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Graeme

Homosexuality and Professional Sports

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An interesting article in today's The Age in Melbourne, regarding a proposed "Gay Pride" round in next year's AFL (Australian Football League) competiton:

http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/pride-v-prejudice-afl-shows-flag-20121215-2bgkt.html

While the article is encouraging, especially the part where they're having the new AFL players addressed by a gay footballer from one of the suburban competitions, I can't help thinking that the cartoon that's posted with the article has more than a hint of truth in it.

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As I see it, Colin, the cartoon is asking the question "Is a Gay Pride round just window dressing to make the AFL look good, without really changing anything?"

Historically, it's been the Player's Association (the AFLPA), not the league itself, that's been pushing the tolerance and acceptance message. The league itself is only just starting to come on board, which is why I was interested in this article. However, even though the AFLPA has been supportive, there has still been a number of homophobic incidents - mainly name calling and slurs. There's still a long way to go.

I think the cartoon was exaggerating the reality, but that's what cartoonists do. I do think, though, that it's a good reminder that there's still a lot of work to be done - not only within the league itself (the AFLPA has been doing a good job there), but with the supporters. Once the supporters - the people who go to the games each week - get behind the idea of supporting any gay players that may be in the league (there are no "out" players in the league), then I think we can relegate that cartoon to the dustbin of history. Until then....

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A couple more articles from today's The Age newspaper website:

Famous Footballer Speaks Out for Equality

Gay Team Plays A Straight Bat

The first continues the topic of the original post, regarding homosexuality and professional sports. The second article is about a gay rugby team here in Melbourne that plays in the Victorian Rugby Union competition (a lower tier competition). A photo of some of the team is included, for those that are interested....

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Additionally see this article on Australia's proposed new anti-discrimination laws.

Not being a sports fan, I am more concerned with the Australian Christian Lobby's seeming stranglehold of political influence on LGBTQ human rights. See this report which claims that Prime Minister Gilliard, who claims to be an atheist, "...has assured conservative faith-based institutions that they’ll still be able to turn away gays and lesbians under proposed new anti-discrimination laws."

As a non-believer, I am appalled that religions are permitted to discriminate against groups including LGBTQ Australians.

My argument is simple; as religions have modified their adherence to scriptural demands for slavery, divorce, prohibitions on women and coloured people, eating shellfish, or wearing clothing of more than one fabric, then it is justifiable to demand that religions accept the human rights for LGBTQ people to not be discriminated against. We don't allow these religions to practise their laws to stone people, including children, to death in Australia, so why should they be allowed to discriminate against LGBTQ human rights for equality? They shouldn't be allowed to do so, in my opinion.

In Australia sport is something akin to a religion for many people, and if they aren't permitted to discriminate, then neither should the other religions.

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Des, I agree with you, and not very surprisingly, a lot of religious people do, too. This was debated a long time ago on the religious blog at The Age newspaper website:

A Discriminating Eye

Essentially, I agree with Barney (the religious editor) in that an employer should not be allowed to discriminate against someone who competently does (or can do) the job, and equally an employer should not be required to employ someone who undermines the employer. The proposed laws do not maintain this balance, and as such should be rejected.

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I don't think anyone can argue that Texas is the most sports crazy state in the US. Some businesses actually close on Friday night in small towns because everyone is at the high school football games. But Texas is also home to some other kinds of crazy people and a lot of them control what kids are taught in school.

If I was an admissions officer (outside of Texas...they do carry guns down there), I would reject a lot of the high school credit given students for participation in science, social studies and history. English would still be a pass, although the kids might be ignorant of any literature other than Bible stories. But the mavens of education, or lack of it, have seen fit to publish the course of study based upon too many ignorant religious views. Read on...disturbing:

http://tfninsider.org/2013/01/16/new-tfnef-report-texas-public-school-bible-classes-teach-races-come-from-noahs-sons-biblical-literalism-6000-year-old-earth/

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Chris, it's more than disturbing, it's downright appalling. The freedom of religious opinion has been co-opted to afford an evangelising agenda that instils ignorance into the education environment at the expense of the scientific method and inhibits any hint of teaching critical thinking.

The danger of an eduction system that panders to religious belief is quite capable of challenging secular government to the point of replacing such government with a theocracy. The division between state and church was clearly one of the major concerns of the founding fathers of the U.S. Constitution and the first amendment, but this too is in danger from the fundamentalists misconstruing those concerns.

Clearly, the advances afforded by the founding documents, along with the amendments to the Constitution, are subject to the people understanding them as safeguarding personal freedom from irrational, unverifiable claims being used to dictate what the individual believes. When biblical text is imposed on society as accomplished fact, then that division, between religion and the state, becomes blurred to the point of absurdity, ignorance, and threatens the freedom of thought for all of the people.

Belief in a god is not the problem, but believing that some men speak for god and the rest of us have to obey their utterances is the foundation for a new and very dark age.

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