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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 07 October 2017
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 7 OCTOBER 2017 23 OPINION SSO Concert Hall. PHOTO: SSO obstetricians and gynaecologists and radiologists as well as other health professional organisations who have called for people to vote ‘Yes’. Maybe it is because their statement reads as follows: "The RACGP Curriculum on LGBTIQ health is comprehensive and clear. It is also clear that all RACGP members are aware of the significant challenges LGBTIQ people face in Australian communities. GPs are trusted to treat all LGBTIQ patients with the utmost respect and dignity, regardless of one's own personal or religious beliefs. Marriage equality is a human rights issue. RACGP Council shares the concerns of the Australian National Mental Health Commission that the prolonged debate has heightened discrimination against LGBTIQ people. Last week, Council provided a neutral statement in order not to add to the debate. [...] In conclusion, and to be explicit: the RACGP acknowl- edges that discrimination, bullying and harassment of LGBTIQ people does have a severe, damaging impact on mental and physical health outcomes for affected individuals, their families and communities. The RACGP Council strongly endorses equality and inclusion regardless of race or ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, religion or disability in all aspects of life, in particular, education, employment, medical care, relationships and certainly marriage". Yes, it's hard to come out and say "let's not politicise medicine", when the people treating your illnesses and filling out your tablet prescriptions say that "Significant proportions of LGBTI people report hiding their sexuality or gender identity at work (39 per cent), at social and community events (42 per cent) and when accessing services (34 per cent). Verbal homophobic abuse has been experienced by 60 per cent of LGBTI individuals, and 20 per cent have experienced physical abuse." When people who are experts in medicine come against the relics of history who advocate 'conversion therapies' for gay people (a practice condemned by all medical practitioners and mental health professionals as the equivalent of mutilation), it should not be difficult to decide who's right and who's wrong. And this is why there has not been any significant reaction to the RACGP decision: because in the end, this is about choosing between common sense and irrational fears. When the peak medical associations and scientific bodies come and support same-sex marriage, what they say is that it is not okay to say ‘No’ because the real repercussions of discrimination are more tangible and real than the spectre of ‘political correctness’ raised by the ‘traditional marriage’ advocates. It is not okay to say ‘No’ and it is definitely not okay to stay neutral. Because when it comes to human rights, staying on the sidelines means condoning oppression. This is why artists and scientists, athletes and academics have been stepping out in support of a change in legislation that will ensure that same-sex couples are not second-class citizens. When it comes to that, you need to take a stance. When it comes to that, it is definitely okay to politicise the arts, medicine, sports, religion. Because they are political anyway, even when they don't profess to be. And they are at their most political precisely when there's no political issue to debate. The arts are nothing, are completely useless, if they are not actively participating in public discourse. And they participate even when they refrain to enter the debate. Even when it's just to entertain, they are political - because they divert people's mind from pressing issues. This diversion can be nuanced and have various meanings. It can be a kind of denial, a way for people to avert their eyes from reality - or it can be a valuable respite, a chance for people to replenish powers before they continue to fight for their cause. But when it comes to presumably non-political entities actually being as politicised as it gets, nothing beats the organised church; its role has always been political. From primal communities to the modern era, religious leaders have been closely associated with politics, being one step behind state leaders, acting as their conscience, blessing political acts and ruling people. Because what else, if not political, is the role of an entity dictating rules for people to follow, guidelines on how to leave their lives if they don't want to risk eternal damnation? A few months ago, from these pages, I expressed my concern that the church risks to stay on the wrong side of history - and the wrong side of humanity. This is exactly what we have been experiencing, these past few weeks. The church deciding to betray part of the population, to condone oppression and discrimination, for fear of losing grip of a set of traditional values. The saddest part is that there is no argument to support this position. This is why they try to divert the debate from civil rights and humanity to irrelevant issues such as freedom of speech, political correctness, safe schools, traditions. And it is telling that all their arguments can be summarised in one phrase, one unmistakably emerging in any online debate on the issue: ‘God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve’. Adherence to tradition, literal interpretation of religious texts, fear of change, all is summed up in this stale joke. Which was never funny in the first place.
30 September 2017
14 October 2017