Friday, July 29, 2005

Not Great News

I don't mean to be a negative Narrelle or anything, but seriously, the results of the Australia Insistute's survey into homophobia are not encouraging.

While I appreciate the efforts of the G&L Rights Lobby, as well as my own SX editor, to put a positive spin on the results, it's hard to avoid the reality that, of a survey of nearly 25,000 Australians, which you could safely assume is a big enough sample to be truly representative of the Australian population as a whole, one-third believe homosexuality is "immoral". Nearly half of New South Welshmen believe homosexuality is immoral. At least 30% of the individual state populations, men and women combined, believe homosexuality is "immoral". I think I could actually hear the collective ejaculations of the AFA, Family First, Christian Democrats etc when these figures were first released. A vindication? I'm sure they're of no doubt.

As Gary Fishlock rightly points out, the word immoral is very loaded, although my understanding of the AI is that it's not a particularly right-wing think-tank (in fact I've always assumed they were a little lefty) so I don't think they had an agenda to discredit homosexuality and queer law reform through this survey, even though it will now be an undeniably effective weapon for all our community's enemies.

I don't know what I expected. Maybe I thought by now, with nearly 40 years of visible homosexual activism, the figure would be closer to 20%. It's encouraging to see this is closer to the mark for 18-24 year-olds, but then almost half of teenage boys aren't fans of ours, so whether or not we'll have this pleasant, rosy once the over 50s and their bad attitudes have died off future is speculative, especially when we have a new generation of neo-con babies that make Reagan look like Trotsky.

What I wonder is how many of these 8,000 or so folk who believe homosexuality is immoral actually have some kind of close relationship with a queer person? Are they saying to that person's face they have no problem with them, but then sitting in quiet judgment of their "immoral" lifestyle and willing to admit to this only in an anonymous survey? And if so, do they also harbour secret contempt for their immoral friends, family members, neighbours, butchers etc, or does this manifest in pity and fear for the health and well-being of their poor, unfortunate acquaintances who have to live this sad, godless lifestyle? It's a distinction I believe is worth noting since, as I have seen first-hand, people can assume an all-encompassing "lifestyle" (for want of a better word) or community is immoral, but not necessarily all its participants. Or as the good Jesus folk say, hate the sin, not the sinner. It's hypocritical bullshit but a common way to reconcile one's own prejudices when confronted so directly, and it's a distinction that wouldn't be recognisable in this sort of survey.

There's all sorts of respondent breakdowns in the survey - check it out - but it's too simplistic to say it's the men, or the outer suburbanites, or the less educated, or the socio-disadvantaged who are the most homophobic. The survey clearly indicates too many tertiary-educated, inner-city latte folk also share these views. Perhaps the main difference is that the former are more honest about it. I would say as an example, however, that, in Sydney, it's no coincidence the gay Metropolitan Community Church is based in inner-city Petersham while Hillsong sings for JC in Baulkham Hills, way out north-west. Without generalising too much, suburbanism is definitely not a friend to the gay man and his dyke flatmate. This survey offers no surprises there.

The Catholics as the least homophobic denomination definitely caught me off-guard, however. Even though two of my exes are Catholic and I know George Pell upsets as many Catholics as he does everybody else when he opens his trap, I assumed the indoctrination (read brainwashing) process of the Catholic kidlets at Sunday school would have lead to a much higher percentage of Catholics believing homosexuality is immoral.

Overall I guess this is a survey of surprises, some good but many worrying. It's certainly going to come right to the forefront when the government introduces its same-sex overseas adoption ban and I can already see the smirks crawling across the faces of Albrechtsen, Devine, Akerman, Bolt etc as they take Bic to paper.

Maybe Australians just suck.


At 29/7/05 8:06 pm, Blogger Nic White said...

Yeah, I think Australians probably do suck (in a bad way)

At 1/8/05 4:18 pm, Anonymous zhasper said...

Hillsong has a branch in the inner-city too - in Waterloo, not three blocks from my place.

MCC have other branchse as well, including at least one that's further west than petersham, I'm sure..

At 1/8/05 7:41 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mother Nature has a way of getting rid of her mistakes but after thousands of years, the homo-amourists (well I'm removing the sex so no-one can focus on it) are still thriving so you're obviously meant to be here. Hopefully the religious neanderthal branch of humanity will mutate its way out of existance. JT

At 2/8/05 9:15 am, Blogger Sam said...

Good point Z. Guess I should have said that Hillsong (I think) mutated from the 'burbs. MCC has a couple of rural centres too although I think all their city churches are inner rather than outer metropolitan.

JT: homoamourists - love it :-) Sounds so Blanche DuBois-ish.

At 2/8/05 3:07 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sam, I can't imagine you ever having to rely on the kindness of strangers. JT

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