SPOILER ALERT: This will probably be of interest only to Australian readers.

One of the gay men who appeared on Tuesday’s SBS Insight program (see Conjugality, August 14) immediately complained about the unkind, wounding, ignorant, hostile, dehumanising, and discriminatory attitude of some participants. Writing in Eureka Street, an Australian Catholic magazine, Ben (no surname given) said that “For the first time, I felt the full force of internalised homophobia and public heterosexism”.

I’m not sure what these words mean, other than “someone disagreed with me”.

If gay activists dissolve into puddles of self-pity when confronted with opposing views, it becomes impossible to have a rational discussion based on logic and evidence.

I was in the audience when the program was recorded. I heard no homophobic remarks, just requests for reasons beyond emotional satisfaction. I expected a discussion of the social, psychological and economic issues involved in legalising same-sex marriage, especially its impact upon children. Instead Insight focused on how much so-and-so ardently desires acceptance and compassion.

But hurt feelings alone do not justify a change in the law.

Of all people, the star of the evening, Penny Wong, a lesbian who had an IVF baby with her partner in 2011, should understand that. She is the Federal Minister for Finance and the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Under her watch the Australian government is sponsoring full-page advertisements with a picture of an Iranian woman weeping her heart out because she will never, ever, get a visa.

No acceptance there, Penny. No compassion, either. It is atrocious exploitation of a refugee’s privacy and a grubby, cynical, xenophobic lunge at votes in marginal seats. But Senator Wong argues that her policy on asylum-seekers is “tough but also humane and fair”. But she could be right, I suppose; it all depends on the evidence and logic of the arguments. 

Taking a leaf from her book, that is what we should say to gays and lesbians who want the cachet of marriage. Sorry, we respect you, but the status quo is “tough but also humane and fair”.

Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet. 

Michael Cook

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