The national broadcaster in Australia runs a Monday night debate called Q&A, question & answer. Tonight, an out lesbian minister in the Australian government Ms Penny Wong was included on the panel. Her opposite in the opposition is jovial Mr Joe Hockey. The last question of the night was asked of him, it went roughly as follows. Mr Hockey, you defended Australian egalitarianism earlier tonight, yet in a speech this week you defended people who criticise same sex unions. When you do this you rubbish people like Senator Penny Wong [who last year announced that her marriage partner was about to give birth]. Mr Hockey’s reply was wobbly in its lack of gumption. The presenter then asked Ms Penny Wong what she thought. She replied that she was reluctant to respond. But her eyes narrowed and she cast quick sidelong looks in Hockey’s direction. She then continued: When you say that a child can only best be raised by a man and a woman you are telling people in same sex unions that what is most important to them, the people they love, are just not as good as other people.
I’m sorry, my eyes were narrowing too and I was casting censorious looks in various directions. So my recall may not be exact. But the key message is there, and it needs to be repeated. We, gay/lesbian/ trans& inter gender communities may not constitute an ethnicity, but when people talk about us in this way they seek to denigrate us the same way that a racist or hate-crime message would belittle ethnic groups. The message says that some people can be characterised as inferior to others. We have to strenuously rebut this corrosive, non-democratic viewpoint.
The presenter asked Penny Wong did the comment hurt; she replied: “Of course it did.”