OOOOOKKK. Let’s try this again shall we.. I manage to have my browser crash twice in the same week writing about this issue so let’s hope third time’s a charm because goddamnit i’ve got something to say. Normally I don’t give right wing syndicated columnists the time of day because they don’t deserve it but this one had it coming. T Some of the responses to Miranda Devine’s latest column have been extremely well thought out. (Cath Deveny’s absolutely nailed it for me) and although I don’t intend to go into depth about the issue of marriage or “fatherlessness” In this post I’d like to provide a checklist of the rights as a young lesbian I already don’t have, just if she wasn’t already sure.
But before I do, I’d like to point out it is extremely easy to right off Ms Devine as a “right wing nut job” but these viewpoints are not without context. It seems absolutely no co-incidence to me that her column, decrying Penny Wong and lesbian parents in general, and lamenting “fatherlessness” comes in the same week as Bob Katter spoke at an anti same sex gathering in Canberra. (although I do think anyone who wears a cowboy hat to work is a bit crazy, but that’s beside the point) Backlash is an almost instantaneous reponse to any social movement that has even the slightest sniff of victory as I believe, having been involved in it for some time, the movemement for marriage equality does.
so here’s a little list, of the things I don’t have as a lesbian. Nor do my Gay, Bisexual, Intersex or Transgendered brothers and sisters – along with the things I am more likely to encounter.
If you are gay lesbian bisexual transgender or intersex:
you are more likely to suffer mental health problems directly related to your sexuality (depression and anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder due to street harrassment or other violence)
have been discriminated against by your immediate family – especially if you are a younger queer.
you are more likely to commit suicide than your heterosexual counterparts, once again, particularly if you are young.
suffer homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse.
commit recurring acts of self harm
suffer street harrassment, verbal abuse or violence. Lesbian and trans women are significantly more likely to suffer sexual assault yet are least represented in the official figures. If a lesbian or trans woman suffers violence on the basis of her gender or sexuality, there are no laws that recognize or prosecute these crimes as hate crimes. There are also very few resources within the police force to educate police officers as to sensitivity regarding LGBTI issues although this is an area that has improved somewhat.
be unable to marry the partner of your choice – an important albeit a contentious right it is still one we have not yet won, although some states are considering state based same sex marriage or civil unions. marriages conducted overseas are not recognized in Australia.
Be unable to adopt children in the majority of Australian states or have overseas adoptions recognized.
Be unable to make decisions regarding a partner’s medical care. I have experienced this with a partner suffering leukemia. Once she entered a palliative care situation the rights to make choices around her care were taken from me and placed in the hands of her parents despite myself as her next of kin.
face separation from your partner in aged care situations. Most aged care facilities do not recognize the rights of LGBTI couples to live together once they enter aged care or retirement situations.
Be unable to have the non biological same sex parent of any children concieved through IVF or anonymous donation recorded on the birth certificate. This proves problematic when separation of couples or the death of the biological parent occurs.
Be unable to access IVF at a reasonable cost, or in some states, at all. Many single heterosexual women have greater access to IVF in some states than Lesbian partners. This leads to the increasing use of anonymous donation which is what I believed sparked the ire of ms devine.
you are more likely to be told that your sexuality is a choice, and therefore none of the above rights should apply to you. (it doesn’t work in reverse. try telling a straight person they shouldn’t be allowed to get married. prepare for ensuing laughter)
you are more likely to suffer discrimination on the job, or suffer discriminatory hiring practices. Although it is illegal to openly not hire someone based on their sexuality, some organizations are using more covert ways of not hiring perfectly qualified LGBTI people. I have also experienced this.
If you are a man who’s had sex with a man even if you don’t identify exclusively as gay or bisexual you are unable to give blood regardless of negative HIV status. This comes in the face of people dying for want of donations and severe shortages in times of crises.
Having compiled this (by no means exhaustive) checklist I’d like to now know what rights a heterosexual middle class journalist should tell me i am not entitled to. There is no empirical, scientific evidence that shows any disparity between my ability to parent and that of my straight peers. In fact, I came from a straight christian home that was riven with domestic violence and sexual abuse. I should have been so lucky to be raised by the absolutely doting gay and lesbian parents I have seen. Nobody should use their privledge, societal or professional to deny the rights of others. If you are lucky enough to be able to get paid for having an opinion, make sure it is one that empowers people and shows what i perceive as the true spirit of journalism – fairness, equality and social justice.
in summary – don’t shit on my rights when they are decidedly fewer than yours.