Andrew O'Keefe from Weekend Sunrise was invited to Indigenous Boxer Tony Mundine's home and not only has his remarks gained national attention but his comments surrounding homosexuality have certainly left their mark.
O'Keefe asked Mundine: "Do you still stand by your comments?" referring to his comments from 2013, that Aboriginal culture and homosexuality are mutually exclusive. Mundine replied: "100 per cent. I told you, I speak the truth ... I got nothing against homosexuality, if you're gay, be gay. That's your choice, that's your right in this day and age.
"But don't exploit it on prime time when there's kids watching. And having sons come towards you and going 'dad is that all right, for a man to kiss a man?'"
"With my belief and my culture, no it's not (alright). And in Aboriginal law, that's forbidden."
O'Keefe responded that under Australian law homosexuality was forbidden until very recently and could he see the possibility of Aboriginal cultures accepting this. Tony Mundine was very specific: "No. Aboriginal law, it's an old culture. It's been here 40 thousand years, maybe longer. And it's never been allowed. There is no changing this, changing that."
It's not the first time Tony Mundine has spoken about this subject. His comments over the ABC series Redfern Now in November last year were likewise news worthy, declaring that Aboriginal culture and homosexuality don't mix.
He used his Facebook page to air his thoughts, having watched an episode of the drama series, where he criticised the show for including a homosexual character representing Aboriginal culture.
Mundine's comments on his Facebook have been well publicised. "Watching Redfern now & they promoting homosexuality! (Like it's OK in our culture) that ain't in our culture & our ancestors would have there [sic] head for it! Like my dad told me GOD made ADAM & EVE not Adam & Steve."
The Australian dilemma
There are several questions posed relating to Tony Mundine's comments and why many Australians making the same comments have a likelihood of ending up in 'hot soup' (as it were).
There are now legal constraints. Recent commentary on 18c illustrate that anything that could even be vaguely considered by a citizen as 'vilifying' could well cost someone their home in legal costs defending themselves. There are many in Australia in the academic community who have expressed much disquiet when the Government dropped their promise to 'fix 18c'.
The pendulum has swung in favour of anyone who deems themselves or community group 'vilified'. The person against whom such a claim is made could find themselves at the beckon of the full force of the State / Commonwealth's purse in pursing such apparently ill-advised comments.
Tony Mundine is able to make such comment as he is a very public figure, he has a high profile and is speaking as such, as a well established spokesman for his indigenous culture. It's one of their own. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten was quick to lecture the Australian Christian Lobby on this but not a peep on Tony Mundine.
Another of the reasons why Mundine can say it and many Australians might dare not say it, is that so much of the Australian media represents homosexuality as 'valid normality' whereby any other citizen offering a counter view has several tons of weight fall upon them for reasons of both intolerance and legalese.
The intolerance issue comes in many forms. Federal politician Penny Wong is an example of someone 'reasonable', a practising Christian, homosexual, raising a family in a same sex relationship, now pregnant, a darling of the Left, and expresses an articulate defence of her position on this issue. Therefore anyone giving a counter view is seen as being out of touch with what is perceived as a modern Australia.
Tony Mundine's views are held by many
The reality of the situation is there are many Australians (Christians and non-Christian people alike) who hold the views of Tony Mundine. The idea that in a class room - homosexuality is deemed normal and in effect, encouraged, is against the very basic philosophy of national population growth. Much has been written in recent years of this subject, so imagine if say 30% of the next generation thought it quite normal not to procreate (a reasonable outcome of homosexuality), the nation would be in dire straits. (There will always be a few engaged in artificial insemination).
Studies are consistently showing that although HIV is transmitted through heterosexual activities, in percentage wise, the vast HIV transmission is through homosexual activity. This is treated as a medical issue with world health organisations and no one dare treat it as a moral, religious or cultural issue.
Personal freedom is a mammoth issue - but at what point does personal freedom in such issues become a threat to the national good. We already see this in having motor vehicle speed limits in the suburbs where children play.
We see it in Customs preventing diseased fruit or foods entering Australia and likewise drugs – it might be a person's right to take an illegal drug but it's against the nation's interest to allow it's destructive outcomes. How many young people do we hear of dying due to accidental drug overdose? Their personal freedom came at the cost of distraught families – their early death is in real terms a cost of the nation. There must be limits to personal freedom.
I can think of any number of examples from even recent history, where the political limiting of free speech was such that the results bought a nation and its people to their knees and destruction. Nazi Germany is one example, the USSR was another, Pol Pot in Cambodia is another, the list goes on and on.
I personally follow the line of Baptists in Australia who have made it very clear that marriage is between one man and one woman as the only legitimate expression of marriage. Like Tony Mundine says, anybody can be anything in Australia. Moreover, trying to legislate morals is futile, but my view is that I am not happy at all with homosexuality flaunted in such a way that it is detrimental to the nation's well-being. That's the tricky bit!
Yet, nor do I, as most Australians, don't want to see unfair treatment because someone is a homosexual – there are legal right to superannuation and property and even the IOC has impartiality in this area, the corporate world doesn't discriminate either.
What is at stake is the right to disagree to such a life style where it creates injustice to the wider community. That should be my right. 18c makes this a daunting prospect.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html