This week I was infuriated by statements from commentators on several media outlets stating that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities should be furious with Muslims for what happened in Orlando.
Herald Sun columnist Rita Panahi said this week on Tom Elliott’s 3AW Drive program that “the regressive left” and LGBTI people refuse to get angry at “Muslims who throw gays off buildings” because of political correctness. Tom Elliott seemed to agree with her.
Andrew Bolt, host of The Bolt Report on Sky News, said something similar. Bolt questioned why “gay groups have said virtually nothing” on the persecution of gay people in Middle Eastern countries. Bolt says the media doesn’t report on it, which is absolute rubbish.
The media has indeed covered it, and of course it angers people of the LGBTI communities. In 2014, members of the LGBTI communities were upset with the new partnership between the AFL and Royal Brunei airlines. Activists called for the end of the then new partnership because of Brunei’s stance on homosexuality (10 years imprisonment, and the impending introduction of the death penalty). As a result, the partnership ceased.
Earlier this year, LGBTI activist Zulhuz Mannan was murdered in Bangladesh, another country that persecutes homosexuality. LGBTI community members were devastated, and the world saw an outpour of grief and solidarity.
These stories are told, but because they aren’t told with such hatred and anger, perhaps Bolt, Panahi and Elliott don’t see them.
Panahi also said if it was a Christian shooter, there’d be “no hesitation from the left” to attack the Christian community. That’s also ridiculous, but now it seems Panahi is categorising all LGBTI peoples as ‘left’, which is also a grand generalisation.
There is a very solid reason why LGBTI peoples (regardless of their political positioning) don’t respond with hatred – especially towards groups.
We have been discriminated against and persecuted our entire lives. We know exactly what it’s like.
Too regularly we have Australian politicians tell us we’re “child groomers”.
We have Church leaders who tell us we have a mental disorder.
Many of us even have family members who don’t think we’re fit to have children.
Do we hate all people of Christian faith? No, because we know not all people of Christian faith believe we are child groomers, paedophiles or second-class citizens. But more pointedly, we are aware that LGBTI people can also be of Christian faith. Not only are we aware of this, but we accept them and show compassion.
Here and abroad, there are calls to “ban Muslims” in Western countries and hate their religion because of their beliefs. It’s no secret that Muslim countries have abhorrent laws against homosexuality and transgender people. Some people of Islamic faith throw gay men off buildings, stone us to death and now shoot us in nightclubs.
But this does not mean we should generalise all Muslims and turn hatred towards them because we know not all Muslims carry those horrid beliefs either.
We also know there are LGBTI people of Muslim faith; some are even quite prominent in their community. We need to be there for these people as well – now more than ever.
So yes, we know exactly what it’s like to be persecuted and hated. We know what it does to our communities, and I’ll tell you now, the outcome is grim; LGBTI Australians have the highest rates of suicidality of any population in Australia. Why would we ever want to do the same to someone else?
Now is not a time to call for hatred. You’re only trying to divide us.
James Findlay is the Program Director of Australia’s LGBTI community radio station, JOY 94.9. Views and opinions are his own. Follow James on Twitter @james_findlay.