Monday, October 8, 2012

Exclusive - ACL calls Warren Entsch's "LGBT Study Tour" offer a "Hyperbole"

Jim Wallace - Managing Director of ACL - Courtesy of ABC News 24
A couple of weeks ago, I conducted an interview with The Honourable Member for Leichardt in the Australian House of Representatives, Warren Entsch. As many of you would know, Warren is the Chief Opposition Whip for the Coalition, while he is also one of the most ardent supporters of Same Sex and Gender Diverse rights in the current federal parliament.

During that interview, Warren stated that he'd like to take Jim Wallace of the Australian Christian Lobby on a Same Sex and Gender Diverse study tour throughout Mr Wallace's local area. Such a study tour would include a trip to the local cemetery where a roll-call of suicide victims due to homophobic and transphobic comments and actions would be read out, followed by meetings with the families of the suicide victims in question as well as a group of devoted long-term same sex couples. Needless to say, it was a genuine and sincere offer that Warren made.

Recently I approached the Australian Christian Lobby, in order to ask what Mr Wallace's response to this particular offer was. After being unable to reach any members of the ACL Executive and their staff for comment over the past few weeks, I finally succeeded in reaching one of Mr Wallace's Press Secretaries, a Mr Ben Williams, at about 3pm this afternoon. For the record, I informed Mr Williams of both my preferred and legal names at this time.  After describing Warren's offer in detail to Mr Williams, I was immediately told over the phone on the record that he was certain that Mr Wallace was “Unlikely to respond to such hyperbole”.

Now if you break out a dictionary, you will see that “Hyperbole” is essentially another word for “exaggeration”. Given the thoughtfulness in his voice, the sincerity in his eye and his track record in regards to Same Sex and Gender Diverse rights however, this offer was no meagre act of exaggeration on Warren Entsch's part, as implied by the Australian Christian Lobby.

Now while I'm not surprised by the response from the Australian Christian Lobby over this issue, one must question their intentions and values if they aren't willing to take a simple, honest and honourable offer like the one made by the Chief Opposition Whip at face value. Given that Mr Wallace has recently stated in public that “there needs to be an open and honest debate” in regards to Mariage Equality and other Same-Sex and Gender Diverse rights, you've got to wonder why the executives of the Australian Christian Lobby are refusing to engage in one of the few activities that might give their position on minority issues credibility amongst the religious and non-religious public.

If Mr Wallace and the other executive members of the Australian Christian Lobby who share his opinions on Same-Sex and Gender Diverse rights are as certain of their values and the accuracy of their ideas as they claim, then they should have nothing to fear by testing them in a real life situation. If they aren't willing to do so, one must also question their claims about not being homophobic and transphobic with their comments and actions as well.

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