It all starts with a tweet:
— Michael Barnett (@mikeybear) March 17, 2017
That’d be my activist husband. He calls himself on his Twitter profile:
Campaigner for human rights and equality.
Not gay rights, not marriage equality rights, human rights and equality. For everyone.
Of course, it’s not so simple to say it all starts with this tweet. Michael had already piqued the interest of The Australian following the Coopers Brewery debacle with the Bible Society and a couple of right-wing Liberal party members.
The misinterpretation and bad reporting by just about everyone starts with this tweet:
The LGBTIQ community is alarmed that you sponsor the Bible Society, opposed to marriage equality @coopersbrewery. Do you oppose equality?
— Michael Barnett (@mikeybear) March 11, 2017
Sure, Michael gets sweary. Some people find that challenging. I myself try to limit my swearing to private conversations, I’m not always successful. I don’t find tweets with ‘fuck’ in them much of a problem. It’s easy to pick up on public swearing as some sort of measure of a person’s moral standing. Or, you could use it as a measure of the stress and frustration by Michael when a section of society sees non-heterosexuals as deviants, perverts, sinners and plain and simply evil. They play nice, say nice things, they mean really mean things.
As an aside, as I don’t want to dwell on the Coopers Brewery situation too much. My objection to this was simply that the Bible Society thought it suitable to have a light-hearted conversation about marriage equality. That is, my right to have my marriage to Michael recognised by the State. Human rights are not something our politicians should be having a light-hearted conversation about over a beer.
The Australian has led the charge in indignation following Michael’s tweets. They’ve splashed his name across the front page of their newspaper and generated quite the media storm with various outlets making assumptions. Most of those assumptions are incorrect.
I can categorically say that Michael has not asked for anyone to be sacked. I can also say that he has not made a connection between the current marriage equality quest and people belonging to the Australian Christian Lobby’s board or the Lachlan Macquarie Institute Board. It is so much more than that.
So, the background. Michael has tweeted about Mark Allaby from IBM and Steven Chavura from Macquarie University. IBM and Macquarie University are part of Pride in Diversity. These men also sit on the Board of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute.
Pride in Diversity runs the Australian Workplace Equality Index. Organisations undertake the bench-marking for a variety of reasons, at the crux of the work is the value that they see in ensuring that their employees are happy in their workplace and that managers are supportive of the diverse workforce they have.
IBM is considered a silver tier employer in 2016 benchmarks. That is, they have undertaken a significant amount of work in the area of GLBTI inclusion and are currently very active in the space. Macquarie University are on the bronze tier, they have provided sufficient evidence of work in the space to be considered to have GLBTI inclusive workplace. Both organisations take their workforce seriously in relation to inclusiveness and diversity with respect to the non-heterosexuals amongst them. The Pride in Diversity participation is voluntary, and I would guess seen as important to these workplaces, it’s a lot of work to get to the top rankings.
I’m sure that IBM and Macquarie University have staff ethics statements and codes of conduct that talk to this diversity. One of the sections in the benchmarks is about policy and practice. Like all workplaces you would be expected to sign these codes and statements in good faith and agree to abide by them.
Lachlan Macquarie Institute is attempting to train up-and-coming leaders of the future. They would like them to carry the Christian message into their public lives. They are guided by a board, and that board is very similar to the board of the Australian Christian Lobby. The ACL has been going out of its way to make life for people like me difficult. The Institute’s director writes this on the web site:
What we seek to achieve by this programme is the transformation of the nature of politics and governance in Australia. By helping develop the character and intellectual foundations of future politicians, journalists, advisors and public policy influencers before they step into public life. The hope is that we will see more decisions based on a solid understanding of what is good, true and beautiful in light of the revelation of Jesus Christ.
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God”
– 2 Corinthians 5:20
Nick Jensen – Director – Lachlan Macquarie Institute
In a nutshell, they want to train people to carry the hard-right religious message into the world. That message that says the only good thing in the world is heterosexuals, white and middle class.
How then is it possible for Allaby and Chavura to sit on the Board of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute while at the same time working in organisations that actively work to attain status in the Pride In Diversity Program?
This is the question that is being asked. The evidence of the staff at both organisations would appear to be at odds. Further questions I think that are worth asking is do the organisation really want to belong to Pride in Diversity or is it just lip service? Is it possible to shield your faith from your work when that faith actually requires you to influence your work place? What protection do the GLBTI community have from those that consider them to be second class citizens?
In part two I’ll take a look at the media-shit-storm that is raging from inaccurate reporting.