There’s nothing more ecumenical than the gay panic, is there?
I say “gay” because it scrolls better than the LGBTIQ+ panic, but it’s the whole picnic of questions of gender and sexuality that agitate our religions so much that they are constantly at the center of insoluble social controversies.
This week we have two hot topics: the Muslim soccer player who opted out of the AFLW pride round due to her religion’s stance on LGBTIQ+ people, and school Brisbane Christian which asks parents to sign a registration agreement confirming that “homosexual acts” are immoral and “offensive to God”, and which acknowledges that their children will be deported if they refuse to identify with their “gender organic “.
The soccer player is Haneen Zreika, a poster boy for diversity as the AFLW’s first Muslim woman and a strong advocate for inclusion. Her statements did not specify why she refused to wear a swimsuit with a rainbow on it, but it seems clear that she was unable to reconcile this with Islam’s restrictions on clothing. homosexuality (it is an abomination). It’s also clear that she found the conflict very difficult to reconcile and did her best to achieve this with minimal harm to anyone.
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The school – Citipointe Christian College, a Pentecostal operation – was a bit more vocal. The “declaration of faith” in his enrollment contract comes directly from the church’s constitution. It lists homosexual acts as well as adultery, bestiality, incest, and pedophilia as “sinful and offensive to God” practices, and states that “God created human beings as either male or female”.
These are standard tenets of most Christian, Muslim and Jewish religious sects, with broad biblical/Quranic support. Within mainstream religions, these are not controversial beliefs.
It is no coincidence that we see more frequent bold expressions of the most problematic aspects of these principles. They reflect the point of collision between two irreconcilable perspectives: the right to be, and to be accepted without discrimination as, whatever gender (or non-gender) and sexuality you are or identify with. ; the right to believe that gender and sexuality are fixed at birth and that any deviation from this is a one-way ticket to hell.
Rather than discussing which of these positions is correct, we must consider which should take precedence over the other. This is the only way for a society and its laws to navigate such puzzles.
Zreika asserted the right to refuse her work to her employer on the grounds that she was not acting contrary to her faith. If her club or the AFLW tried to sanction her for this, she would say it was discriminatory and wrong.
Citipointe also only affirms its convictions, seeking to promote and protect them by ensuring that its students (and their parents) adhere to them fully. At a suggestion that he shouldn’t, he would claim protection of religious freedom and point out that no one is forced to attend his school.
For LGBTIQ+ players at Zreika’s club and AFLW, and the LGBTIQ+ community more broadly, Zreika’s act can only be read as a statement of his belief that their truth is false. It’s quite confronting, especially since Zreika tried hard to avoid any collateral damage.
For all the LGBTIQ+ kids in Citipointe, there is a more direct and hurtful message.
This all reminds me of Sally Rugg on Questions and answers in 2019 on a panel that politely discussed whether she, a lesbian, would go to hell: “As if those words mean nothing and they don’t do anything.” Of course they do. They hurt.
So I think, well, wouldn’t it be nice if people didn’t continue to tell LGBTIQ+ people, through words or actions, that they’re doomed, or non-existent, or both? Especially when one person’s gender or sexuality has absolutely no consequences for anyone else?
But this world does not exist; the Bible and the Koran say what they say, immutably, and people of religion will continue to believe that the world is binary and right. And they will continue to insist on their right to affirm and act on that belief, regardless of the consequences to others.
Society is not ready to condemn religious beliefs regarding LGBTIQ+ people, as we have previously condemned the religious practice of female genital mutilation or the religious practice of burning witches. This form of bigotry is not considered harmful enough for that.
Which means LGBTIQ+ people are bound to keep carrying the slingshots and arrows that keep coming at them. We see no alternative, or rather we cannot face it.
This is where our society’s priority lies: with religious belief above LGBTIQ+ dignity. It’s a choice.
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