Beyond Religious Privilege and Segregation: Becoming Good Neighbours as LGBTIQA+ and religious Australians together
Sometimes Parliament is seen as a soap opera. If only it were! For though it remains so white and suburban, even TV’s Neighbours has just included a transgender character. It is a positive sign of the times but makes recent political developments all the more incongruous. For whilst the wonderful Georgie Stone enlivens Erinsborough High, in politics a green light is being given to repression. Why are we rushing towards religious discrimination laws when we’ve not yet even sorted our schools issues? So the question I want to pose is this: what kind of neighbours do we want to be as Australians together?
Current parliamentary discussion is failing trans people - not least those of faith - in both process and specific proposals. Hence Equal Voices calls for postponement, into at least the middle of next year, to enable genuine consultation with those who will bear the greatest cost. The proposed Religious Discrimination Bill is a move towards enshrining disturbing forms of religious privilege and segregation which can only corrode our pluralist culture...
The recent Queensland election was a stunning reversal of the equally historic LNP landslide (at least in seats) of three years before. Although it has left the State Parliament in an interesting and acute balance of political forces, it was an emphatic rejection both of the authoritarian style of the Campbell Newman government and of the proposed policies of the lease of state assets. Is this simply a sign of the fickleness of the contemporary electorate and/or also a sign of a shift in people's attitudes to the politics of austerity?
Across the world there are a few signs of a turning away from the kind of politics and economics which reflect the relentless advocacy of large corporations and wealthy interests and which have steadily and disproportionately increased the wealth and power of the rich in comparisons to the rest of us. In both Greece and Spain, in the face of economic crisis, the general populace has begun to fight back against the recipes of more austerity forced upon them, supporting parties which have had the courage to take another line. It is too soon to say if this might spread. Queenslanders certainly can hardly be said to have suddenly become born again Socialists, particularly as the Labor state leadership is also politically cautious and committed to the further development of some problematic environmental and economic schemes. Yet when the Federal Government still talks about the problem being its communication methods rather than its concrete policies, one wonders if it is really listening. Its budget last year was a disaster in alienating many of the less wealthy, even before crass and clumsy remarks by the Treasurer about the poor and the most recent farcical announcement of a knighthood for Prince Philip. Paul Kelly published his song the Land of the Little Kings back in 1998 but it still speaks powerfully today. It would be nice to think that the people have finally decided to do something about it, even if politicians may still have tin ears.
Jo Inkpin is an Anglican priest serving as Minister of Pitt St Uniting Church in Sydney, a trans woman, theologian & justice activist. These are some of my reflections on life, spirit, and the search for peace, justice & sustainable creation.