Are LGBTQIA+ people being exploited?

Embracing the LGBTQIA+ community is trending. Corporations, governments, organisations and high profile individuals in Australia are embracing or being seen to embrace people from this community. This is a sign of a fairer and more equitable world, but is it also an example of exploitation?

Are LGBTQIA+ people being used by organisations to improve their public image or to distract the public from the organisations failings in other areas?

Why would they do this?

Support for inclusion and diversity is trending. Organisations seen to support the cause can position themselves as responsible corporate or social citizens, especially if they can successfully publicise this support. The organisation is less likely to be labelled unethical, and can also use inclusion and diversity to distract the public from their unethical or questionable practices in other areas – unethical practices which are destructive to society, including the LGBTQIA+ community.

AGL

AGL is an Australian energy company with one claim to fame: it is Australia’s biggest polluter. Australia is one of the world’s biggest polluters. AGL epitomises the exploitation of the LGBTQIA+ community for Public Relations (PR) purposes and distraction.

The AGL website states that:

“In 2014, AGL implemented a LGBTQ+ Inclusion Strategy, and in 2015 we were rated as one of the best performing first-time entrants to the Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI). Our employee-driven LGBTQ+ network, AGL Shine, was created in 2014.

In September 2015, AGL announced our support for marriage equality in Australia. Our position was strongly endorsed by the AGL Board, our senior management, and AGL Shine members.”

What exactly is involved in supporting marriage equality?

Posting a message on the company’s official platforms stating support of marriage equality. Not particularly difficult. AGL made the statement in 2015, when the movement had gained such strong momentum that same-sex marriage was legalised in Australia in 2016. Hardly groundbreaking or brave.

The statement continues:

“In 2020, we were proud to be awarded Gold Employer status for LGBTQ+ inclusion at the AWEI Awards. This is the third year we have been awarded Gold Employer status.”

How hard it is to promote inclusion and diversity?

Including people of diverse backgrounds essentially means treating people fairly.

How much does inclusion and diversity cost?

To have been continually awarded for inclusion, the company must have made some financial investment.

How much does transitioning to renewable energy cost?

In the short term, a lot. In the long term, AGL would apparently make a profit because the global economy is embracing renewable technology. Convincing shareholders to invest in diversity and inclusion seems much easier than convincing them to invest in renewable energy. AGL is a business and bases all of its decisions on profits. Transitioning to clean energy is undoubtedly more expensive in the short term than embracing the LGBTQIA+ community.

Interestingly, while AGL was publicly supporting marriage equality, it made a deliberate decision not to transition to renewable energy. The company had apparently appointed a new boss in 2015, who was tasked with overseeing a move away from fossil fuels to renewable energy. However, pressure from the then Minister for the Environment, Josh Frydenberg, convinced the company to reject clean energy sources and continue burning fossil fuels.

AGL wins considerable social credibility and brand enhancement through its inclusion polices and support for marriage equality, at exactly the same time that it actively rejects a transition to renewable energy.

Coincidence?

AFL

The Australian Football League runs the premier Australian Rules football competition in the country and is well-known for its support of LGBTQIA+ people. It has held a ‘Pride’ round since 2016 to promote inclusion and diversity.

The AFL is more public in its support of this issue than other major sporting codes, and this could be motivated by honest intentions or by its commitment to its women’s competition, AFLW, in which many players are openly gay. Cynics might argue that the governing body is chasing the pink dollar, but that criticism is not constructive.

Interestingly, despite having held a Pride round since 2016, not one male AFL player has come out as gay. Are there any gay AFL players?

The AFL appears sincere in its acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community. However, is the organisation equally sincere in its attempts to tackle racism and misogyny? The AFL also holds an Indigenous round (since 2008) and claims to embrace women, not just those involved in the ALFW.

However, just days before this article was written, a popular AFL player, Taylor Walker, was outed for a racist comment during an Aussie Rules football game, and his public apology was widely criticised as inadequate. This followed revelations earlier in 2021 of widespread racism within the Collingwood Magpies club, one of the nation’s biggest, as well as the brutal racism directed at former player Adam Goodes. The racist attacks on Goodes were so vicious, incessant and damaging that they forced him to quit the sport, and they spurned two documentaries.

Treatment of women within the AFL is also far from ideal. Numerous players have been found guilty of misogyny, harrassment and even assault of women, and this history of toxic masculinity is documented in The Frownlow Medal and The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame.

Thus, the AFL has failed to sufficiently address issues of toxic masculinity and racism, but derives positive publicity from its support of the LGBTQIA+ community.

IOC

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was praised for its decision to allow an Australian female Rugby 7s player to wear headgear with a rainbow coloured design. The rainbow design promoted awareness and acceptance of issues facing the LGBTQIA+ community, and commentators explained that the Australian player was given ‘permission’ by the IOC to wear the protective equipment with that particular design.

According to media reports:

“Chef de Mission of the Australian Olympic Team Ian Chesterman threw his support behind the celebration and Williams for lodging the request.

“It’s wonderful for our athletes to celebrate their identity as well as promote all of our Olympic sports as safe and inclusive,” Mr Chesterman said.

“I’d like to thank the IOC for their support in allowing Sharni to wear the headgear and thank Sharni for sharing her story with us during the games.”

The IOC has been the subject of countless articles and documentaries questioning its ethics and accusing it of bullying and rampant corruption. Furthermore, Olympic athletes are given strict and detailed instructions to refrain from any form of protest or activism on any issue at any time during the games. But, they let a rugby player wear rainbow headgear.

Tiwi Islands Mardi Gras

The Tiwi Islands lie to the north of Darwin and are home to Indigenous Australian communities. In 2017, 30 Tiwi Sistagirls, or transgender women, travelled to Sydney to take part in their first ever Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. The inclusion was hailed as a victory for the Sistagirls and the LGBTQIA+ community in general. The inaugural journey received widespread media coverage and many organisations associated themselves publicly with this event. They could be accused of jumping on the bandwagon (or float).

Some of these organisations, including government departments, are responsible for solving many of the problems which plague remote communities such as those on the Tiwi Islands. These problems include societal decay, low life expectancy, loss of language and culture, drug and alcohol abuse, poor school attendance, violence, incarceration, unemployment, poor literacy and numeracy, and discrimination.

If the mainstream media and organisations celebrate the participation of Tiwi people in Mardi Gras, does it create the impression that life is improving on the Tiwi Islands and for Indigenous Australians in general? Does it distract Australians from the reality of life for Indigenous Australians and the need to do something about it?

Furthermore, how hard is it to get Tiwi Islanders to Mardi Gras? How hard is it to book a few flights and hotel rooms?

How hard is it to effect real change in Indigenous communities? Apparently very difficult. According to Pat Turner, Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks and CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, only two of six Closing The Gap (CTG) targets were on track: early education and Year 12 attainment.

This means that after 12 years since the release of the first CTG report, little or no progress has been made in areas such as child mortality, employment, life expectancy and education.

Once again, it could be said that LGBTQI+ people are being used to distract the public from the failures of various organisations.

Supporting LGBTQIA+ rights is important. It is a question of equality and fairness. It should not be exploited for positive PR by organisations seeking to distract the public from their unethical or incompetent practices in other areas, or to shield the organisation from public criticism.

Image: Vector Stock

Australians declare themselves Nation-Neutral.

Increasing numbers of Australians are identifying as nation-neutral in response to the country’s collective behaviour and its tattered international reputation.

People who identify as nation-neutral are Australian citizens and residents who do not adhere to traditional notions of patriotism or nationalism, not even while athletes are competing in national colours during the Tokyo Olympic Games. Nation-neutral people include citizens living in Australia and those stranded overseas due to the government’s mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nation-neutral people do not refer to themselves as Australian, or any other nationality, and do so for various reasons. The recent lockdowns have caused a surge in nation-neutral identification, as citizens realise the federal government has failed dismally to organise quarantine and the vaccination rollout, but keeps getting voted back into power by a gullible populace.

Self-identification is also the result of Australia’s contribution to and inaction on climate change, including the destruction of native wildlife and the power of the fossil fuel industry. This has ruined Australia’s international reputation and encouraged people to hide their nationality.

Others cite the treatment of Indigenous Australians and the growing racism which is reflected in the exclusive patriotism which is sweeping the nation. People also point to the treatment of refugees, the lack of respect for education and academia and the declining rates of literacy and numeracy. Further reasons include the treatment of women across all sectors of society, the inadequate national internet service, the state of aged care and disability services and the country’s simple economy which relies on mining, agriculture and tourism.

Nation-neutral people are not stateless, nor are they sovereign citizens. A stateless person is described as

‘a person who is not considered as a national by any state under the operation of its law’ whereas nation-neutral people still hold citizenship and are beholden to the laws of the nation. Sovereign citizens, meanwhile, believe that they are not obliged to obey the laws of the country in which they live, and normally refuse to pay tax. In contrast, nation-neutral people are law-abiding citizens who work, pay taxes, raise families and contribute to their local community.

Some nation-neutral people refer to themselves as ‘Global Citizens’, ‘Strained Strayans’, ‘Internationalists’ or ‘Estranged Australians’, while many don’t use any particular label, as long as they are not labelled ‘Australian’.

Critics have slammed people who choose to identify in this way. They have condemned the move as an act of treason and declare:

“It’s Australia, if you don’t like it Fuck Off!”

Critics also labelled nation-neutral identification as another example of politically-correct, woke, cancel culture inspired by inner-city, latte-sipping, left-wing hipsters. At the same time, however, many people are themselves identifying as nation-neutral because they fear Australia is being taken over by politically-correct, woke, cancel culture inspired by inner-city, latte-sipping, left-wing hipsters.

Nation-neutral people are adamant their status is fluid. They say they will identify as Australian when the country fixes the problems that led them to deny their nationality in the first place. They argue that the problems plaguing the nation all have ready-made solutions, which simply need to be implemented.

Spotting a nation-neutral person is not easy, although this may change. Nation-neutral people do not display their status outwardly, but overseas Australians may start putting New Zealand flags on their backpacks just as US backpackers put Canadian flags on their luggage because they are too scared or embarrassed to admit they are American. That said, unless Australia changes its flag and/or becomes a republic, no one will know the difference between the Aussie and Kiwi flags.

The federal government issued a statement via NewsCorp outlets in response to the revelations. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said:

“This is UnAustralian and an act of treason against the nation and Team Australia. Every Aussie should be enormously proud of this nation and what makes it great. We’re all in this together and the only thing that will get us through the challenges of life is patriotism. Anyone who identifies as nation-neutral is a threat to the fabric of our society and they must stop. Just don’t do it.”

The statement also outlined proposed punishments for people identifying as nation-neutral.

“We will imprison them as soon as we send the asylum seekers back to where they came from. We will deport others to various countries who owe us money and have no choice but to accept people into their country who have not been vaccinated. Furthermore, we will immediately strip every nation-neutral person of their passport.”

The final threat is unlikely to have any impact, because most Australians know it will be a long time before they need a passport.

Image: http://www.worldatlas.com

Parliament House prepares for a royal visit.

EXCLUSIVE: Australia’s Parliament House is secretly preparing to host Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei. Leaked documents reveal that the famous sex addict and brother of the Sultan of Brunei will spend a week in the nation’s capital for both business and pleasure.

Prince Pengiran Digadong Sahibul Mal Pengiran Muda Jefri Bolkiah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien was once the country’s finance minister. He will travel by private jet and skip quarantine protocols, before heading straight to an official reception at Parliament House. The exclusive reception is open only to male politicians and staffers, as well as hand-picked female junior staffers and some of Canberra’s best escorts.

The younger brother of the Sultan is renowned for his playboy lifestyle. He famously kept a large harem of up to forty women, including Jillian Lauren, an American women who revealed all in her book Some Girls: My Life in a Harem. He has had five wives and eighteen children. He is just as famous for his luxury yacht named Tits, with tenders named Nipple 1 and Nipple 2. Furthermore, leaked pictures revealed statues the Prince had made of him having sex with his fiance Micha Raines.

This lifestyle cost the Prince billions of dollars, which he was accused of stealing from the Bruneian people. After a lengthy legal battle, he apparently repaid the money to the Brunei government…or to his brother.

Secret correspondence between government officials in parliament house reveal that desks are being sanitised and the prayer room is being deep cleaned in readiness for the Prince. Junior female staffers have been issued with a strict dress code and escort agencies have been advised to make available their most popular ladies. Caterers have also been instructed to ensure that all food is halal.

Organisers of the visit have also attempted to match the decor in the prayer room to the Masjid Jefri Bolkiah, or the Jefri Bolkiah Mosque.

News of the visit is sure to surprise Australians, many of whom have never heard of the Prince, and would have expected a member of the British royal family to be visiting. Sources within parliament conceded, however, that Prince Jefri is more attuned to the daily occurrences and general culture of Australia’s federal parliament.

Image: Aditya Joshi

ANZAC Day is the one day of the year…

ANZAC Day is the one day of the year that many Australians show any genuine respect for Australian history. For the remaining 364 days, many remain ignorant, dismissive, racist, sexist and bigoted. These overtly patriotic Aussies access a deeply-hidden reverence on April 25 and demand that the remainder of the population display an equal amount of pride in the achievements of soldiers and the nation as a whole.

Respect Australian history!

Many Australians implore us all to respect the nation’s history on ANZAC Day during personal conversations, across social media, in the workplace and on the flagpole in front of their house. These same people exhibit very little interest in the stories of women, migrants and Aboriginal people and the part they played in the nation’s history. History for many Australians extends to accounts of WWI and WWII, the Gold Rush, Federation and the Explorers. The figures they credit with building the nation are Diggers (soldiers) farmers, sportspeople and Explorers – almost all of whom are Caucasian and male. All Australians recognise the part these people played in shaping the modern nation, but some realise that women, migrants and Aboriginal people also made a significant contribution to contemporary Australia, and deserve to be remembered.

The respectful mourners cling to the following tried and true phrases about the history of this nation:

Australia has no history

Proud, flag-waving patriots often bemoan the fact that Australia has no history. They perpetuate this idea with reference to the age-old cultures and structures of Europe or Asia and compare these to Australia’s comparative youth. There is one major flaw in this thinking; it completely dismisses the existence of Indigenous Australians, who continue the world’s oldest surviving culture.

It happened long ago, forget about it

When confronted with the truth of colonisation and the forceful dispossession of Indigenous people from their land, many Australians tell Aboriginal people that ‘it happened a long time ago’ and that everyone should ‘let it go’, ‘move on’ or ‘forget about it’. They issue the same response to stories of the Stolen Generation, The Aboriginal Day of Mourning’ and accounts of individual massacres of Aboriginal people across the nation. Interestingly, they refuse to forget about WWI even though that happened ‘a long time ago’.

They defend our way of life

We are told that Australia’s armed forces defend the nation. We are told that our armed services personnel ‘keep us safe’ and ‘protect our way of life’. The last time we were reminded of this our prime minister, Scott Morrison, even forced himself to cry for the cameras. Most of us believe these broad statements, out of patriotism or naivety. We fail to recognise that these statements are often used to justify support of the multi-million dollar defence industry, and to send young people to needless deaths. Armed forces play a part in defending the nation, but so do trade and diplomacy.

Did the ANZACS protect Australia?

ANZAC Day was created to recognise the sacrifices, hardships and deaths of soldiers in WWI, particularly in Gallipoli, Turkey. WWI never directly threatened Australia. Australians lost their lives protecting Great Britain. ANZAC Day also recognises Australia’s contribution to WWII, when we fought again for the British. Our own country was directly threatened in WWII when Japanese submarines entered Sydney harbour and their planes bombed Darwin. It is also argued that the fall of Singapore posed a subsequent threat to Australia, and that Australian soldiers suffered while defending the tiny nation. That said, most Australian armed forces personnel fought for Great Britain in WWII, in battles waged a long way from Australia. Did they protect Australia, or did they protect our relationship with our colonial masters?

Current ANZAC Day commemorations pay tribute to soldiers who have have worn the Australian uniform in any war, but all of these battles have occurred overseas, most often in service of The United States during their wars in Vietnam and the Middle East. The only extended battle that occurred on Australian soil was the battle between the British colonisers and Indigenous Australians, but the ANZAC Day commemorators don’t like to be reminded of this. They cling to another popular phrase associated with the history of the nation: Australia was settled, and not invaded.

Do Australians realise this historical truth, or are they too enamoured with the patriotism of ANZAC Day to accept the subtle and nuanced details of modern history?

The strength and depth of emotion prompted by ANZAC Day could be explained by a question:

What is Australian?

The problematic nature of Australian identity also explains the heightened reverence towards ANZAC Day. April 25 has become a quasi national day and surpassed January 26 in the minds of many Aussies, because Australia Day is problematic.

Many Australians continue to celebrate Australia Day with joy and pride, while Indigenous Australians refer to it as Invasion Day. The day itself raises the difficult question of what it means to be Australian. Is an Australian an Indigenous person? Is an Australian a Caucasian soldier, farmer or athlete, or is an Australian a migrant who could have been born anywhere in the world? Is it all of the above?

For many Australians, this question is too difficult to answer, or even to consider, so they impose their patriotism on ANZAC Day. Some keen observers have tracked the increasing patriotism associated with ANZAC Day, and fear it could overshadow the remembrance of fallen soldiers, for whom the day was created.

Don’t criticise ANZAC Day

ANZAC Day is sacred. ANZAC Day is off limits. Even this article is likely to be met with scorn and criticised as unpatriotic or an insult to fallen soldiers – most likely by the same people who carry bumper stickers reading:

Australia, if you don’t like it, fuck off!

Any questioning of any aspect of ANZAC Day is interpreted as an attack on the memories of fallen soldiers and their surviving families. These reactive, emotional responses exemplify the blind reverence for April 25 among a section of the Australian population, who show little to no interest in nuanced and varied accounts of Australian history for the remainder of the year.

Should we ignore ANZAC Day?

No

Absolutely not.

This article is in no way intended to diminish the sacrifices of individual soldiers, civilians and their families. It is not intended to brush aside the sufferings and horrors of war. It is designed to remind people that historical perspective should be exercised every day of the year, not just when commemorating war. It is also designed to remind all Australians that patriotism is a vital component of ANZAC Day celebrations but it should not overshadow the original purpose of the day; to pay respect to individual soldiers, and to do everything possible to make sure war never happens again.

Image: http://www.abc.net.au