Title: Organised homophobia continues Credit: Craig Young Comment Friday 5th January 2007 - 12:00pm1167951600 Article: 1538 Rights
Why do some Christian Right groups linger on and on, long after their target cause is long-lost? I pondered this as I noticed how quiet the second anniversary of the passage of the Civil Union Act had been, albeit overshadowed by the downfall of Don Brash and the Hollow Men revelations in early December. No-one's said much about lesbian and gay relationship recognition since Gordon Copeland's same-sex marriage ban bill crashed and burned in December 2005. The Maxim Institute ignored the second anniversary, while Family First and the self-styled 'family values' pressure groups are fixated on the oncoming demise of Section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961 and the Bradford repeal bill next month. In fact, the Christian Right has gone rather quiet on LGBT issues in general. As I noted several months ago, Christian Right 'exgay' books appear in fundamentalist bookshops, then usually get remaindered because no-one buys them, as Exodus Auckland is the only such group left in the country, and even that one mostly targets older men from conservative religious backgrounds who are insecure about their sexuality. Even the usual suspects have gone quiet, such as Garnet Milne and the Society for Promotion of Community Standards. Why is it that New Zealand's antigay pressure groups are so ephemeral, especially compared to the New Zealand Christian Right's other long-lost causes, like abortion rights and censorship policy? As even a cursory survey of case law in the relevant areas can tell one, those issues were decided in the early and mid-eighties, much to the ire of the Christian Right. So, why do these tiny, dying little groups still pester public officials related to the regulation of abortion access and censorship policy? There may be psychological reasons- being an anti-abortionist or pro-censorship hardliner may be an element of performing their conservative Catholic or fundamentalist religious identities, within an increasingly secular and multicultural society. They may even realise that they can't affect the delivery of abortion services or censorship procedures, due to the absence of relevant professional expertise from within their organisations. It might even be because it gives them a personal sense of purpose in their twilight years when they bake a cake for the Voice for Life stall during community service group week. As time goes on, though, mortality and morbidity (death and disease) start to take their toll. Given that the membership of such organisations is disproportionately elderly anyway, their activists become infirm, lose mobility and memory, move into nursing homes, and die, leaving bequests to their cause. However, even here, there's a long-term survival problem evident, as there will come a time when most of the former membership are deceased, will bequest funds have been exhausted on operational costs for the organisation (or vexatious litigation in the aforementioned areas), and decay sets in. Organisational newsletters become more and more sporadic, and the group becomes unable to even maintain its newsletters, before the surviving members elect to go into 'temporary recess' and donate the remaining funds to a worthy social conservative cause. Thereafter, all in silence, except for archivists and social historians who collect their opponents ephemera and newsletters for the sake of community history, such as Wellington's LAGANZ. Unfortunately, some of these outfits aren't even well-organised enough to produce newsletters, and websites only last for as long as their pressure groups have funding or motivation enough to operate them. Such was the case for opponents of women's suffrage and divorce liberalisation in New Zealand in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and such is the case for most opponents of LGBT rights today. If you do come across material from the other side, please pick it up with tongs and seal it in a plastic bag to prevent degeneration, and mail it off to LAGANZ. Our opponents may be easily distracted and poorly motivated, but if we don't, we miss out on learning the whole story about our own community's history of resistance to such organised homophobia. Craig Young - 5th January 2007    
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