Posts Tagged ‘Australian Christian Lobby’

The Christian lobby is now trying to convince women that abortion causes breast cancer
 Jane Gilmore

Last week the ACL sent out an email inviting people to attend a Melbourne screening of Hush, a documentary described as “a pro-woman perspective on the abortion debate”.

The ACL describes controversial anti-abortion documentary ‘Hush’ as “a pro-woman perspective on the abortion debate”.

Hush has been lauded by anti-abortion and religious groups around the world for its allegedly “balanced” reporting of thoroughly debunked myths – that abortion causes breast cancer, infertility and mental illness.

Perpetuating dangerous and disproved claims about serious medical issues is a definition of “a pro women perspective” I haven’t heard of before, but to be fair, there are many issues pushed out by the ACL that I find difficult to comprehend.

A still from the documentary 'Hush'.
A still from the pseudo-documentary ‘Hush’.  Photo: Hush

Hush props up the allegation of “balance” by claiming the director, Punam Kumar Gill, is pro-choice. Despite this, there are 28 people featured in the film discussing the alleged dangers of abortion, and only two who assert it is a safe procedure.

Whether or not Gill really is pro-choice is irrelevant in the face of the claims made by the documentary, which gives significant weight to assertions by Christian anti-abortion researchers while ignoring overwhelming evidence from the medical profession that there is no reliable link between abortion and breast cancer.

It’s very much akin to the work of anti-vaxers, who cling desperately to risible claims by quack scientists, in the face of irrefutable evidence that they are wrong, because their feelings trump facts.

The film has been described as “a prototype of pseudoscience” by Dr David Grimes, who says he “advised the director in writing in September of 2014 of the poor credentials and discredited science of several anti-abortion activists interviewed for the film.

“She was apparently undeterred in conjuring up a conspiracy,” he says.

The documentary’s website lists a bibliography of the so-called “science” behind the breast cancer claims. The first article shows a possible small increase in the number of young women with breast cancer, but does not posit any possible causes. The second article was eviscerated by Discover Magazine in 2003, which utterly debunked the premise, methodology, results and conclusions of the study. And pointed out that – as Phyllis Wingo, chief of the cancer surveillance branch for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said – even if you accepted their flawed suppositions, “a relative risk of 1.3 – compared with the relative risk of 20 associated with smoking and lung cancer – is usually considered too weak to draw definite conclusions”.

The third link supporting the ludicrous notion that there is a link between abortion and breast cancer was written by Patrick Carroll, an insurance expert with no medical training, who works for the Pension And Population Research Institute, an obscure institution with a single-page website linking only to Carroll’s three papers on breast cancer and abortion.

These studies were used to prove a link that has been investigated and rejected by the National Cancer Institute, the Cancer Council of Australia, the American Cancer Society, and the Australian Medical Association, among many others.

Dr Tony Bartone, Vice-President of the Australian Medical Association, said the assertion is irresponsible. “There is no evidence that abortion is in any way linked to the development or onset of breast cancer.

“A patient suffering from breast cancer has enormous challenges to deal with, and they certainly don’t need this kind of misinformation adding to their already overwhelming worries,” he said.

“Also, patients making informed decisions about terminations do not need to be subjected to this kind of misinformation, which can only create significant and unnecessary further stress when they already have so many  concerns to deal with.”

What’s worse, the screening for which the Australian Christian Lobby was issuing invitations is a fundraiser for Women’s Forum Australia, “an independent women’s think-tank” founded by Melinda Tankard Reist, which claims to advocate for “women’s health and wellbeing”.

Of their 10 published news items, three were anti-abortion, six were about adoption (with a focus against same-sex parents adopting) and one was advocating against surrogacy. Their two events are the Hush screening and a Pregnancy Support Awards for services that persuade women against abortion.

Tankard Reist has long resisted publicly declaring any link to faith-based organisations, but the links between her, the organisations she’s founded, and right-wing Christian groups are difficult to ignore.

While faith is certainly a personal matter that no private individual should ever be obliged to disclose, it is relevant to public advocacy. Women’s Forum Australia has every right to argue against abortion if they choose to, but peddling dangerous misinformation under the guise of “balance” and “science”, and hiding a faith-based agenda behind an alleged concern for women’s health, demands some investigation and response.

ACL’s invitation to the event was forwarded to Fairfax Media and came directly from Dan Flynn, the Victorian Director of ACL. Kristan Dooley, the contact provided on the event information, confirmed to Fairfax Media that the event is a fundraiser for Women’s Forum Australia.

The ACL is very clear on its purpose, as stated on its website it is “seeking to bring a Christian influence to politics”. If the ACL is promoting a fundraiser, it would be unlikely to do so without some faith-based or ideological alignment with the beneficiaries.

Pseudoscience and discredited conspiracy theories do nothing for the anti-abortion cause. Using such things to raise funds for further advocacy is egregiously unethical.

If these are the best arguments they can make for an ideological crusade against a legal medical procedure that saves women’s lives, they desperately need to rethink their strategy.

And in the meantime, Australian women can rest assured that if they require an abortion, the procedure is safe, legal (in most states) and entirely a matter for each individual to decide.




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Anti-Gay Senate Candidate Uses Orlando Killing To Push Anti-Muslim Agenda


Homophobe, Bernard Gaynor, Senate candiadte for the Christian fascist front, ‘Australian Liberty Alliance.’


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It’s not just Donald Trump.

Prominent Australian conservative groups – including those who actively campaign against LGBTI rights – have quickly latched on to the murder of 50 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, with some using the massacre to help promote their anti-Muslim messages.

In perhaps the most egregious example, former Bob Katter staffer turned Australian Liberty Alliance Senate candidate Bernard Gaynor released a statement this morning, linking the mass murder to immigration policies and “political correctness”. In 2013, Gaynor was sacked from the army reserve and stood down as a Katter’s Australia Party candidate after tweeting that he wouldn’t “let a gay person teach [his] children”.

In his statement today, Gaynor failed to mention the fact Pulse was an LGBTI club, and did not pass on any condolences to the LGBTI community, locally or abroad.

After stirring controversy in 2013, Gaynor doubled-down on his comments and argued the Catholic Church must purge gay teachers from its schools. He reflected on the reaction by writing:

“Looking back in hindsight, I guess it’s all clear now. I had poo-poohed the right of sodomites to educate my children.”

In the same piece, Gaynor said that “the homosexual community views children as commodities to be traded around the planet. More recently, he argued that “laws allowing discrimination against homosexuals are good”.

“Right now, today, Christian organisations can lawfully discriminate against homosexuals. This is a good thing,” he wrote.

Gaynor is appealing his army suspension and is at the top of the Australian Liberty Alliance (ALA) Senate ticket – an anti-Muslim party – in Queensland.

The far-right United Patriots Front group also shared a cartoon from its Facebook page which appeared to blame LGBTI people for terrorism. The cartoon shows a caricatured group of terrorists facing off with a caricatured group of apparently LGBTI people, who are waving rainbow flags and holding a sign that says “refugees welcome!”. An ominous caption reads: “They deserve what is coming…”

new matilda, upf
(IMAGE: Facebook).

A moderator of the page responded to criticism of the image by saying, “The meme is not an attack on homosexuals, its [sic]an attack on hypocrites.” Elsewhere, leader of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) Lyle Shelton provoked anger after he took to social media with a somewhat more benign post that nonetheless outraged members of the LGBTI community. Shelton does not share the same fiercely anti-immigration views held by the ALA and the UPF, and has previously tweeted his support for increasing the number of refugees accepted by Australia.

lyle sheltonBut he has led the fight against the anti-bullying LGBTI school program Safe Schools, and his organisation lobbies hard against marriage equality. The ACL’s conference this year hosted a number of anti-LGBTI rights speakers, including one who compared the LGBTI rights movement to the growth of Nazism in the 1930s, and another from a group that lobbies for homosexuality to be criminalised. Hours after the first Tweet normal service resumed, with Shelton posting a link to a group of conservatives criticising Safe Schools on Sky News.

shane bazzi

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Call to suspend hate laws ‘disgraceful’: Gillian Triggs



 Gillian Triggs slams calls to change anti-discrimination laws

Anti-discrimination laws won’t prevent free speech so don’t need to be changed during the same sex marriage debate, says the head of the Human Rights Commission.


The Human Rights Commission has rubbished the Australian Christian Lobby’s call for anti-discrimination laws to be suspended during the same-sex marriage plebiscite, describing it as “outrageous” and based on a misunderstanding of the law.

In a separate move, about 40 religious leaders have written to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull urging him to ditch the plebiscite plan altogether, arguing it will damage the standing of religious communities and harm the mental health of gay people.

Responding to the ACL’s push to have anti-discrimination laws “set aside” during the plebiscite campaign to ensure free speech, Australian Human Rights Commission President Gillian Triggs said it was a “disgraceful way of dealing with the issue”.

Australian Human Rights Commission president Professor Gillian Triggs says of ACL: 'It's an outrageous propositon and ...

Australian Human Rights Commission president Professor Gillian Triggs says of ACL: ‘It’s an outrageous propositon and it’s highly misguided’. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen


“[They] are saying that we have to stand down or suspend the laws so that you can do what would otherwise be a vilification,” Professor Triggs told Fairfax Media on Tuesday.

“It’s an outrageous proposition and it’s highly misguided.”

Professor Triggs said the ACL’s call for the federal government to “override” anti-discrimination laws, particularly state-based laws, was “based on a failure to understand the way the law works”.

Rev Graham Long, CEO and pastor of The Wayside Chapel is one of around 40 signatories to the letter to Malcolm Turnbull.

Rev Graham Long, CEO and pastor of The Wayside Chapel is one of around 40 signatories to the letter to Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: Peter Rae


She said the right to freedom of religious views was one of the best-protected rights in Australia because it was entrenched in the Constitution, adding there was no federal law against vilification on the basis of sexuality and only Queensland, NSW and the ACT made it unlawful to incite hatred on the basis of sexual orientation.

While Tasmania takes a broader approach, Professor Triggs said there was no rush of findings against free speech in the state.

“It is a very, very high threshold,” she said, countering the ACL argument that current laws would make the “no” camp vulnerable to “the constant threat of quasi and full-blown legal action” during the plebiscite.

Victorian Minister for Equality Martin Foley wrote to Attorney-General George Brandis on Tuesday, outlining his concerns that “weakening anti-discrimination laws will further hurt LGBTI Australians”. Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus also slammed the ACL’s proposal, saying: “If you need to offend in order to convince people, you’ve already lost”.

As debate about the process of a plebiscite continued, representatives of Anglican, Uniting and Baptist churches wrote to Mr Turnbull, calling for Parliament to resolve the issue instead.

The letter warns a plebiscite risks providing a platform for “disparaging LGBTI Australians and their families, leading to increased incidents of anxiety, depression and suicide,” and could “discredit the voice of faith communities more generally on public matters”.

Pastor of Sydney’s Wayside Chapel Graham Long said he was a signatory because the plebiscite would see opposing sides to “dig into their trenches” and “throw bombs”.

“I’m really struggling to see where the wisdom is,” Reverend Long said. “The other idea is we could use our Parliament as a Parliament.”

The letter also expresses concern that the “negative case” in a plebiscite would be put by religious groups and leaders “who claim to speak on behalf of people of faith generally, or religious institutions as a whole”.

Letter organiser, Angus McLeayof Merri Creek Anglican in inner-city Melbourne, said it was a concern that the ACL could be seen to represent all Christians.

“The ACL represent certain, quite conservative viewpoints,” Reverend McLeay said.

“The public, they just hear ‘Christian’ and they don’t necessarily make fine distinctions.”

On Wednesday, the ACL stood by its call for anti-discrimination laws to be set aside.

“None of our arguments vilify or hate and neither should they. The arguments are not the problem. The laws are the problem. In particular, the abuse of the laws and legal processes by activists,” managing director Lyle Shelton said.

“State-based human rights commissions are often weaponised by activists against those with different views.”

Senator Brandis was overseas on Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.

Last week in Senate estimates, he said there had been a “great deal of stakeholder consultation” on the plebiscite process and that he would take a submission to cabinet “in coming months”.

There is no date set yet for the plebiscite, which is due after the federal election if the Coalition wins.

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ANZAC Day Not for Faggots and Towelheads


by Geoff Lemon

[This piece is a few years old, but age has not wearied its sentiment.]

At least, not according to the Australian Christian Lobby. Sure, their main man Jim Wallace used slightly more careful language, but that was the sentiment of what he said. “Just hope that as we remember Servicemen and women today we remember the Australia they fought for – wasn’t gay marriage and Islamic!” was the thoughtful missive he left via Twitter on the 25th.

I generally couldn’t give two shits in a waffle cone what people have to say on Twitter, the place where relevance goes to pick out its funeral clothes in pale blue. But once in a while you get something juicy, someone reposts it, and suddenly giant kerfuffles are exploding over everyone. (They’re kind of like soufflés.)

Generally, also like soufflés, these are massive beat-ups: think Nir Rosen, Catherine Deveny, that poor bloody lady with the horse. But Wallace has more reason for contrition than most. Aside from the fact that most of the towelheads and faggots could demolish him in a grammar challenge, his opinions (which he may have extensively pondered) only reinforce the ill-thought-out prejudices of thousands of other people. At least, they do once they make it onto the evening news.

Wallace said he would stand by his comment “if people read it in the right context and realise I’m not slurring gays. I have a lot of friends and associates who are gays, in fact one even tweeted me last night…” That must’ve been an illicit thrill, Jim. So, not slurring gays, you just don’t think they should have the same rights as proper normal people. Ok, check.

He went on to explain that this revelation of his came about after sitting with his father, a veteran of Tobruk and Milne Bay, who said that he didn’t recognise this Australia as being the one he fought for. Thought Jim, it was a good time to make a statement about our Judeo-Christian heritage, despite the fact that most of Australia these days is about as Christian as a bag of wet socks.

The extra-bad taste in the mouth from all this, though, is his invocation of the ANZACs to back up his point. We shouldn’t have gay marriage because ‘the ANZACs’ didn’t fight for that. We should keep an eye on dodgy Muslims because ‘the ANZACs’ sure as hell didn’t fight for them either. It was in the same vein as a particularly lunk-headed individual named Mick (natch), commenting on my pokies article, that restrictions on people’s gambling meant “the anzacs would be turning in their graves.”

To quote another commenter’s rejoinder, “Everyone loves making the ANZACs say what they want them to. They’re kind of like Jesus like that.”

And spot on. As recent years have ticked by, I’ve increasingly come to loathe ANZAC Day. Not the soldiers it honours, but the modern way of supposedly honouring them. Before you get all down on me for my disrespect, check my credentials. Through high school, my uni major, and my honours year, I specialised in Australian First and Second World War history. I’ve read dozens of biographies and memoirs by servicemen, interviewed WWII vets, and spent countless hours in archives here, in Canberra, and in Singapore. I spent a year in Thailand and Borneo researching prisoner-of-war camps, walked across northern Borneo to retrace a forced march of Aussie soldiers, then drove back and forth several more times to follow up on leads. I wrote a book of poems based on the stories I found, and I’ve done readings from it in all kinds of places to try and make sure those stories are heard. My best mate since primary school is an infantry corporal. I probably have a more direct emotional connection to that history than just about anyone who now chooses to invoke its name when April rolls around.

The fact that I do care so much is why ANZAC Days have increasingly become a time to cringe. It’s the resurgent nationalism and mythologising championed by Keating and Howard. Sentimental crud like ‘the ANZAC spirit’, gets thrown around by every chump with a lectern. People get tagged with it for playing football. The modern understanding of the phrase makes it more and more synonymous with a kind of Aussie boganeering. Thousands of young Australians go to Gallipoli to pay their respects by getting shitfaced, watching rock concerts, unrolling their sleeping bags on the graves of the dead, and fucking off the next day leaving the place completely trashed for the Turks to clean up. Much like 1915, but with a bit more piss. It’s a short step from this ‘spirit’ to the Aussie pride that saw flags tied on as capes down at Cronulla a few years ago. It seems to appeal to the same demographic that have made “Fuck off, we’re full” such a big seller down at Bumper Sticker Bonanza.

The most recent dawn service I went to sounded more like a school assembly, with the officially-voted Most Boring Prick on Earth conducting the service, then the tokenism of some Year 12 from an all-girl private school reading us her revelations after a trip to Gallipoli. The same myth-heavy sacred-worship shite. The ANZACs were this, the ANZACs were that. No, Hannah Montana. The ANZACs were a bunch of different people. The ANZACs weren’t one thing. ‘They’ didn’t believe in this or that, ‘they’ didn’t have these characteristics. They were a group of individuals.

The sanctity shtick is also popular with politicians who want to push a particular view. But the use and misuse of that history is the topic of my next post, which is an actual essay (as opposed to rant) on that subject. Yes, an essay. The internet will fall over when someone posts more than 500 words in one hit. Mind you, the 5000-worder I wrote on Balibo is one of the most popular entries on this site, so, give this a shake. I promise it’s interesting.

All of which brings us, bereft of a segue, back to Mr Wallace. His Twitter post, he said, “was a comment on the nature of the Australia [his father] had fought for, and the need to honour that in the way we preserve it into the future.”

So let me just make sure I’ve got this, Jim. Because soldiers fought and died in 1943, we need to maintain the values they had in 1943. Or do we maintain the values of the ones who fought in 1945? But hang on, they fought and died in 1915 as well… and 1914. So do we wind our values back to then? Do we bring back the Australia Party and the Northern Territory Chief Protector of Aborigines?

Let’s settle on the 1940s in general – Milne Bay and all that. And look at the values of the 1940s. This was an era when it was ok to smack your wife around a bit if she gave you lip. If you went too hard on her too often, then people might tut disapprovingly, like they did with a bloke who kicked his dog. But the odd puffy cheek was nothing to be remarked upon.

This was an era when women were supposed to show respect to men as the heads of the households and their natural superiors.

This was an era when you could pretty casually rape a girl who ended up somewhere alone with you, because if she’d got herself into that situation she was probably asking for it. Girls who said no or changed their minds were just playing hard to get. You know women, right? So fickle, so flighty. It was an era when the Australian occupation troops sent to Japan post-war were involved in the consistent rapes of Japanese women. Not traumatised vengeful former combatants, mind you, but fresh recruits, straight out of training.

This was an era when capital punishment was legal, and conscription was encouraged. This was an era when dodgy foreigners were kept out of the country by being made to sit a test in a language of the examiner’s choosing. Oh, you don’t speak Aramaic? Sorry, you failed. This was an era when Aboriginals weren’t recognised as people. Despite having been here when everyone else rocked up, they weren’t even given citizenship till 1967. Twenty-two years after the war had ended.

Were these the values that our Aussie heroes fought and died for too? Or were these not-so-good values, ones that we can discard? Where’s the distinction, Jim? Where do your values end and your values begin?

Well, guess what. I don’t want to live in the 1940s. I don’t want to live in 1918. I don’t want to brush off Vietnam, Korea, Malaya, because they were morally ambiguous. I don’t want to be part of a culture that makes people saints. I want to respect them for being people. I don’t want to live in a society where people are encouraged to hate each other, either. That kind of hatred is one of the most corrosive things in existence.

When I was in Year 9, I went to a boarding school for a year with this kid named Chris Millet. Word on the street was that he was gay. It was never clear why – I don’t think he even was. The story was along the lines of him being dared to touch another kid’s dick in the change room, and doing it to impress the tougher kids daring him. Presumably it was a set-up, and from that moment on he was branded “faggot”. I don’t mean that kids called him a faggot. I mean that they flat out swore that he was a faggot. And to 14-year-old boys there was nothing more terrifying in the world, nor so potentially destructive to one’s social standing. Millet was a fag, the lowest of the low, and in all my years I have yet to witness anyone treated in such a consistently awful fashion.

Chris Millet was bastardised and ostracised for that entire year. He was mocked, reviled, heckled, and spat at as a matter of course, the mere sight of him passing by enough to prompt a volley of abuse. Some of it was the comic genius of teenage boys (“Bums to the wall, Millet’s on the crawl!”), but usually it was just plain old invective. A big country kid, quiet and thoughtful, he just bowed his broad shoulders and kept on walking. We lived in small dorms of sixteen kids apiece; he was socially frozen out of his. His size meant not many would risk straight-out assaults, but he was routinely pushed and whacked and scuffled with; his belongings stolen, broken, or sabotaged; clothes and bed dirtied or thrown around the dorm; fair game for anyone, anytime. He ate alone, sat in class alone, walked the paths of the school alone. Even the nerdiest of the nerds only associated with him by default. He had no recourse, beyond reach and beyond help.

Even then, I was sickened by it. Even then, I could see that the fear was irrational, like being scared of catching AIDS from a handshake. Even then, I wanted to reject it. But I rarely had contact with Chris. He was in a different dorm, different activities, different classes. It was impossible not to know who he was, but our paths seldom crossed. Whenever they did, walking around school, I would smile and say hello. It was nothing, but more than he got from most people. It still felt so useless, though, that all I could offer was “Hey, Chris.” An actual smile and the sound of his real name. I don’t know if he ever noticed, but I did.

And while I wanted to do more, it was dangerous. I was a new kid that year, only just managing to fit in. Awkward, strange, providing the kind of comic relief that was mostly jester or dancing chimp. Even though I was sickened, I couldn’t seek him out to talk to, or it would have been obvious. There was the risk his personal opprobrium could have deflected onto me. I felt like a coward, but couldn’t see a way out. Even talking was dicey. One day I said hello to Chris while a kid from my dorm was walking with me. “What’s going on there?” said Will as we continued up the road. “Are you and Millet special friends?” And while he was mostly taking the piss there was still an edge to it; I could still sense that moment balancing, the risk that if he decided to push the topic with others around, it could easily tip the wrong way.

That school was tough. We spent three days a week hiking – proper stuff, 30-kilo packs, heavy old gear, 30-kilometre days through the Vic Alps. More than one stretch of mountains I crossed crying, or trying not to, or bent double, crawling up slopes with hands as well as feet. Other times I was painfully homesick, weeks spent with just the indifference of other kids and the professional distance of teachers. No phones, no internet, no way home. Physical exhaustion and isolation.

It was one of the hardest years of my life. The small group of friends I made were the one blessing that meant it could be borne. And that was exactly the thing that Chris Millet didn’t have. I cannot imagine how he made it through that year alone. Not just alone, but in the face of constant and targeted aggression. I would have buckled and gone home broken.

The last night of that year, there was a big get-together in the dining hall. When it was over I left the building looking for one person. I wandered around till I spotted him, that round-shouldered trudge, a fair way off up the hill towards his dorm. I don’t know if he was a great guy underneath it all. We never even had a proper conversation. He was just a big, quiet kid, brutalised into shyness. But I did know he didn’t deserve what he’d got. I ran up the hill after him and called out, and when he stopped, looking back a little hesitantly, I jogged up and shook his hand. “Congratulations on surviving the year,” I said. And I hope he understood how much I meant it.

That wasn’t the 1940s. That was the 1990s. And I don’t doubt you could find similar instances today. It’s attitudes like Jim Wallace’s that give legitimacy to the kind of reflex hatred that was thrown at that kid all those years ago. It’s attitudes like Wallace’s that legitimise dudes throwing molotovs at mosques in Sydney because something blew up in Bali.

And that shit doesn’t just go away. Dealing with homophobia isn’t a matter of surviving your awkward adolescence to find the inner-urban Greens-voting world has become yours to enjoy. Not every gay man gets to flower into Benjamin Law’s dashing-young-homosexual-about-town persona. Some are awkward and nervous and clumsy and just plain uncharismatic. And the kind of damage done by that early hatred will stay with them for good.

Memo: Jim Wallace. Relax. Gay marriage does not entitle hordes of faggots to come round to your house and fuck you in the mouth. At least, not without your express consent. I kinda wish they would, because at least that might shut you up, but it’s not going to happen. So what exactly is your problem? None of this legislation has any effect on your life whatsoever. Your only connection is that it makes you uncomfortable from a distance. And guess what, champ? That doesn’t give you the right to have a say. Take a pew, Jim.

As for citing ‘Anzac values’, or however you want to phrase it, it’s a rolled-gold furphy. There was no charter of mutual ideology at the recruitment office, in any of our wars. Reasons for joining up were as varied and individual as the men themselves. You have no right to start designating what those men believed.

But if you want to boil things down to the basic principle on which the war was fought – the national political principle – it was that smaller and weaker powers should not be dominated by larger ones. It was that men (and yes, it was men) should have the right to determine their own form of government, and reap the rewards of their own lands. It was (putting aside the attendant hypocrisy of the Allies’ colonial pasts) that Germany had no right to push around Poland or Czechoslovakia, and Japan no right to stand over China or Korea. It was that those people should live free, and free from fear.

Australians deserve to live free from fear too. There were nearly a million Aussie servicemen and women in WWII. Stands to reason more than a few of them were gay, even if they didn’t admit it. How could they have, when most of the population would have regarded them as either criminal, deviant, disgusting, or mentally ill? How about the 70s or 80s, when gays starting to live more openly were bashed and killed in parks and streets? Or the Sudanese kid bashed to death in Melbourne a couple of years ago? How do you feel being a Lakemba Muslim when racial tensions start heating up? Living your life in fear doesn’t only apply to warzones.

Australian soldiers fought and died in 1943. Australian soldiers fought and died in 2011, too. And in 2010, and in 2009. So what about protecting the values they represented? Like the freedom to be yourself and love you who want. The freedom to practice your religion in peace. Values like a tolerance of difference. What about protecting a society where warmth and kindness and generosity of spirit are promoted ahead of distrust, segregation and disapproval? I’d like to live in a society like that. I might even be prepared to fight for it.

Because guess what, Jim? Faggots and towelheads are people too. And in a society that still calls them faggots and towelheads, they’re some of the most vulnerable people we’ve got.

If you want to talk to me about values worth dying for, protecting the vulnerable would be a good place to start.

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