Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has cancelled an appearance at an Australian Christian Lobby conference next month after its director suggested that the lifestyle of gays was as unhealthy as the lifestyle of smokers.

“To compare the health effects of smoking cigarettes with the many struggles gay and lesbian Australians endure in contemporary society is heartless and wrong,” said Ms Gillard.

The brief comment by ACL director Jim Wallace was made at a debate at the University of Tasmania in Hobart earlier this week. In response to a question from the floor after his speech, he said: “The life of smokers is reduced by something like seven to 10 years and yet we tell all our kids at school they shouldn’t smoke. We need to be aware that the homosexual lifestyle carries these problems.”

Mr Wallace was debating Greens leader Christine Milne, a Tasmanian senator. Afterwards she declared that she was outraged by his “homophobia”.

In this latest outbreak of the politics of hurt feelings, an interest in the facts seems to be last priority. Mr Wallace seems to have relied on a 1997 study of the health of gay men in Vancouver in the International Journal of Epidemiology. It concluded that:

“In a major Canadian centre, life expectancy at age 20 years for gay and bisexual men is 8 to 20 years less than for all men. If the same pattern of mortality were to continue, we estimate that nearly half of gay and bisexual men currently aged 20 years will not reach their 65th birthday. Under even the most liberal assumptions, gay and bisexual men in this urban centre are now experiencing a life expectancy similar to that experienced by all men in Canada in the year 1871.”

To the dismay of the authors, this statistic was taken up enthusiastically by opponents of same-sex marriage. So in 2001 they issued a disclaimer. They wrote: “ In contrast, if we were to repeat this analysis today the life expectancy of gay and bisexual men would be greatly improved.” Unfortunately, no one seems to have repeated the analysis in Vancouver or elsewhere, even though it seems like an extremely interesting research topic. Gay health may be the third rail in medicine, just as it is in politics.

Numerous authorities insist that gays have very poor health. Take, for example, the Victorian government’s Better Health website. It states that “Gay men and lesbians have higher rates of mental health disorders than the rest of the population. They also have higher rates of obesity, smoking and unsafe alcohol and drug use, and are more likely to self-harm.” And one thing is clear: none of this is their fault. “The problem does not lie with GLBTI individuals, but with the attitudes and behaviour of the society around them,” Better Health insists.

On the other hand, the Australian website Crikey did a rough-and-ready survey of research on gay men’s life expectancy. Nothing it found seemed as thorough as the 25-year-old Canadian study, but it concluded that “ the evidence that gays die earlier than straights is dubious at best”. Wallace’s claim was “mostly rubbish”. 

These contradictory findings suggests that gay health is sustained by something which approaches the miraculous. Gays are said to be victimised, depressed and sickly, but they still soldier on just as long as everyone else. It’s hard to tell whether long and miserable lives like these should be described as triumphs or tragedies. 

What does seem heartless and wrong is to ignore the facts about gay health, whatever they may be. We know about the risks of obesity and smoking. If we’re talking about legalising gay marriage, isn’t it worthwhile inquiring about the risk of early deaths of would-be gay parents?

In any case, Mr Wallace gave an excellent speech – none of which was reported after this imbroglio. Here is an edited version. He laments the “selfish and increasingly vitriolic voice of gay activism”, which in view of what happened, seems hard to argue with.

* * * * *

In our secular world there is no truth more profound and of more consequence for its breaking, than the biological truth of our origin – that every one of us is conceived by the action of a man and a woman. That that genetic identity is the reason each of us is unique – this is a profound truth, but it goes further.

Unlike animals, we are not born to a mother and a father to meet only the temporary carnal needs of our infancy and to be cast out of the nest or burrow never to be seen again. Our genetic identity is central to our being, of who we are and who we will be. The love and role model of a mother and father, a male and female, are critical to our healthy nourishing and development…

This imperfect world also means every child doesn’t have its genetic parents. Some are removed from their genetic parents through death, some tyranny, some sex slavery and some divorce. But in each of these cases the law is called upon to restore a situation always in the best interests of the child, always as close as possible to what was natural. It’s not optional this best interests of the child, it’s demanded by convention and mandated by international convention.

And those best interests are only served by re establishing a situation for that child as close to the biological truth as possible, by providing for the child whose genetic parentage is broken a mother and father.

And not just that, but a mother and father that as much as the law is able to encourage, will love that child and sacrifice for its best interests as willingly as it biological parents should or would have…

Deliberately denying children’s rights

But this gay activists’ agenda now means that we do it imperfectly intentionally. In a number of states in Australia even a single man can “get” a child through surrogacy. The child’s inalienable right to a mother sacrificed to the selfish demands of adults for a child nature wouldn’t give them.

Of course there is still a mother, but we have gay activists, including celebrity gay couples, proudly announcing they will never allow the child to know its mother because it’s their “right” to be exclusively its parents.

Their right! This unnatural right nature never gave them in the most important, most sacred, most beautiful of functions we are blessed to participate in, the conception, nourishing and development in the mother’s womb and then birth of a child.

In the saddest cases of this, the mother who carries this child from nine months is a poor Indian woman, forced by poverty to compromise her motherhood.

Gay activist vitriol

But thanks to politics, the support of parties scrambling in this unholy game we’ve turned the great idea of democracy into, politicians have decided to play God and deny a child its natural right and succumb to this selfish and increasingly vitriolic voice of gay activism.

A voice so much louder than the child’s – so much more politically advantageous to satisfy when a child has no vote.

In NSW we have had fathers’ names erased from birth certificates to be replaced by a biological lie of “parent 1” and “parent 2” to satisfy the demands of gay adults.

And of course when you break the most fundamental truth of our very conception and biological identity, you have to build your whole campaign on lies to sustain it – and the campaign to create this lie on birth certificates did just that…

But even more how does this argument hold when nearly 25% of children are not living with their biological parents.

Discerning truth has been a cursory exercise in our parliaments when the alternative is the vitriol and demonization of gay activism. We have allowed ourselves to cave in to bullying, to the public demonization that the anti-social media now enables.

And what does it say for truth in the Greens’ agenda when this party will fight tooth and nail for the right of every tree to “grow up” in its natural environment and yet champion the selfish agenda of adults that inevitably means through homosexual surrogacy and adoption a child is deliberately denied its natural environment, the environment without which it can’t enter the world, the family of a mother and father…

Freedom of conscience and religion

If the law is about justice and is the ultimate refuge of the most vulnerable, then it must never knowingly be creating vulnerability for the human rights of any section of society and particularly a vulnerability to their guaranteed fundamental human rights.

Freedom of religion and conscience, unlike gay marriage, are a human right – in fact they are what the UN terms a “fundamental” human right. So fundamental that the ICCPR actually says that it can’t be limited even in times of threat to the very existence of the state.

The passage of gay marriage law would create a real vulnerability to freedom of religion and conscience.

Already around the world whenever there is gay marriage legislation or any legislation which defines a homosexual union such as civil unions as “the same as marriage”, religious freedom and freedom of conscience are immediately attacked by this unreasonable gay activism, which shows a total intolerance of the rights of faith communities.

Civil celebrants declining to take gay ceremonies have lost their jobs, wedding photographers and cake makers have been hauled into court and fined for as a matter of freedom of conscience, declining requests to participate in gay weddings. Churches have been forced to conduct marriage ceremonies or blessings, as has been legislated most recently in Denmark…

Citizens rely on Parliamentarians to serve the intent of the law, not to play mischief with it and so reduce their confidence in it…

Another Stolen Generation?

The breaking of truth in the process will never serve justice in an outcome.

And no truth is more fundamental or carries more implications if we break it, than the fact of our biological identity – we only have to look at the terrible consequences of the Stolen Generation to know that.

Lets not allow activists to create the need for another apology, more ruined lives, lets acknowledge the truth that marriage is between a man and a woman and no activism, no matter how well funded, well organised or aggressive, should be allowed to compromise it.

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet. He lives in Sydney, Australia.