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…”
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.
But 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.