opinion

'The religious discrimination bill has been shelved. But the damage has already been done.'

Warning: The following contains mentions of suicide and may be triggering for some readers. 

This week, our government made it very clear how they feel about the Trans community; namely, our darling Prime Minister. (That’s sarcasm in my voice in case you’re wondering.)

However let’s backtrack for a moment shall we? Last week, the internet and subsequently, Australia, got into a frenzy over a Christian school in Brisbane asking parents to sign a contract before the start of the school year. The contract, in a nutshell, was a queerphobic, seemingly archaic set of ‘morals and values’ that the school operate by. Any student who exists beyond said morals, was not welcome and could face expulsion. The ‘values’ lumped homosexuality and bisexuality alongside pedophilia and beastiality. It also noted that the school only recognises ‘the two genders’ and will only refer to students by the sex that was assigned to them at birth. Making it very clear that trans kids are not welcome.

Watch: The difference between gay Deni and trans Deni. Post continues after video.


Video via Deni Todorovic

The contract was leaked and thanks to the widespread social media work done by Christian Hull, former queer students and parents of queer students alike, the contracts narrative towards its LGBTQIA+ students was amended and the schools' principal ‘stepped down’. Earlier this week however, another Christian school, this time in Sydney, was revealed to have the same policy. 

What this moment sparked was the realisation that only a week later this type of discrimination could be passed as legal, under the religious discrimination bill Scott Morrison promised to make law. A bill that would allow the very open legal discrimination of queer people nationally, all in the name of ‘religious freedom’. This bill in action would allow schools, hospitals and other institutions of this nature, the freedom to discriminate openly against the LGBTQIA+ community. 

Wanna be an openly queer kid at a Christian school? Sorry you’re not welcome. Need a kidney transplant at your family’s Catholic hospital? Your treatment could be denied.

Alas, this week, after much social media uproar, news debates and even protests, ScoMo declared that the amended bill would protect gay students in religious schools but before you rejoice - not trans students. Whether or not this bill will in fact come to fruition remains to be seen, however, let me shed some light on how this has made trans Australians feel and more broadly, the Queer community as a whole. 

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The timing of this feels especially relevant, in that this weekend marks the 40th anniversary since homosexuality was decriminalised in Victoria. As a gay/trans Victorian, imagine my immense heartbreak to witness quite literally, ‘the clock’ be turned back four decades. The plight, the protest and the progress made as a result of the work put in by the elders of my community, long before I was even born. In what ‘fair country’ does its leader wind back the hands of time and usher a community of people back into the dark closets that once stifled them? 

Archaic is a word that comes to mind.

This week has been triggering. It’s been exhausting. It’s been heartbreaking. 

I’d ask our PM and the members of parliament to consider these very real statistics that penetrate the Queer community in this country - sadly not the fun kind. 

As of last year, in Australia, gay young people aged 16-27 are more than five times more likely to attempt suicide. Intersex youth more than six times and trans youth more than 15 times more likely, to attempt suicide. 

More. Than. Fifteen. Times.

Among BIPOC members of these communities, the stats will increase. 

Let that sink in.

Whether or not this bill sees the light of day is frankly irrelevant. Because in one fell swoop our leader - the person all Australians are supposed to look towards for leadership, told us he doesn't care about the lives of transgender humans. In a speech to parliament he went as far as to say that there was a time and a place to consider the trans community and that time was not now.

You, Scott Morrison, with your archaic mindset, words and actions, deem trans peoples' lives to be of less value to yours, and in this moment you will further perpetuate the aforementioned statistics.

Is that the legacy you wish to leave? 

Is that what you want your grandchildren to read about some day? How their grandfather was the leader of this country and encouraged discrimination, publicly, vocally and with pride even. All in the name of ‘God’. 

Perhaps ask Jenny over dinner tonight.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner. If you're based in Australia, 24-hour support is available through Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.

If you need to talk to someone, Australia-wide anonymous and free LGBTI peer support is available via Qlife. Call 1800 184 527 or webchat 3pm-12am AEST.

Feature image: Deni Todorovic/@marthaa__k/Getty/Sam Mooy.