Politics Opinion

Morrison's Religious Discrimination Bill is a huge step back

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Scott Morrison's Religious Discrimination Bill is a threat to the rights of the LGBTIQ+ community (Image by Dan Jensen)

Scott Morrison's controversial Religious Discrimination Bill is a huge step backward for human rights, writes Emily Bell.

CALL ME a people pleaser, but I don’t like the thought that people want me to “burn in hell”. I don’t like that there’s an actual conversation going on in Parliament about whether these people should be allowed to spread that belief or not. I really don’t like that the Prime Minister, the person with the most power in the country in which I live, supports them.

I am a lesbian. I’ve been through way too much to go back to hiding or denying who I am. That is one of the reasons we have lost so many. We all go through stages where we fight our feelings. From a young age, my generation as well as those before us have been told that going against the heteronormative, binary society makes us abnormal, different, unworthy.

Imagine being taught this your whole life and then realising that this is what defines you. This is what others will want to use against you. Imagine not being able to come out of the other side of that.

In recent years, we have started to create a more accepting society, to allow space for everyone and to welcome diversity. But now that’s being fundamentally challenged in a way that affects so many young lives.

People should have the freedom to believe in what they want to believe in, whether that is a god, deity, spirit, queen or anything else. Whatever brings you comfort in this life is worth holding on to. However, when these beliefs discriminate against people simply trying to live, people who are not interested in interfering with or harming others, that’s when I have a problem.

Your beliefs do not – and frankly, should not – manifest in hate crimes. Believe I am abnormal if you like, but I know there is nothing more natural than love, even if it’s for someone of the same gender. Personally, I believe in love and I know there is enough of it in this world to reach every single person if we didn’t let ignorance get in our way. I believe in equality and I believe in freedom.

I realise in spite of this, that humans are complex creatures who have built an even more complicated society. One person’s freedom might restrict that of another. To me, it is not a question of whether one way of being is more important than another. It is the difference between people living honest lives full of contentment and people causing harm. Why would you choose harm and hurt over kindness? I don’t want to interfere with your life, so why do you choose to hate how I live mine?

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. When I was sobbing into my pillow earlier today, my Mum said, “don’t let the a****les get to you”. I won’t allow them to make me feel inferior, but they have gotten to me. I am angry and upset, and I’m not going to dim that to make anyone else feel more comfortable.

I am so sick of running and hiding because I’m scared of taking a stand. If not now, then when? If I don’t fight for my right to exist, I barely exist at all.

Since gay marriage was legalised in Australia, I and many others have been living in a bubble of safety and freedom because we have gratefully surrounded ourselves with people who share our views. I have spent too much time flying under the radar in the safety of my bubble. Unfortunately, the world is made of barbed wire and that bubble has officially burst. The thing is, without it distorting the outside world I can see clearly again.

I am sorry I stayed trapped for so long. I am sorry I was blind to everything that we still have to fight for. I promise to never stay quiet again. To all the transexual, intersex, gay, lesbian, queer, questioning, asexual, bisexual people out there, I promise to be loud about my love for you and for our community.

To all the allies, thank you. To anyone reading this, if you believe in love, it’s time. Be loud with us, be forever proud with us and, most importantly, fight with us.

Emily Bell is a freelance writer with a passion for activism, supporting feminist and queer movements.

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