The foxhounds of identity politics always have their noses in the air ready to catch the scent of any new bigotry. And they’ve just picked up a new trail.
The tax-payer funded National Gender and Emergency Management (GEM) Guidelines want to stamp out gender-based discrimination — of women and LGBTI people — in times of disaster.
Gender is a ‘social construction’ and refers “to how people view and express themselves across the masculine-feminine spectrum,” the guidelines say.
For the identity warriors, gender is a frontline issue, along with race. Although GEM proponents claim to be defending dignity and respect, the guidelines threaten to do more harm than good.
Soaring temperatures across parts of Australia already mean many of us are on heightened fire alert. Disastrous bushfires are fast becoming a regular feature of our summer story.
When disaster does strike, communities always come together mustering resources to meet desperate needs for food and shelter, and working round the clock to save life and limb.
Faith-based charities are often in the front line providing support. For Christians, as for many religious folk, faith mandates sheltering the homeless, tending the sick, and feeding the hungry.
But if the proposed GEM guidelines are adopted, religious charities involved in much-needed disaster relief may have to pack up their stalls, fold up their tables, and leave the area.
Church-based welfare groups might not want to bear the cost of providing additional facilities in disaster areas, such as toilets, for intersex people, as the GEM stipulates.
And if you’ve suffered the loss of your home or your livelihood or a family member, being asked by well-meaning aid worker, “What is your gender identity?” might seem fatuous.
By dividing people into tribes and tribelets – transgender, genderqueer, gender fluid, and the like – the guidelines will undermine trust and erect boundaries between people.
When fire or flood devastates a community, Aussies habitually set aside differences to help one another and relieve suffering. Disaster relief is a time for courage and comfort; not for carping about stereotypes of gender identity.
Peter Kurti is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies