Australia’s leading gay activist claims that a booklet defending natural marriage by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference clearly breaches an anti-discrimination act. Worse, it exposes “vulnerable children” to “damaging messages”.
Rodney Croome, national director of Australian Marriage Equality, is angry that Catholic schools in the state of Tasmania are distributing “Don’t Mess with Marriage”. Archbishop Julian Porteous plans to give 12,000 Tasmanian Catholic school children copies to pass on to their parents.
Some teachers were horrified at the prospect of Catholic schools distributing Catholic literature, says Mr Croome:
“The Catholic Church has every right to express its views from the pulpit but it is completely inappropriate to enlist young people as the couriers of its prejudice. The booklet says to gay students in Catholic schools that their sexuality is wrong and that their aspiration to marry is a danger to marriage, religion and society.”
And Mr Croome suggested that cooperative teachers might be abusing the students in their charge – which, if true, would obviously cost them their jobs:
“Any principal or teacher who exposes vulnerable children to such damaging messages not only violates their duty of care, but is a danger to students.”
Even in these topsy-turvy times, these words have a Humpty-Dumpty feel to them. Once upon a time Catholic teachers would have been censured for preaching homosexuality. Mr Croome would like to see them sacked for preaching Catholicism.
What perverse iniquities does this booklet contain? Hate-filled denigration of homosexuals? Frenzied calls to violence? Nothing of the sort. The 16-page glossy colour booklet was produced by the Catholic bishops to defend their well-researched view that marriage between a man and a woman is the only real form of marriage.
It does not vilify. On the contrary it states clearly that: “every man, woman and child has great dignity and worth which can never be taken away. This includes those who experience same-sex attraction. They must be treated with respect, sensitivity, and love.”
Mr Croome ignores this. He claims that “This booklet denigrates and demeans same-sex relationships and will do immense harm to gay students and students being raised by same-sex couples.” He believes that it breaches provisions of Australia’s Anti-Discrimination Act which ban conduct “which offends, humiliates, intimidates, insults or ridicules”.
Like what? Mr Croome helpfully lists some of the ideas which he finds offensive and intimidating:
Same-sex marriages will destabilize marriage, attack the very soul of marriage, be gravely unjust to children and violate religious freedom. Same-sex relationships are to be lived chastely and are a very different kind of union to heterosexual unions. The dignity of children means affirming his or her need and natural right to a mother and a father and therefore messing with marriage is also messing with kids.
Until about five minutes ago in human history, ideas like these were universally accepted as the foundations of personal virtue and public order. But Mr Croome sees them as odious vilification of homosexuals. “By implication same-sex partners are not only excluded from the fundamental goods associated with marriage, including child rearing, but are a threat to them,” he concludes.
Mr Croome’s spray comes before same-sex marriage is legal in a single jurisdiction in Australia. But already, in his view, it is illegal to teach children that same-sex marriage is wrong, that homosexuals must live chaste lives and that every child needs a mother and a father.
What will happen after it is legalized? If he has his way, publically defending natural marriage may be construed as vilification and discrimination and could be prosecuted with all the power of the law. Teaching children how to be chaste will be deemed a form of child abuse.
Millions of words have spilled over the dam in the debate over same-sex marriage. But as the time of decision draws closer, “marriage equality” supporters are becoming bolder and the dangers are becoming clearer. Rodney Croome is not a legislator. But as the head of Australia’s powerful same-sex marriage movement, he has the ear of many members of parliament, both state and Federal. If they listen to him, thought-crimes like praising natural marriage in public or even teaching Christian sexual morality to children could land you in jail.
Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet.