The Great Backlash, the Religious Discrimination Bill is here and it is literally killing us.
Lunatic laws rolling back LGBTIQ+ discrimination protections and attacking trans people have been proposed in NSW and will inevitably spring up in other states.
Nationally, we face the looming threat of the Religious License-to-Discriminate Bill that will take away the rights of millions of Australians, especially LGBTIQ+ people.
Those prelates and pastors who lost the 2017 marriage survey have arranged a compensation package that will grant them unprecedented powers to discriminate against and demean us.
A lot of attention has focussed on the discrimination laws that will be overridden in the name of “religious freedom”.
I’m partly to blame for that because Tasmania, having the best discrimination laws, has the most to lose.
But we have much more to lose than our laws.
In the US and UK LGBTIQ+ discrimination, hate crime, and mental health distress are increasing dramatically.
Some commentators put it down to the pandemic, and lockdowns plus scapegoating certainly have played a role.
But a closer look reveals another culprit.
In the US discrimination and hate crime goes up when states pass religious freedom laws that take existing discrimination protections away or enact anti-trans bathroom bills.
In the UK it’s the same when anti-trans figures are in the news or right-wing politicians talk about “religious freedom”.
In Australia, we don’t keep LGBTIQ+ stats like our two newest/oldest allies.
LGBTIQ+ Australia’s are not counted in the Census.
Australia’s police services keep poor records of hate crimes if they record them at all.
We don’t know how much discrimination LGBTIQ+ people face, especially in the name of religion, because most states don’t protect us from such mistreatment.
What I can confidently say is that over the last eighteen months I have received an unprecedented increase in reports of LGBTIQ+ people experiencing discrimination, harassment and violence, not just in Tasmania but nationally.
I understand a number of LGBTIQ+ and mainstream support services have experienced the same increase.
Two years ago, Just.Equal Australia conducted a large national survey that found LGBTIQ+ people felt as bad then, because of the religious discrimination debate, as they did when our marriage rights were debated in 2017.
It is likely to be worse now.
Put all these jigsaw pieces together and the picture is alarming.
The protracted debate about taking our rights away, and the prospect that may actually happen, is empowering every prejudice and hatred we thought we were done with.
Those who still feel aggrieved by marriage equality, and those who exploit such grievances, will hear the message from Capitol Hill loud and clear: get the queers.
If the Religious License-to-Discriminate Bill passes, it will inspire even more haters to demean, attack and kill us or drive us to kill ourselves.
There’s no time to waste. The Religious License-to-Discriminate Bill could pass as early as February, especially if Labor and the moderate Liberals fold (which is more than possible).
Please send a submission to the current inquiry into the Bill!
Also, email Labor asking it not to support the Bill.
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