I was in the audience at ABC’s Q & A (Monday 06/10/2014) and I
listened to the question from Ms. Stevens to Bob Katter about denying
homosexuality and the links to stigma and mental illness. Everyone
cheered. The feeling of everyone’s passion to overcome injustice and to
recognise individual rights in that one space was emotionally
Dr. Louise Byrne’s response about overcoming stigma and explaining to
others what her job was, which exposes her illness, speaks to the face
of real action on reducing stigma.
Every time I see anti-burqa posts on my newsfeed, in letters to the
editor, on forum posts, my heart sinks. I believe that narrative shapes
society. What we choose to express, publish and share and how we
position ourselves in conversation, shapes society.
I find that all such anti-burqa posts and comments advocate stigma.
Ms. Stevens put to Katter, “that your reluctance to address homosexuals as well as their civil rights is quite detrimental to their mental health”.
This question can be used again and again, replacing homosexuals with
other marginalized groups and the answer should be that it is
Hundreds of women are being vilified, ostracized and attacked
violently in Australia, simply for wearing religious/cultural
coverings. Women in particular are being targeted for attacks; women
who deserve a space in our society, the same as everyone else. Why are
sections of our community intent on condemning, vilifying and advocating
violence against such a small minority of women; when there is no
evidence that the wearing of any cultural/religious covering has
threatened our security or way of life?
Growing up in the very racist 70’s and 80’s and working in community
mental health in the 90s, has shown me that stigma has the negative
consequences of denial of freedom of expression, mobility, achievement,
integration and community contribution.
I have followed the burqa debate for a number of years and the same
arguments pop up. On the issue of security, the same concern is not
expressed about men in full faced beards and hats or men in suits,
beards and sunglasses; but only of women expressing their individual
freedom to pay respect to their religion or culture.
Then there are those who post snippets from the Koran as ‘evidence’ and boast ‘they have read the Koran.’
I think people who have a misplaced fear of women who wear any
cultural religious covering, should refrain from expressing their
bigotry and hatred and step away from studying parts of the Koran and go
to the library and read the following books:
The Chrysalids – John Wyndham
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
The Color Purple – Alice Walker
Stigma; notes on the management of spoiled identity – Erving Goffman
Witch Hunts: A graphic history of the Burning Times. Rocky Wood, Lisa Morton and Greg Chapman
Maybe these bigots and advocates of hatred and violence may want
to publish their thoughts and interpretation of each book below and if
it has affected their thinking on civil rights and freedom in our
Originally published on polyfeministix.wordpress.com.