Coalition MP Denies Existence Of Homophobia In Australia As NSW Parliament Apologises For Just That

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Today is a tale of two houses.

In NSW’s Parliament House, MPs have gathered for an apology. In 1978, 500 people met in Sydney’s Taylor Square in support of gay rights, a watershed moment that gave birth to the city’s now iconic Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, and fuelled a political movement that helped wind-back openly discriminatory legislation in the state. The protest was peaceful and grew in strength as it progressed until police moved in with violence, shattering the demonstration. Those involved in the march were outed by the media – their names, addresses, and jobs were published. Homosexuality was criminalised by NSW law at the time.

Today, the NSW Parliament will go some way towards acknowledging the wrongs done on behalf of the state, while the Fairfax media offered its own apology earlier in the week. (NSW Police are yet to do the same).

And then we skip to Canberra, to the Federal Parliament, where a Coalition MP arguing to dismantle a cheap and effective anti-bullying program for LGBTI school kids assures the chamber he has never met a homophobe in Australia. “Those opposite are reduced to name calling, and the moral trump words of which I speak, in terms such as homophobia,” Coalition MP Luke Simpkins said this morning. “To take that case in point it is defined to mean ‘an extreme or irrational fear of homosexuality.’ This is therefore a much used word to stomp on any form of commentary on issue such as this but it is also wrongly used. I’ve never met anyone who displays an extreme or irrational fear of homophobia…it isn’t used properly used to reflect reality, it is merely used to stop people from talking or commenting on any issue to do with same sex matters”.  

Simpkins isn’t paying too much attention to the emails being sent to MPs lobbying them to oppose the Safe Schools Coalition it seems. As we noted yesterday, they’re packed full of homophobic slurs. Nor could he be keeping too close an eye on his NSW based colleagues.

In calling for the axing of the Safe Schools program, Government backbencher Luke Simpkins tells the Parliament that he’s never met a homophobe in Australia.LGBTI kids must just be imagining being bullied for their sexuality I guess?Use the new Facebook reactions button to tell me what you think of that!

Posted by Tim Watts MP on Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Cory Bernardi had made a similar complaint the day before, after trying to hijack a Bill Shorten press conference and accusing the Opposition Leader of being a “fraud”. When Shorten shot back that at least he wasn’t a homophobe, Bernardi sulked off to the Senate, complaining about the name-calling during a speech in which he labelled Shorten “shallow”, “brittle”, “hollow”, and “unhinged”.

And so, in NSW, the Parliament (led by a conservative Christian Premier) apologises for its role in historical acts of state instigated discrimination, while those the Federal arena continue to dish it out. Police still bring violence against queer communities and protest movements, as they did in 1978. Children in Australian schools still face name calling, and far, far worse, on the basis of their sexuality and gender. And somehow, miraculously almost, those who have never known such discrimination still see themselves as the truest victims.

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Max Chalmers

Max Chalmers is a former New Matilda journalist and editorial staff member. His main areas of interest are asylum seekers, higher education and politics.

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