Beating Bernardi: Responding To The Reactionary Right’s Homophobia


In 2010, due to a spate of homophobia, self-harm, and LGBTIQ youth suicides in Australia and abroad, some friends and I banded together to start Wear it Purple. At the time the Member for Wentworth, Malcolm Turnbull shook my hand and congratulated me for the Wear it Purple initiative.

Six years on, Wear it Purple is still run by high school students and undeniably there’s been a cultural shift in attitudes towards LGBTIQ students. This is reflected in the proliferation of Wear it Purple day events throughout Australia and the nation-wide implementation of the Safe Schools Program. Our aim – that all students should feel safe, accepted and proud at school – is within reach.

But the extreme right of the Liberal-National parties and reactionary pseudo-journalists have constructed another hurdle to full acceptance of LGBTIQ pupils. The reactionaries interview the blimpish boofheads about the terrors of this program, which promotes acceptance and supports students. The ultra-conservative, straight, white, heterosexual men are outraged and presume to speak for people with far less privilege than they have.

Cory Bernardi.
Cory Bernardi.

The prejudiced views of Senator Cory Bernardi and his rightist droogs are shared by many dictators, despots and despicable leaders, including Putin, Kim Jong-un, Mugabe, and ISIS terrorists. Those who’ve come out against the Safe Schools Program aren’t reasonable conservatives, they’re homophobic reactionaries, who want a return to ‘the days of the old school yard’ where LGBTIQ students lived in fear and silence.

Fundamentally, this move by Team Reactionary is not about protection of students but just the next phase of the internal Liberal Party culture war against Prime Minister Turnbull. It’s a shame upon these protagonists that they are willing to sacrifice the welfare and lives of Australian youth for a crass political game.

But if Team Reactionary think we’ll watch the progress of the last six years backpedalled for cheep political points, they’ve got another think coming. So bring it on Bernardi. Bring it on.

Katherine Hudson is a student at the University of Sydney and a social activist. She co-founded Wear it Purple (2010), was one of Time Out magazine’s 30 under 30 change makers, and was a speaker for TedXYouth@Sydney. Katherine is an active member of the ALP and a former local government candidate. During 2015 she was a panelist on ABC's Q&A special about LGBTIQ issues.