Albo: The largest threat to queer rights in Australia

Albo flipping off the queers

This article is based on the views expressed by Amy Sargeant on the site formally known as Twitter, which I am reproducing with my own notes, opinions and additions, to demonstrate the harms Anthony Albanese has perpetrated against the Australian queer community, but especially trans people such as myself. Given the site formally known as Twitter no longer allows threads to be viewed without an account, it is no longer a suitable place to store evidence. I aim to keep this document updated as more developments emerge.

'The agenda was too big':
Anthony Albanese wants to remove LGBTIQ references from policy
The damn queer agenda!

This headline comes from the June 30 2019 article on The New Daily: ‘The agenda was too big’: Anthony Albanese wants to remove LGBTIQ references from policy [archive]. Using “agenda” when referring to queer people is suspicious enough, but of course he’s talking here about removing us wholesale from the Labor National Platform document.

The New Daily has confirmed that Mr Albanese’s preferred approach is to replace LGBTIQ throughout the platform by simply referring to the need to end discrimination on the basis of sexuality or gender.

You may notice as I have that this neglects that transgender healthcare in Australia is barely covered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme at all. There’s whole swathes of administration methods unavailable in off the shelf preparations, and surgery isn’t covered to any serious extent, despite still being required in New South Wales to update documentation.

I’ve noted previously that queer policy was ripped out of the National Platform in the Albanese affected document, almost all mentions of trans people are in reference to refugees, which Labor have, in lockstep with the previous government, have committed to mistreating wholesale.

The 2021 National Platform document which heavily waters down support for trans people.
Commitments to trans people in the 2021 Labor National Platform dropped for feel-good non-discrimination position, that we’ll see come the election, means absolutely nothing.

It’s worth noting that since Labor won the following election, and also took New South Wales, the Australian Labor political Party have effectively allowed for protection of conversion abusers in their pro-discrimination legislation. A threat that Anthony Albanese has made in resurrecting the failed Federal Religious Discrimination Bill that stalled after passing the House of Representatives early 2022.

As seen above, Anthony Albanese showing contempt to queer activists with a raised finger, as reported by Alice Workman [archive] in his party’s dismissal of real concerns to the failed Religious Discrimination Bill, which he has confirmed he wants to revive.

Speaking of the Religious Discrimination Bill, in the run up to introducing it to the House of Representatives, multiple protests were run around the country, completely ignored by Labor. It fell to activists, Socialist Alternative and Socialist Alliance outside Liberal senator Michaela Cash’s office in Perth, someone who seems committed to fight trans existence since.

Labor eventually helped pass the Religious Discrimination Bill on Thursday 10th February, 2022 amended to remove Section 38 (3) of the Sex Discrimination Act, giving the right of religious schools to discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or pregnancy, initially only having protected sexual orientation. As described by the Law Council, parts of the legislation:

privilege[…] manifestation of religious belief over other human rights such as freedom from discrimination on the grounds of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity, race, age – and religion itself.

It provides a defence for potentially harmful or humiliating statements in public arenas such as education or people’s place of employment which may otherwise amount to unlawful discrimination, so long as these statements are in good faith and reflect a person’s religious belief.

While these words are largely about Clause 12 of the Religious Discrimination Bill on ‘statements of belief’ it feels pretty clear to me based on the two cited sections that the bill was to put religious belief above the fair and equitable treatment of queer people, among many other people who may be marginalised by fringe religious conservative and reactionary beliefs.

Victorian Greens senator Janet Rice’s twitter thread on the Religious Discrimination Bill here describes types of discrimination that would be allowable under the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill, even amended.

Janet Rice

Here’s what’s really went down with the Religious Discrimination Bill in the House of Reps last night, and what needs to happen next.

The good news: in the House of Reps, the Greens, crossbench, Labor & 5 moderate Liberals passed protections for LGBTQ+ kids in schools. This was Rebekha Sharkie’s amendment to the Human Rights Legislation Amendment Bill 2021, separate to the Religious Discrimination Bill 2021.
While it’s a relief to have a win for trans kids, this is nowhere near the full story of what happened last night.

Labor voted with the government to help Morrison pass the Religious Discrimination bill - which they didn’t need to do to secure protections for LGBTQ+ kids.
Labor didn’t merely accept the government had the numbers to pass the hateful Religious Discrimination bill.

Labor actively voted with the government to pass it. They voted for more discrimination, not less.
Under the religious discrimination bill that Labor and the Liberals passed, a religious school can fire a teacher for being unmarried and pregnant, for being queer, for getting a divorce.

Here’s a few more examples of what this dangerous bill would allow:
1. Under ‘statements of belief’, a school principal can give a speech about the dangerous influence of LGBTQ+ people. Schools can punish LGBTQ+ students by excluding them from activities or giving them detention for ‘questioning the school’s religious views’.
2. Doctors can refuse to treat trans patients because it goes against their religion.

3. A medical, support or aged care worker can tell an HIV positive person that AIDS is a punishment from God
4. A lecturer can refuse to use a student’s pronouns because he believes her ‘gender to be false’.

5. A taxi driver can tell a person with a guide or assistance dog that their dog is unclean and refuse to let them get in the car.
6. An aged care home run by a Christian church can refuse to employ an aged care worker because she is Muslim and wears a hijab.

7. A student with a disability can be told by a teacher that their disability is caused by sin, and is a trial imposed by God
Labor voted in support of harmful discrimination. This is a dangerous bill. It cannot become law.

Labor betrayed voters in the House by helping Morrison.

Labor must now commit to voting it down with the Greens and crossbench in the Senate.

Advocate and activist Alistair Lawrie has highlighted the Albanese government’s refusal to appoint a LGBTQIA+ human rights commissioner and general ignorance of queer issues in employment and discrimination. The article covers a number of issues under the Albanese government, which are worth reading, some partially featured in this write up.

On the other hand, the second half of 2022 saw some disappointing losses. This includes the decision by the Government to reject Greens amendments, supported by the cross-bench, to create an LGBTIQA+ Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission. Even if the Government believed the Bill being amended at the time (which related to the method of appointment for Commissioners) was the wrong vehicle for these amendments (which is the excuse they used), they have still not committed to introducing their own legislation to establish this stand-alone independent national voice on LGBTIQA+ rights which, based on recent events, is more needed than ever.

Alistair Lawrie, ‘Albanese Government Must Do Better, and Do More, on LGBTIQ Rights in Second Year
Article in The Monthly

...But [Anthony Albanese] is also wary of what he considers the illiberalism of the left, and the purity tests and cancel culture it has spawned. "I think it can be alienating. The idea that someone is sexist if they don't use a term 'she/her' is, I think, just not a reasonable thing to do ... People can use whatever title they themselves want. But they shouldn't seek to impose that."
Anthony Albanese comes out swinging for… deliberate misgendering.

In Albanese’s profile for The Monthly, The Repair Man: Anthony Albanese and the task at hand [archive], Anthony Albanese seems to explicitly condone deliberate misgendering, calling it an imposition to expect respect someone’s transgender identity. We, generally as a society, do not have big debates about masculinising cis women. To rephrase, Anthony Albanese thinks bigotry is a reasonable position that is worthy of respect.

Typically, conservatives rail against “woke” culture because they do not want to be held accountable for their bigotries, it really is a red flag, and certainly explains the following behaviour.

Newspaper infographic featuring a picture of Anthony Albanese along with some rapid fire questions. The highlighted question is "Can men have babies?" Anthiony Albanese replies no.
No woking class hero! Also a bleeding landlord! Sure hope he can put that aside to help renters! (spoiler: he didn’t)

In the run up to the election, Anthony Albanese, in an effort to do the opposite of differentiating himself from the Liberal-National coalition, shored up his conservative credentials by dying on the hill, metaphorically, of denying the existence of trans men, who indeed can still give birth and be fathers, as if it doesn’t drive a media frenzy every time it happens. Albanese also did an interview with Chris Uhlmann, a journalist who managed to get gender neutral toilet signs removed from parliament house with a public tantrum that queer people were shown mild respect.

Anthony Albanese calls for respect, while also repeating the right wing cancel culture canard

Here Albanese again moves to some blathering about respect, before acting like aggrieved minorities do not have a reason to call for accountability from bigots with social or political power. What’s respectful with getting away with bigotry, Albo? Uhlmann then goes on to trash gender neutral pregnancy language, and openly transphobic statements that, again, “men can’t have babies”, to Albo’s strong support with a repeated “of course you should [be able to make those statements without being held accountable]”. Albanese then goes on, despite literally sitting before two statements offered purely out of bigotry towards trans people, to state Australians are respectful and that he needs to govern for all Australia, I guess that includes bigots.

Since his election, Albanese has been relatively quiet on queer issues, having attained power, despite his unwillingness to actually wield it. As per the culling from the National Platform, the only money allocated in this years budget to queer issues was funding for HIV mitigation and a 10-year LGBTIQ+ action plan, which means effectively nothing for trans people for the time being as our needs are again put on the backburner, while we know what we need right now: easier pathways for medical and legal transition, including surgery, and protection from discrimination.

In his defence…

Everything above is damning in my view, however, I feel it would be remiss to mention the one good thing Anthony Albanese has done, reported by Paul Karp, explicitly confirming that the Kelly-Jay Keen-Minshull/Posie Parker transphobe rallies held around the country were explicitly anti-trans, and not “women’s rights” as many transphobes, including Paul Barry of Media Watch, are happy to conflate.

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, has condemned the presence of people doing Nazi salutes at the anti-trans rally in Melbourne on Saturday.

Albanese told Nova 100 Radio:

People should be able to disagree without having really hostile, nasty relations. In Melbourne on the weekend we saw an anti-trans rally, which is really disrespectful of who people are, and then it was joined by a bunch of people who were essentially doing Nazi salutes and slogans ... That of course should be condemned by all Australians.

There is no place in Australia for Nazi salutes, and people basically paying tribute to Nazis, who were responsible for the Holocaust. I sometimes think that politics needs to be civil and we need to learn from history. That’s why I condemn the actions there.

[I don’t know] why people would attend an anti-trans rally in order to promote division – we saw from the whole Pride festival in Sydney, I think Sydney was enriched by that, it was celebrating diversity in Australia. That’s a good thing.
Of course he still can’t recognise that they are an organised neo-nazi organisation.

What are you going to do now, Anthony?

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