I refer to Josh Hong's reflections in his recent article Homosexuality and politics as per his surprise on Australian minister's Penny Wong's recognition of her party's stand on gay relationships in Australia because there are ‘cultural, religious and historical views against it’.
It was stated that Wong had to respect the ban and the antecedents related to the ban.
I do not know the actual circumstances of Wong's position and the Australian cultural, religious and historical views on the subject matter, although I have knowledge of some of the religious anti-gay positions in Christianity and in Islam.
I am writing to share a 'dilemma' of development actors (advocates for social change) involved in community-level political (not meaning party politics) activism. I describe it loosely as a dilemma here, but it is actually more of a development theory which seems incongruent at first blush.
There is a principled position one can always and rightly take. One sees this as a target - the vision of the change.
Getting there includes a series or a variety of strategies/actions that will 'recognise' gender traditionalism (of all sorts including gender stereotypes including homophobia) together with strategies/actions that will transform gender relations.
The continuation of supporting gender traditionalism makes gender discrimination unquestioned. Gender equality is an important ideal. However by focussing on gender equality alone may obscure the fact that gender differentiation and power exists.
I use the example of giving women a waged work outside their homes. Women in many parts in rural Asia require permission from their husbands to do this as their gendered primary role is in the home as a care-giver.
Getting women wages is a target because studies have shown that this help women in making decisions for their family and more importantly for themselves. But traditionalism lives on in this world.
An operational framework for social transformation will include acts of requesting permission from husbands/guardians (traditionalism), and with providing child-care. In addition, there is a programme of reeducation of men and women (including exploring the basis of cultural/religious perspectives and interpretations) for a change in gender relations.
This is the simplest example I can locate at the moment. I do not have any immediate examples in relation to homophobia and there must be some contextual difference to the operational framework and not the theory.
Change is always incremental. I would agree that there must be a respect for the particular beliefs, culture and religious views. But it should not stop there. The hardest challenge is to combine or locate this respect in the integrated system for social transformation.
It would be untenable for Penny Wong to stop there as well. Especially as all Australian laws outlaw discrimination based on sexual difference/orientation/preference. A quick Google search will identify details of these.