The GLORIAs 2015

The GLORIAs – the Gay or Lesbian Outrageous, Ridiculous or Ignorant (Comment) Awards – were held again at NSW Parliament House on Tuesday 10 November 2015.

Organised by Penny Sharpe MLC, hosted by David Marr, and with entertainment provided by Barbra Blacksheep, the event is an annual opportunity to highlight the ongoing serious issue of homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and intersexphobia by making fun of what are, frankly, some of the most stupid and downright offensive things said in public life over the past year or so.

There are five main categories, with the overall ‘winner’ of the Golden GLORIA decided by a ‘boo-off’. Here are the nominees and winners of this year awards:

The most OUTRAGEOUS, RIDICULOUS or IGNORANT comment from the INTERNATIONAL category:

  • Kentucky county court clerk Kim Davis, who has refused to issue marriage licences to same-sex couples
  • Anti-gay radio host Bryan Fisher who compared a clerk who refuses to issue marriage licences to same-sex couples to a ‘clerk at Auschwitz’ who refused to murder Jews
  • Ghanaian presidential hopeful George Boateng, who declared: “There is too much indiscipline in Ghana, under my presidency when a corrupt person, gay or lesbian are arrested the law will make it possible for the courts to sentence the offender to death by firing squad”
  • Ed Straker, senior writer of com, the conservative news site, writing about the ‘Rainbow Doritos’: “Doritos are a product marketed to children, so they make the perfect gateway snack to introduce children to the joys of homosexuality”
  • Texas Governor Rick Perry: “I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that – and I look at the homosexual issue the same way”
  • Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy criticised his country’s same-sex marriage law saying he “detested” the way he feels his successor, Francois Hollande, and his Socialist government “forced” the same-sex marriage bill into law in 2013. The thrice-married Sarkozy said he feels the statute is “humiliating families and humiliating people who love the family”
  • Islamic State militants have reportedly murdered two more men for the ‘crime’ of being gay in an unnamed town in Iraq’s Nineveh province
  • Rapper Azealia Banks tweeted that the “LGBT community (GGGG) are like the gay white KKK’s. Get them some pink hoods and unicorns and let them rally down rodeo drive”
  • Kazakh Party Leader Bolashak: “I think it is very easy to identify a gay person by his or her DNA. A blood test can show the presence of degeneratism in a person”

And the winner was: Kim Davis. A well-deserved honour for someone who misguidedly thinks she is a martyr simply for refusing to do the straight-forward job of treating people equally.

MEDIA

  • The Daily Telegraph for the front page “Gay Class Uproar – Parents outraged as Sydney school swaps lessons for PC movie session”
  • Germaine Greer for her views on trans* women: “I didn’t know there was such a thing [as transphobia]. Arachnophobia yes. Transphobia, no.” “It seems to me that what was going on there was that [Caitlyn Jenner] he/she wanted the limelight that the other, female, members of the family were enjoying and has conquered it, just like that” … “Just because you lop off your dick and then wear a dress doesn’t make you a fucking woman. I’ve asked my doctor to give me long ears and liver spots and I’m going to wear a brown coat but that doesn’t turn me into a fucking cocker spaniel… A man who gets his dick cut chopped off is actually inflicting an extraordinary act of violence on himself.”
  • Piers Akerman for telling a kid with two mums she is not normal: “Statistically, you are not in a ‘normal’ family, no matter how many LGBTIQ-friendly docos you may be forced to watch by politically-driven school principals”
  • Andrew Bolt: “Truth is that marriage – the institution, tradition and ceremony – are indeed all public matters. Marriage is a social, not private, construct to bind men to women for the sake of their children, so that the next generations are properly socialised to the benefit of all”
  • Keith Wheeler, writing in the Wagga Daily Advertiser: [the ‘No’ campaign in a marriage equality plebiscite should] “remind Australians that gay marriage would be encouraging homosexuality… AIDS and HIV are at a 20 year high. Perhaps the ‘grim reaper’ advertisements need revival as a reminder of the consequences of homosexual sex. … Australians should consider the plight of adopted children and those needing foster care, being sent to a homosexual home. Changes to marriage laws will change Australian society forever.”
  • Melbourne GP, Dr Jereth Kok who wrote in a piece titled “A medical perspective on transgender”, that Christians should have empathy for these “broken people” but must understand that sex reassignment therapy is a “sophisticated and cruel myth”
  • Miranda Devine for her blog that only just missed out on the nominations for last year’s GLORIAs ‘But woe betide the player who “offends the gods of homosexuality… Let’s get one thing straight. ‘Gay’ no longer just means ‘homosexual’. The word has changed meaning over the last decade. Young people use ‘gay’ to mean lame, or dumb or stupid, as in: “That’s so gay…” So why is anyone pretending that what Mitchell said had anything to do with homosexuality? It didn’t”
  • Des Houghton writing in the Courier Mail: “Even people who like me who don’t go to church should be appalled that the gay lobby seeks to trample on their rights and customs in the name of equality. The media luvvies see gay marriage is another trendy fad like chai latte with yak milk and Lycra bike shorts. I’m tired of being lectured by people like Penny Wong who insist we must all roll over and toe the gay line in the name of equality. She and her followers demand we must agree that homosexuality is a good thing, and that it would be a good thing for homosexual couples to raise other people’s children. Enough already”
  • Piers Akerman (again): “I for one, am heartily sick of the constant pro-gay marriage propaganda from the homosexual lobby and its media mouthpieces at the ABC and Fairfax. They have gone a long way toward destroying the natural family relationship of a husband and wife and a child or children… It is plain wrong to make the claim that redefining marriage to include consenting partners of the same sex is a mere bagatelle. It is not. It is a gravity-defying act”

Amid such fierce competition, the winner was perhaps always going to be Germaine Greer.

POLITICS/LAW

  • Senator Eric Abetz for allegedly telling the Liberal Party room: “Lots of homosexuals don’t want to get married, Dolce & Gabbana never got married.”
  • NSW Premier Mike Baird for saying he did not believe the film [Gayby Baby] belonged in the classroom: “I think tolerance is a good thing. But I think there should be some parameters around it.”
  • A tweet by North Queensland federal MP George Christensen that linked US gun laws to the legislation of same-sex marriage: “I’m wondering how many people who look to USA and say we should follow them on “gay marriage” because they’re America the Great would want us to follow their lead on the right to bear arms?”
  • Fred Nile: “The homosexual movement is aggressively aiming to normalise their agenda, lifestyle and ideologies into our society. I urge the Government to do the right thing by the majority of parents who do not want their children exposed [to] the queer and homosexual ideologies. This issue has inevitable detriments and consequences.”
  • Fred Nile (again) for a speech in the NSW Parliament about the Safe Schools Coalition: “The material encourages a mindset of sexual exploration as if the very process of exploration were without risk, and is unashamedly driven by an agenda to promote homosexuality amongst children… So many Australians are disgusted at the sickening agenda behind the Safe Schools program. The program is absolutely abhorrent and disgusting in that it would normalise anal sex, oral sex, chest binding and homosexual sex.”
  • Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce for warning us that Asia could see Australia as “decadent” if same-sex marriage is legalised, potentially damaging negotiations and out trading relationship in the region.”
  • NSW Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli for issuing a ministerial memorandum to the State’s Principals ordering that: “Gayby Baby must not be shown in school time so that it does not impact on the delivery of the planned lessons.”

A surprising result in this category, with NSW Premier Mike Baird winning (personally, I thought the second of Fred Nile’s quotes, attacking the Safe Schools Coalition, was far more offensive).

RELIGION

  • Nick Jensen and Sarah Jensen for preparing to divorce in protest against any change to the law to accommodate same-sex marriage: “My wife and I, as a matter of conscience, refuse to recognise the government regulation of marriage if its definition includes the solemnisation of same-ex couples.”
  • Rev Mark Powell, writing in Fred Nile’s newsletter: “What we are seeing is nothing less than the attempted ‘institutional grooming’ of an entire generation of young Australians. Right under our noses boys and girls are being sexualised as part of their State-funded education.”
  • Rev Robby Galatay, a conservative Tennessee pastor who implied that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people must remain celibate or should be put to death: “God said that the sins of the people had infected the very land in which they live. So what happens to people who engage in this activity, this sexual immoral activity? Go to Leviticus 20, God gives us the punishment for engaging in these sins… They must be put to death. And their blood is on their own hands.”
  • Russian Orthodox Priest Alexander Shumsky who claimed that football players are promoting a “gay rainbow” by wearing green, pink, yellow and blue shoes. He said: “Wearing pink or blue shoes, [the players] might as well women’s panties or a bra. The liberal ideology of globalism clearly wants to oppose Christianity with football. I’m sure of it. Therefore I am glad that the Russian players have failed and, by the grace of God, no longer participate in this homosexual abomination.”
  • Foundation Christian College Principal Andrew Newhouse for telling the father of a seven-year-old girl she would not have been welcome had it known her parents were gay: “The board also has a strong view that families with same-sex parents do not support a Christian world view… I mentioned to the parent that if his daughter was to continue this topic of discussion with his peers, then it would be in both his and his daughter’s interests to move to a school that would support his world view.”
  • Lyle Shelton and the Australian Christian Lobby for its campaign against the Safe Schools Coalition. “Dressed up as an anti-bullying program, it encourages children to cross-dress at school and demands the school accept this. Children are presented with information that downplays the danger of sexually transmitted diseases and introduced to concepts every thinking parent hopes they won’t Google us. Its ‘seven-ways-to-bind your chest’ advice to girls is one of the most shocking things I’ve ever seen done in the name of a government program.”
  • Australian Marriage Forum’s David van Gend for comparing marriage equality to slavery: “The Supreme Court’s slavery decision was eventually repented of and reversed, just as the homosexual ‘marriage’ decision will have to be repented of and reversed – but after how much social damage is done?”

Another surprising winner in this category, with Sarah and Nick Jensen taking out the honours. And, while their commitment to divorce should other people enjoy the same rights as them is no doubt stupid, I would have much preferred either Lyle Shelton of the Australian Christian Lobby, or Foundation Christian College Principal Andrew Newhouse, to collect the gong.

SPORT

  • Jacques Potgeiter for using the word ‘faggot’ multiple times during the Super Rugby Clash against the Brumbies.
  • AFL commentator Brian Taylor who said of Geelong player Harry Taylor “I don’t know whether you guys down there can hear me or not. I am up here getting ready for the game and I’ve just seen that crap from Harry – he’s a big poofter, I mean give them this one Harry” during a pre-game broadcast of Channel 7’s Saturday Night Footy show.
  • Sam Newman for saying that Michael Sam’s draft kiss was an “annoyingly gratuitous act”, and that “no heterosexuals do that when they are drafted.”

A clear winner in this category: Sam Newman – who can surely now tick off homophobia as part of the lifelong game of ‘bigot bingo’ he appears to be playing.

GOLDEN GLORIA

The ‘boo-off’, from the above five winners, came down to two clear crowd favourites. And, despite the vocal jeers from people in the room who wanted to see Mr Baird win (possibly from the same people who wanted to see him lose at the State election last March), the winner, with an exceptionally loud, and sustained, boo, was Germaine ‘Gloria’ Greer.

It must be said that no-one in the history of the GLORIAs has ever campaigned so long and so hard to win the top honour, with Ms Greer making repeated, unjustified and downright malicious attacks on the trans community throughout the eligibility period of 2014 and 2015.

Now it is on to 2016 and, while we are always hopefuly there will be fewer homophobic, biphobic, transphobic and intersexphobic comments across society, sadly the fact that there is likely to be a marriage equality plebiscite sometime in the next two years guarantees there will be no shortage of outrageous, ridiculous and ignorant commentary in the months ahead.

Germaine 'Gloria' Greer

Germaine ‘Gloria’ Greer

Germaine Greer, ABC’s #QandA & Transphobia

Updated 22 April 2017:

ABC’s #QandA producers have done it again, inviting notorious transphobe Germaine Greer to appear – yet again – on next Monday night’s episode.

In fact, Ms Greer’s appearance will be, at least, the third since the below post was written about the International Women’s Day episode in March 2015 (with other appearances in April 2016 and September 2016).

The frequent promotion by our national broadcaster of someone whose repugnant views about transgender people should be ignored rather than indulged is galling.

Importantly, Greer has already been given – and used – the opportunity of appearing on #QandA to ‘clarify’ her views on gender identity, but chose instead to continue her attacks on transgender people.

On the 11 April 2016 episode, Ms Greer deliberately mis-gendered Caitlyn Jenner, commenting that:

“I don’t believe that a man who has lived for 40 years as a man and had children with a woman and enjoyed the services, the unpaid services of a wife, which most women will never know, that he then decides that the whole time he’s been a woman, and at that point I’d like to say, “Hang on a minute, “you believed you were a woman, but you married another woman. “That wasn’t fair, was it?””

Here’s a hint Germaine – because you seem to be a bit slow on the uptake – Caitlyn Jenner is a woman, whether you like it or not (and it certainly appears to be the latter).

She even returned to the subject, later in the conversation, to take on a hypothetical middle-aged trans person, saying:

“If you’re a 50-year-old- truck driver who’s had four children with a wife and you decide that the whole time you’ve been a woman, I think you’re probably wrong.”

Imagine, for a second, that statement being made about another social group, say Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, or Jewish people, or Muslim people – that, despite what you say you are, despite your fundamental identity, I will assert that your identity is incorrect. In effect, I will tell you that the person you say you are doesn’t exist.

This erasure wouldn’t be accepted – and it shouldn’t be accepted in relation to transgender and non-binary gender diverse people, either.

It’s time for Ms Greer to be taken off the speed dial list for ABC’s #QandA producers, and for her to be replaced by a feminist who is capable of accepting life in the 21st century. There is absolutely no shortage from which to choose.

**********

Original Post 8 March 2015 (previous title: My Question to Tony Jones, Annabelle Crabb, #QandA Producers, Mark Scott & The ABC):

On Monday March 9th 2015, the ABC’s Q&A program will hold its first ever all-female show, to align with International Women’s Day (which is today, Sunday March 8).

There have actually been Q&A’s with all-female guests before – although they still featured Tony Jones as host, whereas tomorrow night Annabel Crabb will be moderating the conversation.

This is of course a welcome development, especially given the ongoing under-representation of women in political life in Australia, nowhere more than around the federal Cabinet table (with one of the two women currently in Cabinet, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, also a guest tomorrow night).

It’s just such a shame that it is undermined by the inclusion of Germaine Greer as a panellist.

Don’t get me wrong, Ms Greer was one of the most influential Australians of the 20th century, and her academic and public work on feminism, and improving the situation of women around the world, should be, indeed must be, respected.

Unfortunately, her views on gender identity, and in particular surrounding issues of transgender identity, have steadfastly refused to enter the 21st century. She has been, and remains, a vocal and unapologetic transphobe.

And it is this transphobia which, I believe, makes her an unsuitable guest for Q&A. It is my firm view that the ABC more generally, and Q&A specifically, should not be giving a platform to someone whose opinions are so abhorrent.

Now, that might seem like an extreme statement. Until you recognise that her comments about transgender people, and trans-women in particular, are far more extreme.

For example, in her 1999 book, The Whole Woman, Ms Greer wrote:

“Governments that consist of very few women have hurried to recognise as women men who believe that they are women and have had themselves castrated to prove it, because they see women not as another sex but as a non-sex.”

“No so-called sex-change has ever begged for a uterus-and-ovaries transplant; if uterus-and-ovaries transplants were made mandatory for wannabe women they would disappear overnight. The insistence that man-made women be accepted as women is the institutional expression of the mistaken conviction that women are defective males.”

Proving that it is possible to learn nothing about a subject in 10 years, Ms Greer wrote the following for The Guardian in 2009:

“Nowadays we are all likely to meet people who think they are women, have women’s names, and feminine clothes and lots of eyeshadow, who seem to us to be some kind of ghastly parody, though it isn’t polite to say so. We pretend that all the people passing for female really are. Other delusions may be challenged, but not a man’s delusion that he is female.”

In 2015, another six years having passed, and yet Ms Greer still doesn’t seem to be any the wiser about transgender issues. Delivering a public lecture at Cambridge University in January, she returned to her discriminatory ways.

According to the Huffington Post, transphobia itself became a target of her speech:

“Women are 51% of the world’s population and [I’ve been told] I’ve got to worry about transphobia… I didn’t know there was such a thing [as transphobia]. Arachnophobia, yes. Transphobia, no.”

Perhaps in an effort to single-handedly demonstrate that transphobia does exist, Ms Greer also repeated her 2009 view that it was a ‘delusion’ to describe the wish of ‘men to become women’, and “suggested that trans women do not know what it is to “have a big, hairy, smelly vagina.””.

And “[s]he further argued that the surgical procedures and medical treatments associated with transitioning are “unethical” because they “remove healthy tissue and create lifelong dependence on medicine.””.

So there we have (at least) three examples, spread across 16 years, of someone who actively belittles and demeans one group within the community simply because of who they are.

Imagine for a second that she (or indeed any potential Q&A guest) made similar comments about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, or Jewish people. That they questioned these groups’ ‘authenticity’, called them ‘delusional’ or ‘ghastly parodies’, at the same time as suggesting that racism, or anti-Semitism, were not in fact all-too-real phenomena.

Would the ABC nevertheless go ahead and book them for this program, effectively providing them with a platform for their bigoted views? I expect (and sincerely hope) that they would not.

Which indicates, or at least strongly implies, that the ABC does not consider transphobia to be as serious an issue as racism, or anti-Semitism, or other forms of discrimination.

What makes the decision to invite Germaine Greer onto the program even worse is that she has already appeared, on multiple occasions (and on one of her previous appearances hardly covered herself in glory, in March 2012 disrespecting then Prime Minister, the Hon Julia Gillard MP, by telling her “Face it Julia, you have a fat arse…”)

Are the producers seriously suggesting that a panel of five guests (plus host Annabel Crabb) could not be filled with intelligent and talented women without having to invite a notorious transphobe back for a repeat performance?

The fact that they have done so is, I believe, a serious failure of judgment.

Of course, writing this as a cisgender gay man I am exposing myself to potential criticism, that somehow I am being anti-feminist (for daring to criticise the ‘right’ of someone like Ms Greer to appear).

But I am comfortable enough to know that a) that’s not true and b) that it is more important to stand up for the rights of all of the members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community.

And it is not as if I am alone in making such criticisms. Author Roxane Gay, who is herself appearing on Monday night’s Q&A, had the following to say in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald:

“I think she’s [Germaine Greer’s] bigoted and full of hate. She doesn’t acknowledge transgender women as women. That’s not acceptable. I honestly don’t know why she’s being included. I think it’s going to be uncomfortable.”

I too don’t know why Germaine Greer is being included on tomorrow night’s show. So, in the long tradition of Q&A, I would like to submit the following question:

My question is to Tony Jones, Annabel Crabb, #QandA Producers, Mark Scott and the ABC: Why do you consider it acceptable to provide a public platform for a transphobe like Germaine Greer? Or, in other words, why do you believe transphobia is less offensive than racism or anti-Semitism?

I would love for them (rather than the other guests) to provide a response to this, although I have to say I am not holding my breath.

Transphobe Germaine Greer

Transphobe Germaine Greer

One final thing. As I noted at the beginning, while this is the first all-female show, it is not the first all-female panel. And there have been other panels looking at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues, and one program looking specifically at HIV (held during AIDS2014 in Melbourne).

Perhaps a future Q&A could be devoted to LGBTI issues. With five guests, that means there could be at least one lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex person each appearing (noting of course individuals can be more than one of these).

Such a show would go some way towards demonstrating that the LGBTI community is about more than just marriage equality, and that there is also an incredible amount of diversity, both in experience and opinions, within our ranks.

There are a large number of opportunities for such a panel during the year, not only during the (just completed) Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, but possibly even later in 2015 to celebrate 40 years of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in South Australia (the first Australian state to do so). So, Q&A, how about it?

Update 22 April 2017: Later in 2015, #QandA producers actually did stage a program focusing on LGBTI issues. Hosted by gay comedian Tom Ballard, it followed a screening of the documentary Between a Frock and a Hard Place, looking back at the success of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

The panel for the ‘#QandGay’ included:

Gay rights activist and author Dennis Altman

Entertainer Paul Capsis

Broadcaster and journalist Julie McCrossin

Christian Democratic Party MP Fred Nile

Transgender woman Julia Doulman and

Student and queer activist Katherine Hudson.

That’s right, not content on including notorious transphobe Germaine Greer on the International Women’s Day episode, #QandA producers apparently believed that a discussion about the progress of LGBTI rights in Australia required the input of notorious homophobe Fred Nile. I guess, based on that logic, the next panel to focus on issues about race will include a neo-Nazi. You know, for balance…