Monday, 13 June 2016

Orlando, Hate and Homophobia

The attack in Orlando was a gay hate crime.

The Prime Minister today initially omitted this fact from his expression of sympathy.

He later changed his language, calling the mass shooting “an attack on the gay community and an attack on all of us - on all our freedoms, the freedom to gather together, to celebrate, to share time with friends.” He went on to say that there “are people outside our country, and some within it, who hate the freedoms that we enjoy and would seek to threaten them and undermine them with violence... Together, at home and abroad, we continue the fight against terrorism and stand up for the values of our free nations.”

There seems to be no acknowledgment of the glaring irony. What are these “freedoms that we enjoy”? Certainly not the freedom to marry. For that, we must argue the case during a plebiscite that is sure to unleash homophobic hate.

It's difficult to feel that it's "an attack on all of us" when the LGBTQ community are not equal citizens.

Here in Brisbane, it’s great to see the Story Bridge, City Hall and Victoria Bridge lit in the colours of the US and rainbow flags, and the Pride flag flying on City Hall.

Yet alone among Australian states, Queensland's age of consent laws remain unequal. Those under the age of 18 engaging in anal sex face up to 14 years in jail. The age of consent is 16 for oral and vaginal sex. Also in Queensland, a person charged with the murder of a gay person can use the “gay panic defence”. This allows the killer to claim they were provoked by an unwanted homosexual advance, a claim that can act as a partial defence reducing the crime to manslaughter. 

Under Queensland law, fear of gays can be partially acceptable as a reason to kill.

Legislation to remove the defence is expected to be introduced to the Queensland Parliament later this year. Let's hope it passes.

Let’s also remember that 79 countries still have anti-homosexuality laws on the books.

Let's not ‪#‎PrayForOrlando‬. Religion often sits at the source of hate and homophobia. Instead, stand up, be heard, demand.

Brisbane Pride invites those wishing to express their grief and mourn the loss of those in Orlando to gather at Reddacliff Place in Brisbane at 6pm on Tuesday, June 14. Candles will be available on the night.