Categories
Gender/ sexuality LGBTQ rights

LGBTQ+ Muslims deserve our support

Islam symbol and mosque (top), LGBTQ pride flag (bottom)
Images: iStock.

 

One thing I like about the broadcaster, SBS is how they often present minority and diverse communities.

Sometimes, minority identities clash. LGBTQ+ Muslims often feel this clash.

Last Thursday in the lead up to 2020 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, SBS Pride published an article on a Muslim Pride event coming up in London. It’s set to happen on April 11 after a successful crowdfunding campaign.

Unfortunately, the organisers and participants can expect backlash.

LGBTQ+ Muslims face opposition among Muslims and the LGBTQ+ community

It’s no secret that there is often hostility between Islam and LGBTQ+ people. Countries and provinces that implement Sharia law often outlaw homosexuality. The punishments for this ‘crime’ often include execution or other barbaric practices, such as flogging.

LGBTQ+ Muslims who grow up in Western countries are often ostracised and abused by their families and community. Lebanese – Australian, Hussein Hawley told the ABC his family tried to “beat the gay” out of him before kicking him out of home.

Like many other LGBTQ+ people, LGBTQ+ Muslims are at high risk of suicide.

LGBTQ+ people of colour face discrimination in LGBTQ+ spaces

Muslims are not the only people who struggle fitting within the LGBTQ+ community.

People of colour, (including non – Muslims) report being discriminated against.

According to Stonewall UK, 51% LGBTQ+ people of colour have experienced racism within the LGBTQ+ community. Unfortunately, this number rose to 61% for black people. This is not right and needs to be condemned.

LGBTQ+ Muslims and the no true Scotsman fallacy

When I was reading some comments on Facebook, I was disappointed, although not surprised. The whole ‘let’s see this happen  in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, etc’, came up. As if LGBTQ+ Muslims are responsible for theocratic and totalitarian regimes. Are LGBTQ+ Christians responsible for the likes of Steven Anderson or Roger Jiminez? I don’t think so. No doubt, LGBTQ+ Muslims may face uncertainty and de – programming and find their way through their beliefs. Many LGBTQ+ people of faith face similar struggles.

Plus, there was the No True Scotsman statements, i.e. ‘you can’t be gay and Muslim’. Here’s the thing: you can’t choose your sexual orientation or gender identity. And you can’t change it. Ask any LGBTQ+ Christian pushed into conversion therapy.

However, all people should be able to freely choose their faith. Everyone deserves the right to explore their faith and relationship with the divine.

LGBTQ+ people of faith also deserve the opportunity to participate in a community. And the LGBTQ+ community needs to be a viable option if their faith community isn’t.

The LGBTQ+ community often campaign for inclusive and non – discriminatory policies. Maybe it’s time that some of them walk the walk.

SBS’s coverage of Mardi Gras reflects diversity

SBS did a great job in broadcasting the Mardi Gras. I liked how they reflected the diversity within the LGBTQ+, including ethnic  and religious diversity. They’re often good like that.

 

I can only hope that all LGBTQ+ people will be able to feel welcomed in the future. I hope that Pride and the LGBTQ+ community as a whole will become a place where everyone can be their true selves and be embraced. I hope LGBTQ+ spaces become safe spaces for those who need it most.

 

Are LGBTQ+ spaces exclusionary to people of faith or colour? Have you felt excluded from an LGBTQ+ space? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

 

 

Categories
Culture

Study shows children’s books lack ethnic diversity

Boy reading book in library
Image: iStock

Competency in reading and writing in school – aged children has been a major concern for parents, teachers and commentators for some time.

In 2018, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) Report claimed Australia’s 15 – year – olds were just above average in literacy. All the results in English, Mathematics and Science were the worst they’d been since 2000.

Children books lack ethnically diverse characters

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Edith Cowan University professor, Dr. Helen Adam studied the cultural diversity in books aimed at kindergarten/ prep aged children.

Out of 2413 books, only 18% (approximately 434 books) featured non – white characters.

Even the most anti – politically correct crusader could see something wrong with this. Right?

The UK has been worse, with less than 5% of children’s books having at least one non – white character.

 

Immigration and ethnic diversity is a reality

Immigration is a major part of Australia. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ 2016 Census, most of Australia’s immigrants come from the UK and New Zealand. However, between 2006 to 2016, the rate of immigration from those countries slightly decreased.

Conversely, immigration from Asia has increased. There has been soikes in immigration from China, India and Nepal.

Could this disparity lead to white supremacy among children and young people?

The Sydney Morning Herald feared lack of diversity in characters could create white supremacy in Caucasian children. To be honest, I think that’s a bit alarmist.

However, when I first read the article, my immediate thought was how would it affect the education of children? Would children from non – White/ non – English speaking backgrounds and their families feel so discouraged that they’d isolate themselves? Maybe refuse to speak English at all? If we expect migrants and their families to assimilate, I think we need to meet them half way. They should be included in  all facets of society, including in literature and pop culture.

 

Will their ethnic diverse authors in the future?

Looking briefly at Booktopia’s Top 50 Favourite Australian Authors of 2018, most of the authors listed were from a European background. The exception was Vietnamese – born, Anh Doh.

Authors should be able to write about characters who are not the same as them. Characters can have different ethnicities, sexual orientations, life experiences, etc. Not all characters have to reflect the exact identities and experiences of the author/s.

Having said that, it’s not surprising that most authors create characters who somehow reflect their knowledge and experiences. And ethnicity may play a role in that.

Will diversity in characters change in the future? With our current trends in migration – an increased South and East Asian migration rate, it’s possible that we’ll have more authors from different ethnic backgrounds, hence characters.

Of course, publishers need to be open to potential authors who were not born here. Then there’s the Australian market. How popular are books from non – European migrants/ second generation Australians going to be? Only time will tell.

 

All children deserve a decent education. Children should be able to read about characters they can relate to. This includes children who’s family has cone from overseas.

 

What do you think about ethnic diversity in children’s books? Is there enough? Do you think it’s important? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Categories
News Opinion/Commentary

Is it time for corporations to drop ‘woke’ inclusion policies?

 

ABC studio entrance
Image: iStock

The ABC has faced criticism for surveys that asked about employees’ gender identity, ethnicity and sexuality.

*Facepalm*.

First, why do the need to know? I mean asking about someone’s sexuality or gender identity? I have real issues with that. LGBTQ+ should be safe to come out if and when they feel comfortable. They shouldn’t be put on the spot like that.

This is just the latest of corporate ‘virtual signalling’. At worst, it may achieve the exact opposite of what they intended.

Corporations should learn from the Rugby Australia fiasco

(This is the LAST time I am ever writing about this).

The recently settled legal feud between Rugby Australia and former Wallabies player, Israel Folau shows how ‘inclusion’ policies can backfire.

You’ve probably heard the story a zillion times (I know I have), but for those who haven’t, here’s the quick  rundown.

Folau posted a paraphrase (NOT A QUOTE), of  a modern (and sometimes contested) translation of 1 Corinthians 6:9 on Instagram. It’s commonly used by the Religious Right in the U.S. It’s used to condemn LGBTQ+ people.

Rugby Australia CEO, Raelene Castle then sacked the Wallabies player for an (alleged) breach of contract.

I wish she hadn’t. For months and months, journalists, particularly from Newscorp have obsessively defended Folau and attacked Castle. They painted Folau as a victim of discrimination because of his Christianity. LGBTQ+ people and their so – called allies have been made to look like the ones discriminating.

To add to the shit show, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce (who’s gay and was vocal for same – sex marriage), has been accused of getting in Castle’s ear, creating pressure on her to sack Folau (Qantas is a key RA sponsor).

The Australian Christian Lobby has played the victim card for Folau. After Folau lost his GoFundMe page, the ACL Managing Director, Martyn Isles set his own donations page for Folau’s case. It gained A$2.2 million.

You read that right. A$2.2 million was raised for multi – millionaire ex Rugby Union. All because of what RA did.

 

Just this week, the Folaus (Israel and his wife Maria) and RA made a settlement outside court and apologies have been made. Israel Folau has received a payout, although the exact amount is not known to the public.

 

This has definitely blown up in Castle’s face. What’s more, it hasn’t done anything to further LGBTQ+ rights. In fact, it’s made conservatives dig their heels in, demanding ‘religious freedom’.

Virtue signalling does not encourage empathy

People are getting sick of political correctness. Many straight people don’t see why LGBTQ+ people need extra protection, more ‘rights’, etc. And why should they? Think about it. Straight people don’t have worry about coming out or have their identities questioned or demonised.

Generally, straight people of faith don’t have to struggle to find a community that is going to accept them for who they are.

Straight people are the majority who don’t have to think about these things (and more). I think that’s why many get frustrated for having LGBTQ+ issues ‘shoved down their throats’ all the time.

Better way to foster inclusion

Keep it simple. Foster a workplace culture of respect. Have policies that says that abuse is not going to be accepted, period.

i think it’s time corporations stop singling minorities out. Everyone is tired of it. Everyone should stick with their job description: Rugby Australia, focus on Rugby, Qantas, focus on getting people from A to B, etc. Leave LGBTQ+ protests to Mardi Gras.

 

What are your thoughts on the Israel Folau/ Rugby Australia saga? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Categories
Opinion/Commentary

Asexual Awareness Week: Is asexual awareness still needed?

Asexuality flag in shape of heart
Image: iSock

In June 2013, I started my blogging journey with Asexuality In A Sexual World. In it, I explored what it meant to be asexual and attitudes towards asexuality, particularly in the media.

While it’s not the first time asexuality was talked or written about (the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network started up in 2001), it was still a fairly new in the mainstream. The media just started to talk about and interview people who were asexual, like Jo Qualmann. Some attitudes towards were just plain wrong, presumptuous and, frankly, quite narky. (I remember exploding on my blog after the segment on The Project).

 

Five years later, I feel asexuality has become more visible in the mainstream. More media outlets are doing interviews and publishing articles on asexuality and how it affects individuals. Just recently, women’s site, SheSaid published an article about a woman who identified as asexual and how it affected her religious upbringing and her marriage.

I think that’s something that has changed over the last five years; more media outlets are hearing from non – aromantic asexual people and the complexities that often arises. In the beginning, very few media outlets explored how asexuality affected romantic relationships.

 

I’ve also noticed that there are many LGBTQ+ spaces, at least online, are becoming more inclusive and welcoming to asexual/ ace – spec people. When I first started learning and writing about asexuality, I realised that there was a disconnect, even a bit of hostility between LGBTQ+ groups and asexual people. I remember doing a post in my first blog asking people’s opinion about asexual people being apart of the LGBTQ+ community, and I got somw comments from people not feeling like a part of the LGBTQ community (unless they were allies). Now, the acronym itself has often being extended to include asexual people; (LGBTQIA+).

Where to from here? 

I’m amazed and pleased at how asexuality visibility has come since 2013. However, there are two areas where I think there can be improvement: entertainment and education.

Needless to say, there is a lack of mainstream shows and movies that have asexual characters or where sexual/ romantic relationships aren’t at the forefront. Last year, Netflix’s Riverdale, let asexual fans down when Jughead came out as asexual, only to enter a straight relationship. A similar thing happened on Neighbours  earlier this year, when Mark Brennan (Scott McGregor) suggested that Jack (Andrew Morley) was asexual when he was resisting Paige Smith (Olympia Valance). Paige an$ Jack were mutually attracted to each other. Asexuality hasn’t been mentioned, let alone explored, since.

A more important area where I think asexuality has been absent is education, especially in Personal Development Health and Physical Education (PDHPE). Asexuality, or romantic orientation or relationships without sex was never spoken about when I was at school. The program, Safe Schools did have resources that mentioned asexuality and did distinguish romantic and sexual orientation, but, due to political controversies, the program has been scrapped by most of the States and Territories and the Federal Government has ended its fundin* of the program. I doubt whether the Coalition or Labor will replace it with another LGBTQ+ support program or curriculum anytime soon.

I think asexual awareness has come a long way and there are many individuals; ace and non – ace that should be commended.

 

 

 

Question to asexual/ ace – spec readers: where do ypu think improvements can be made? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

Categories
Opinion/Commentary

The AFL has every right to support the LGBTQ+ community, including same – sex marriage

I was going to criticise the AFL’s stance on same – sex marriage. My argument was that they shouldn’t it’s a hot – button issue and they may alienate spectators. Reading Justin Quill’s opinion piece in yesterday’s Herald Sun gave me a new perspective.

Companies DO have a right to express a view on social issues. As Quill pointed out, this is not the first time that the AFL has supported social causes. The AFL has had a reputation of trying to combat racism in the game, starting with former St. Kilda player, Nicky Winmar, who lifted up his Guernsey to defy racism back in 1993.

Now, the AFL has turned it’s attention to supporting LGBTQ+ people.

Over the past two years, the AFL has had the “Pride Round” between St. Kilda and the Sydney Swans. As I wrote last year in another one of my blogs, I supported this as I though it was good that the AFL were taking a stance against discrimination. I still hold that view.

While there are no openly gay or bi men in the AFL, there are two AFLW players in long – term same – sex relationships. It’s great that these women have gotten so much support, both from the media and the AFL.

 

Having said that, the AFL hasn’t been without controversy when it comes to homophobia, or at least, a lack of acceptance. In 2010, former Western Bulldogs and Brisbane Lions player Jason Akermanis controversially suggested that gay players should stay in the closet to avoid making other players uncomfortable. Maybe Akermanis’ comment revealed that, at the time, the AFL wasn’t openly embracing of gay and bi players.  Last week on ABC’s The Drum, former footballer – turned LGBTQ advocate, Jason Ball highlighted how hard it was to be gay in football. This was largely due to the prevalence of homophobic slurs and jokes in the game.

Jason Ball talks about how hard it has been for gay footballers when talking about the AFL’s controversial change in their logo in support of same – sex marriage.

The AFL has worked to tackle racism in the AFL and now turns it’s attention to homophobia and bi – phobia. This is great, as players, regardless of background, religion or sexuality should be able to play the game they love.

Likewise, LGBTQ+ spectators, should be free from discrimination and any that does occur will be condemned. LGBTQ+ who want attend a AFL game should be able to without fear of having slurs hurled at them or worse. Same – sex couples should be able to attend and enjoy the football like any straight couple. To be honest, it’s a shame that this still seems to be a controversial idea.

Regarding the criticism that the AFL is trying to enforce same – sex marriage on  the spectators and players, Quill made the point that no same – sex marriage opponent was being thrown out because of their stance. If that was the case, it’d be wrong. What the AFL are trying to do is make LGBTQ+ people feel welcome and that discrimination won’t be tolerated. That’s not a bad thing. Is it?

What are your thoughts on the AFL’s stance on gay marriage or the Pride Round? Let me know in the comments below.