Last week, Nationals MP Andrew Broad gave his thoughts on same-sex relationships. He likened homosexuality to sheep: “I can put the rams in a paddock and they might mount one another, but no lambs will come out.”
Ella Fabry grew up in Mr Broad’s rural electorate, and she had some choice words for the MP….
Dear Mr Broad,
I write to you in relation to your comments in the Sunraysia Daily comparing same-sex couples to rams mounting in a paddock.
First of all, I understand your need to reassert your authority as a “country person” when you’re a Nationals MP. This is probably why you felt the need to draw comparisons between farm animals and human beings in your comments. I would like to remind you however that comparing people in loving relationships to farm animals widely known for their stupidity is hurtful and wrong.
This may come as a shock to you, but your electorate is full of LGBTI people, as well as their family and friends. I know this because I was one of those people up until university. I grew up enjoying all the things that a regular country kid does, I played footy for the Murrabit Football Club, went fishing on the Murray with my Dad, loved visiting my uncle’s farm and chatting to my Grandfather about his woodworking projects. The only problem with this was that I was a girl, and I would spend the first two years of my high school isolated and surrounded by homophobic slurs. I hadn’t even come out yet.
I ‘escaped’ my home town by winning a scholarship to a boarding school and I haven’t looked back since. This should be a success story but it isn’t. I hate the fact that I grew up loving the country but it now causes me so much anxiety to go back. I hate the fact that I’m afraid to hold my beautiful partner’s hand in public when I’m home over Christmas. And I hate the fact that leaders in that region, leaders like yourself are happy to perpetuate the idea that we are no better than animals in the name of political point scoring.
A message for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull about same-sex marriage:
You could be a leader in the community who sticks up for vulnerable kids who feel like there’s no escape from the constant discrimination. You could educate yourself on the disproportionate representation of regional LBGTI people in suicide statistics. You could recognise that the inequality of access to healthcare and education that exists for all regional people extends to your LGBTI constituents and hurts them more acutely. Given your comments, I will assume that you plan to do none of these things.
I will finish by saying that even though I still fear facing discrimination in the Mallee, the area is changing despite your best efforts. For every person like me, there are ten friends and relatives who learn that we are not animals, we are simply people. We are people who deserve recognition of the equal value and dignity in our relationships. My family has lived in the area for generations, and I am proud to say that I have relatives who have embraced my partner into the family without hesitation. My own mother was so influenced by my coming out that she has encouraged the hospital she works at to go for the Rainbow Tick accreditation, the first hospital in the area to do so. They recently had their first ever Pride celebration.
Actions like this are happening all over your electorate, you are just unwilling to open your eyes and see it.
So you may think that your quirky, farm boy comments about rams in the paddock is winning your argument, but you will never be as persuasive as the hurt that one feels when they see a family member unable to marry the person they love. Your comments do nothing but give bigots a licence to shout louder, and though that may hurt us, it won’t help you win.