As the Lennon Government in Tasmania lurches from one crisis to the next and tumbles in the polls, largely through arrogance and incompetence, the Island Premier is in desperate search of votes to save his sinking ship. Where can he possibly find a new constituency, one he hasn’t reached out to before?
While Tasmania has worked very hard to shake off its anti-gay tag over the last decade and radically reformed its laws to make the state a safer and more caring place, a bit of good old fashioned gay bashing never goes astray. Does it?
Seeing an opportunity to grasp a few conservative voters and maybe pull in some cautious Catholics, Lennon has unilaterally decided to water down Tasmania’s anti-discrimination laws so as to offer concessions to Church groups and Church schools.
If there’s one thing the Religious Right have always loathed about Tasmania’s strong anti-discrimination laws, it’s that they are not exempt from them — unlike other states. So, while they would dearly love to, Church groups can’t sack gay teachers, expell gay students, block anti-homophobia programs being rolled out in the classrooms or stop same-sex couples attending the school dance. But that’s about to change.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
A recent review of the Anti-Discrimination Act has seen furious lobbying behind the scenes by the Church, and great pressure placed on MP’s to wind back the clock. Despite previous failed attempts to move Tasmanian Attorney’s General on this matter, it looks like the Vatican has finally won.
Lennon will soon announce his initiative, nicely in time for the Papal visit. The new policy will all be obscured around cuddly rhetoric concerning “allowing higher quotas of Catholic children in Catholic schools”, and “upholding church principals”, but the underlying agenda is very clear: No Poofters.