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Brave new post-identity world of no more excuses

By Gary Johns - posted Wednesday, 7 December 2016

In this great nation, women have access to any job they wish, despite many not aspiring to some. Aborigines live wherever they like, despite the complete lack of an economic base in areas some choose. Gays gain access to the life insurance of their partner. Migrants succeed in all walks of life, usually because they learn English.

All manner of impediment has been removed from those who are not straight white males.

Now, after many years of struggle, those of identity face their final challenge: the same challenge faced by straight white males. Luck, brains, personality and effort usually help create a good life but career, relationships and health can all turn sour, regardless of identity.


Remnants of prejudice and the legacy of prejudice remain but, basically, we have entered a post-identity world. Very soon, there will be no more excuses.

One of the reasons resentment has built among the famed "deplorables" is that despite the gains, policies and people remain in place to feed the identity complaint machine. Too much money, too many careers need grievance to maintain programs, the lifestyle of commissioners, community representatives and all the rest of the paraphernalia.

The personal lives and struggles of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, for example, have been transformed. All discriminatory laws have been repealed (marriage as a heterosexual construct is not discriminatory), historical convictions expunged, parenting rights assured, and discrimination protections are in place. The population as a whole is relaxed and indifferent to gays.

Gay and other sexual orientation people struggle with identity because it is so vexed. It is not society's hetero-normative orientation that makes it so. Gays have fought for equality for a long time. And, bravo, they have won. No more to be sent to prison for buggery. But living, that is another matter.

Politics is slow to adjust to this reality. Take Labor's national platform. There are no fewer than 45 substantial references to LGBTI rights such as de-gendering government documents, transgender public toilets, free surgery for sex reassignment, outlawing "cures" for gay people and trashing "non-compliant" religious beliefs. One observer, a Labor parliamentarian, has told me that almost all of the conference references, except for gay marriage, were passed without any discussion or debate. Many of these commitments will work their way into government policy years after they are required. Society will be stuck in an endless battle for no real purpose. For example, the party has vowed to "investigate amending the Human Rights Act to establish a commissioner for sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status issues … within the Australian Human Rights Commission". The belligerent Marxist Roz Ward would surely be a candidate.

The commissioner will have some juicy new laws on which to pontificate because the platform states that "homophobic, biphobic, transphobic and intersexphobic harassment by the written or spoken word causes actual harm, not simple mere offence … Labor will consider whether current anti-discrimination law provides effective sanctions".


Section 18C on steroids.

Also, Labor has vowed to appoint a global human rights ambassador. Gillian Triggs would be a shoo-in. The ambassador and the commissioner, who if he/she or it (non-gender) should feel as though Australian law is not sufficient, can refer to the Jogjakarta Principles on the "application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity, to provide a substantial guide to understanding Australia's human rights obligations". Constitutional recognition anyone?

No workplace will be safe from the gender tsars. "Labor believes that workplaces and communities that support and value diversity … are more productive." I would love to see the modelling on that assertion.

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This article was first published in The Australian.

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About the Author

Gary Johns is a former federal member of Parliament and served as a minister in the Keating Government. Since December 2017 he has been the commissioner of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.

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