Racial segregation is one of the most pervasive forms of segregation, as its continued effects amongst Black people and other racial minority groups is pervasive.
The legal oppression of LGBTQI limits their legal rights explicitly in the realm of family life and through social processes that reproduce the otherness of LGBTQI people. I’ve written previously that the issue of gay marriage is a violation of human rights, but making an unqualified connection to racial segregation does no cause justice. Nevertheless, this comparison is worth exploring because it is becoming so commonplace.
Racial segregation laws excluded Black Americans from all spheres of public life by physically, economically and legally separating them from White people, including everything from drinking areas, official buildings, pools, and public transport. These laws prevented Blacks from attending certain schools and from holding particular jobs and from fully participating in civil life. In short, racial segregation made it legal to formally discriminate against Black people in every social institution.
The effects of racial segregation continue today. Urban areas where Black people are residentially concentrated are overpopulated, poorly serviced and high taxes are redistributed in socially dysfunctional ways. Social disadvantage impacts on violence experienced by Black Americans in a way that is not the case for White people. In short, state policies that discriminated against Black people have resulted in an underclass that is pervasively disadvantaged economically, socially and residentially. The social effects of racial segregation has resulted in higher welfare dependence by single-parent Black families, poor educational facilities in neighbourhoods with a high proportion of Black people poor access to quality housing and higher rates of unemployment. Black people who lived through racial segregation face significant health problems.
In Australia, Indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families, because the State saw that Indigenous women were sexual savages incapable of looking after children. These children were raised in isolated institutions, deprived of their cultural heritage and forced to forget their spirituality and convert to Christianity. Policies enforced racial segregation with the explicit aim of cultural genocide.
Gay marriage is one of the most visible issues that show how LGBTQI communities are excluded from the rest of society. LGBTQI people continue to face hatred, violence and social disadvantages that heterosexual people as a group do not have to worry about. Marriage is constructed as normal, biologically functional and “right” between heterosexual men and women; gay marriage is positioned as a threat to the institution of family and therefore the established social order.
Aren’t all forms of discrimination equally negative? Isn’t it important to draw comparisons in solidarity of minority rights? Yes, of course, but not at the expense of recognising that the effects of different forms of discrimination have different outcomes for different groups.
Racial segregation exemplifies a system of discrimination that legally marked Black Americans as second-class citizens. Exclusionary present-day marriage laws discriminate against LGBTQI by not recognising that non-heterosexual people have the same legal right to fully participate in marriage and family. Nevertheless anti-gay marriage laws do not prevent LGBTQI people from participating in all spheres of public life. discriminating against people because of their sexuality is now against the law. The law does, however, discriminate against LGBTQI people in marriage, adoption. Informal processes of sexual discrimination are pervasive and require social activism and further policy intervention, but the law has not formally enforced gay-only spaces that physically segregates their inclusion in public life. This is an important distinction to understand. There are other important distinctions to understand with the gay rights movement.
The concept of intersectionality is used to highlight how racial, sexual and gender discrimination historically affect minorities in different ways.
The video above is clever in showing the similarities in the discourses used to justify racial and sexual inequalities; that is, how do patterns of speech normalise the balance of power to some groups over others? I see that it the video is even better when considered as a way to explore the concept of intersectionality and social activism.
Here’s a quick look at a new American documentary on Facebook’s privacy and ethics, Terms and Conditions May Apply. The Huffington Post reports that the film makers continued to secretly film Mark Zuckerberg during an encounter even after he’d explicitly asked them to stop filming him. You can’t make an important point about privacy by violating privacy, even if you’re seeking to condemn that same person for breaking privacy. This very huge point aside, check out the promo, it looks like a good one to watch for the sociology of social media.
New on Sociology At Work: In Honour of Nelson Mandela Day coming up on the 18th of July, an ode to Mandela’s many names.
“A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.”
― Gloria Steinem.
- Source: zeezeescorner
Last month, 400 asylum seekers were released from detention centres in Darwin, Australia, on “bridging visas.” An estimated 200 of them came to Melbourne. Under the Government’s “no advantage” mandate, these asylum seekers must now find their own accommodation. Many of them have moved into aged care homes, former convents and student flats. Those lucky enough to already have family in Australia can stay with family members. The precariousness of these asylum seekers’ lives is compounded not just by their temporary and restrictive visas and their temporary lodgings, but also by the fact that they are not allowed to work. Instead, they must live off basic welfare payments. This might go on for years, while their applications for permanent residency are under review.
This not only greatly disadvantages refugees economically, but it further delays their on-the-job skills training necessary to get stable employment later on. Community welfare and refugee advocates point out the injustice of this arrangement. Senior Manager of refugee programs at the Brotherhood of St Laurence, Hutch Hussein, says:
That will pose some strain on our services. We hope that people will know the services to come to within the community. I know that the sector is bracing itself for that. It’s a difficult time but it also presents a challenge to the sector to demonstrate the need, and reinforce that, regardless of visa status, all our clients are humans who really want the dignity of work and the dignity of services.
Photo and Information Source: SBS News.
- Source: zeezeescorner
Tasmanian Greens leader Nick McKim and State Premier Lara Giddings embrace Gay Rights activists Rodney Croome and Matt Hastings after historic same-sex marriage laws passed the Lower House last night.
Activist Rodney Croome said: ”This is a wonderful result, not just for same-sex couples and their families but also for Tasmania… Tasmania is now a beacon of hope to same-sex partners and their families across Australia and to all Australians who support equality and social inclusion.”
- Reblogged from octopusrabies-deactivated201212
A protester reacts to the news that civil unions between gay and lesbian Australians in the state of Queensland will now be known as “registered relationships” (via ABC AM). Moments before this protester’s outburst in the Parliament session, Queensland Minister Michael Crandon said: “The opportunity [has] now to come to a court and to register, if you like, their interest in one another…” [my emphasis]. The language is dehumanising - gay and lesbian Australians can “register their interest in one another” but the state will not recognise this “interest” as a full partnership worthy of the same legal rights and status as heterosexual couples.
The recently elected Liberal National Party Government is changing the law introduced last year by the former Labor government, which had finally allowed gay and lesbian relationships to be legally recognised as a civil union. This was seen as a positive step towards the legal recognition of marriages between homosexual and queer Australians. In a further legal blow to gay and lesbian citizens, their “registered partnerships” will not be allowed legal access to altruistic surrogacy (along with short-term de facto couples and single people). These are very dangerous times when Christian lobbying forces the Queensland government to withdraw the legal rights of Australians. To top it all off, it is still legal in Queensland to kill a gay or lesbian person and use the "gay panic" defence. That is, a murderer can argue that they reacted in violence because they were overwhelmed that a homosexual person flirted with them. Disgusting!
If you are in Queensland, go here to sign the e-petition to urge the Queensland government to end discrimination in surrogacy laws. Go here to sign the e-petition to urge the Queensland government to protect civil marriages and equal rights of gay and lesbian Australians.
- Source: zeezeescorner
The Australian Psychological Association has refuted the claims made in the Senate submission, arguing that the most comprehensive, longitudinal data show that children raised in same-sex families are not disadvantaged due to their parents’ sexual orientation. In some cases, the data show the opposite - and it all goes back to the economic and social resources available to parents. This includes emotional support from supportive networks. The biggest disadvantage to children raised in lesbian, gay, transsexual, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) families relates to how societies or communities fail to accept and integrate the diverse reality of modern families.
Much the same as the tired old argument on kids raised in single-parent families, it is not the type of family that children belong to that affects their life chances, but rather the socio-economic conditions and stigma to which families and children are exposed. Another important distinction on the outcomes of children is how parents interact with one another and with their children.
A difference is not necessarily a deficit.
Children raised in LGBTQI households are less likely to stick to traditional gender scripts, with daughters more likely to express a desire to enter professional fields traditionally dominated by men, such as doctors, lawyers, engineers and astronauts. Sons are less likely to be aggressive. While heterosexual parents are more likely to reinforce stereotypical feminine and masculine activities for their children, gay and lesbian parents are more likely to allow their children to play in gender-neutral ways. Stacy’s colleague Timothy Biblarz notes: ‘Lesbian and gay parent families offer a unique opportunity to examine ways in which gender differences affect parenting practices and outcomes’. Despite some differences in their gendered behaviour, experiences of psychological and social distress are similar amongst kids who come from queer families and kids raised in two-parent heterosexual households. Biblarz observes:
While all children probably get teased for one thing or another, children with gay parents may experience a higher degree of teasing and ridicule. It is impressive then that their psychological well-being and social adjustment does not significantly differ, on average, from that of children in comparable heterosexual-parent families. Exploring how lesbian and gay parent families help children cope with stigma could prove helpful to all kinds of families.
Today’s story about the Australian Senate submission represents a nasty example of scientists misusing their social authority. Medical professionals have misrepresented data to suit their narrow conception of what constitutes a “good” family environment. Misquoting statistics to incite a moral panic is nothing new. This tactic has been used over and over, but there is simply no empirical scientific evidence to back up this tired, antiquated view of families. This argument that LGBTQI families were somehow morally corrupt was around when I first studied sociology in the early 1990s, but it seemed almost passé when I was teaching the sociology of the family a decade later.
Scaremongering must be cyclical, particularly as “gay marriage” is an on-again-off-again political topic in Australia and elsewhere. The evidence is overwhelming - there are no social disadvantages to children of LGBTQI families, except those societies create for them.