Shorten on principle

CREATED ON // Saturday, 26 July 2014 Written by // Sam Butler

Bill Shorten’s decision to deliver the keynote speech at the Australian Christian Lobby’s 2014 national conference in October proves Labor has learnt very little from its mistakes of the past.

Julia Gillard was only too happy to engage with this organisation whose long, tawdry list of offences against GLBTI people and families confirm it’s not so much the Australian Christian Lobby as the Australian Anti-Queer Lobby. She drew the line only when Jim Wallace equated homosexuality to smoking for lifestyle risks – and was widely praised when she did for calling out an extremist organisation on its extremist minority views.

Later, Kevin Rudd – an actual God botherer, not a pretend one like Gillard – called out Christian homophobia in a memorable Q&A appearance. For a moment, it looked as though the ALP was finally realising there were no votes to be gained in cosying up to the hard-right Christian lobby and was prepared to offer a true point of difference to voters from the very sympathetic Coalition.

Shorten has wiped all this good work off the radar in one fell swoop.


Above: Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. Photo: ABC

The most frustrating thing in all this is trying to work out why. It’s been proven that the ACL, for all its highly publicised bluster, actually isn’t anywhere near as electorally influential as it likes to pretend it is. And regardless, it’s never going to endorse a party that has several senior figures – including Shorten himself, no less – publicly advocating marriage equality.

On the surface, it looks as though Shorten is trying to have a bet each way – claiming to support marriage equality while tacitly endorsing an organisation not just powerfully opposed to it, but which only very recently equated same-sex marriage to polygamous and child marriages.

Of greater disappointment is the deafening silence from Tanya Plibersek, Penny Wong and other senior ALP figures who’ve been strong equality advocates willing to speak out against hatred and vilification directed at LGBTI people and students, often by organisations like the ACL. But perhaps this is symptomatic of the broader problem in the ALP, that the Left is invariably outflanked by the Right, and the leader of the party, no matter which faction he or she comes from, is invariably beholden to the likes of Joe de Bruyn, Tony Burke and, more recently, Joe Bullock and other anti-queer members.

It’s safe to say no MP in either of the major parties is likely to address a gathering of white supremacists these days. But too many from both sides are only too willing address groups that are the sexuality and gender equivalents of such racial hate groups. Instead of condemning the ACL, Shorten is legitimising them, as is any politician who accepts an invitation from them to speak at one of their gatherings.

And Labor, which should know better, comes off worse for it.


Sam Butler

Sam Butler

Sam Butler is a freelance writer who's written extensively on politics and current affairs for SX, MCV and GayNewsNetwork.com.au for more than a decade. You can find him on Twitter: @samsonjbutler

Comments (2)

  • The_Observer

    21 August 2014 at 17:13 |
    I'm old school and object to the concept of gay-marriage and I also don't trust polls that have loaded questions and canvas sub-populations. If you going to legislate for something that is going alter societal constructs then have a referendum of the general population with just one question, " Should the government allow same-sex marriage" . That way you'll truly know the population's attitude.


  • David

    27 July 2014 at 07:52 |
    It is shocking Bill Shorten is the loud chorus line to a cult that seeks to imprison us, and make our life so much harder. A group that is headquarters at the intersection of high rates of suicide, hate crimes, and self-harm . The Christian Lobby does not need his gratitude, but his commendation. I just fear giving his public office and financial support to the Christian Lobby, could be the final push, for some doing it tough. What on earth is Bill Shorten doing saying essentially, people who liken us to cancer, are a legitimate Christian voice?

    Support for Marriage Equality is counterfeit. This is because Labor also wants married couples to be sacked at work and ruined. If you are one of the thousands of people who work in government funded religious businesses, Labor commits a hate crime by denying job security on the basis a sexuality, they are clearly still uncomfortable with anyone out. Bill Shortens faction tried to get rid of Penny Wong. The party is not Obama, ending discrimination on an almost daily basis, they are a party of the Catholic extreme right faction.

    There is not binding vote on equality, so when the vote fails, and it will, as Labor is still stacked with Conroy, Bullock, and many other people who appear to believe in some sort of heterosexual supremacy, then what is Labor offering for four years of government? If the party does not believe married couples should be free, what do they believe? Perhaps it is the extraordinary amount of violence on us, the suicide rates, the hate crimes, because with Labor, we are still to be singled out for discrimination no matter what the outcome of a marriage conscience vote. The party belongs in a museum next to their infamous White Australia Policy. It is difficult to see where else it belongs speaking up for the Christian Lobby.


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