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  Some relevant thoughts from Justice Kirby. (Australian HIGH COURT Judge,
Michael Kirby, who declared his homosexuality some years ago)
 
ALSO: The University of Melbourne Chancellor's Human Rights Lecture 2004
The Hon Justice Michael Kirby AC CMG
Wednesday 3 November 2004

 

Recently, Justice Kirby was interviewed as part of a documentary called 'Outing Gay Hate' broadcast on SBS Television, 13/02/2001.  "...profiling the murder, violence and vilification targeting gays in Australia......."  The program called for  the "breaking of the code of silence" about these injustices. 

What is interesting for Rainbow Sash Supporters was how clearly Justice Kirby laid much of the blame for this injustice at the feet of the church and religious leaders. Coming from a man who is not from the religious world but has a unique view on our society, he speaks with a clarity that is worth reviewing, word for word! 

SOME QUOTES from Michael Kirby: 

................"The churches of the 'Book', (the Bible) unfortunately have got themselves locked in, in some cases, to an understanding of certain isolated passages of the Bible which lead them to a belief that homosexuality is evil in God's eyes, and if major churches, churches of great history and authority and power, preach that homosexual acts, which are the natural outcome of homosexual orientation, are intrinsically evil, -- evil! -- very strong language, then you are bound to have many ordinary citizens who pick up those words handed to them from authority and take the view that 'if that is evil then I must do something to extirpate evil" and that leads on to general denigration, to discrimination, to humiliation and to the great pressure that gay and lesbian and bisexual people have to feel ashamed of themselves and to look down on themselves.  This in turn feeds youth suicide and feelings of low self-esteem, less than full achievement and all of this is really based on an irrational assumption that people can "evilly choose" their sexually orientation.  They don't, and they can't change it, and we have to face up to the consequences of that understanding............"

(NARRATOR: ....but there is a long way to go.  Exemptions in the State anti-discrimination legislation still allows church schools to sack gay and lesbian teachers and a those schools remain free to teach that homosexual acts our sinful)

.............."In some religious schools, it's really quite difficult for teachers to embark upon a scientific explanation of homosexuality because the science challenges the understanding of the holy book, and therefore if we are serious about the very large number of pupils who are in church schools and religious schools, of every domination in Australia, then it will be necessary to reach out to those and not simply to say, "Well, They're entitled to teach whatever they like in their church schools, it's a matter of doctrine" insofar as that doctrine is causing hatred, violence, pain and discrimination and the indelible attitudes to homosexual people, which makes it difficult to change, then it may just have to give, because protection of minorities is a very important attribute of a democracy, and we have come to realise that in Australia in my lifetime, in respect of women, in respect of people of colour, as the White Australia policy was abandoned, in respect of aboriginal Australians, and the next step on the journey is understanding it in relation to homosexual Australians....".

"..........If in your home, you have been used to hearing gay people called "poofters" and "queers", and talk of violence and images of that kind about, then the best teachers in the world won't change things. 
 
........ One thing I learned in the work I've done in relation to the AIDS epidemic, was the importance of basing all strategies on scientific truths and on good data, and I believe the best way to get to people is through an understanding of the nature of human sexuality, of it's variety, of it's indelible existence, of its universality throughout the world, of its universality throughout all time, and that it's no big threat to other people.  And if this can be accepted, then we may have a chance of changing things........"
".........If the sexuality arises out of your orientation, then it is just irrational to persist with a demonisation of the sexual acts because they are the acts that are natural to a homosexual person: to reach out for fullness of being, for love of another, for companionship and for fidelity and trust in another human being.  Now this is good for heterosexual people, and it is noble and wonderful in life and it ought not to be denied, and I don't believe true people of spirituality would deny that to another human being, if they think about it, but we've got to get that message over to the leadership of churches and of the State in order to ensure that the instruction which is the source of denigration and discrimination is changed......"
ON DISTURBING TRENDS IN RECENT HATE CRIME COURT CASES..

"..........We are seeing more recently in the courts cases which are being defended on the basis that a person made a non-violent approach of a sexual kind to another and that this is said to excuse the homicide of the perpetrator, so that the so-called "homosexual advance defence"  is a phenomena which has burst upon the legal scene in the United States and in other western countries and in Australia.........."

SOME PERSONAL THOUGHTS ON HIS OWN 'COMING OUT:


"...........If I had been completely candid there was a risk that I would be put into a box as the 'gay judge' and if that had happened to me I would not be sitting where I am now in the High Court of Australia.  -- That is the unfortunate truth: that there is a glass ceiling for women, and there is a glass ceiling for gays.  But it was my partner who said to me, "You owe this to younger homosexual people, this is something we both owe to make the point that homosexuals are responsible people; they do not fit the stereotype necessarily, and they are everywhere"  Now, since I did that I have had a loss of hate mail but I have also had a lot of support and the support has overwhelmingly been from straight people, heterosexual people, so that times are changing, but they will only change if we break the code of silence because it is the code of silence that lulls some people into the false belief that homosexuals are a small group of wilful, evil people who are simply defying the order of God and nature . Well it is just not like that, and people have got to be told that it's not like that.

 

I've certainly received a number of letters of hate since my public statements about homosexuality, most of them, I regret to say, written by people of a religious background.  These are hurtful, but I believe they represent at a minority viewpoint in society and you just have to wear them as an example of the changing times.  If the choice is between silence and upsetting nobody, or honesty and candour and upsetting a few who had demons in their minds, then I'm afraid people like me have to accept the latter, and it is only by doing so, and by bringing home the truth, that we will change things, but change we will, and change we must................."