WITH friends like these, who needs enemies?
The community that was once one of the closest to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull appears to have turned against him, just weeks out from a general election.
At a ceremony at NSW’s Parliament House last night Mr Turnbull took out this year’s top gong in the annual gay and lesbian outrageous, ridiculous and ignorant comment awards, otherwise knows the GLORIAs.
Mr Turnbull’s dubious win means his name will now be engraved on the giant peacock shaped trophy alongside prime ministerial predecessor Tony Abbott, who has won it twice.
It all used to be so different with many in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community holding the Prime Minister in high esteem.
His electorate of Wentworth covers some of the ‘gayest’ neighbourhoods in Australia and he became the first sitting Prime Minister to attend Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in March where he was snapped taking selfies with the crowd.
But far from winning the award for an ignorant comment, Mr Turnbull was nominated for “effectively saying nothing to help defend the LGBTI community” since he deposed Mr Abbott.
While the awards are firmly tongue-in-cheek (the PM’s eventual fate was decided by a “boo off”), organiser Penny Sharpe, a Labor member of the NSW Upper House, said his win nevertheless sent a stinging message.
“The result reflects the great disappointment within the LGBTI community about the Malcolm Turnbull they thought they knew and the Malcolm Turnbull they’ve had,” said Ms Sharpe.
“Someone who has previously stood up for marriage equality against bullying has defended the one bullying program we have for the LGBTI community and is going to force us to a plebiscite.
“It’s about saying it’s not just enough to have words, people want to see action and they’ll judge you harshly if you don’t deliver for them.”
Mr Turnbull topped the public online vote — which was open to all — in a busy political category at this year’s GLORIAs beating Nationals MP Andrew Broad who likened same-sex relationships to farm animals when he said: “I can put the rams in a paddock and they might mount one another, but no lambs will come out.”
He also triumphed over LNP MP George Christensen who spearheaded the campaign to defend the Safe Schools program and Labor minister Gary Johns who played down discrimination against gay people.
In the sports section, world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao won after describing gay couples as “worse than animals”.
In the religion category, the Australian Christian Lobby’s Lyle Shelton, who is at the forefront of the anti-marriage equality campaign, was nominated no less than three times.
He won for a comment he made on Sky News where he said, “if the definition of marriage is changed, it’s no longer assumed … that I’m married to a woman. So that affects me straight away.”
Sharpe said it was her favourite clanger of the year.
“I personally wanted Lyle Shelton to win because I think the idea that because we get marriage equality that means people don’t understand that he’s married to his wife is patently ridiculous.”
Shelton and Pacquiao joined Turnbull and ex-US Presidential hopeful Marco Rubio as the subjects of a raucous in a boo-off for the Golden GLORIA. The event’s equivalent of the Gold Logie, the Prime Minister won comfortably. Or possibly uncomfortably.
It was not a universal choice however, with some in the room still hopeful Mr Turnbull could prove the naysayers wrong in the long run.
Ms Sharpe said the event was about pointing out homophobia and transphobia in public life. But the ceremony was also meant to be taken with a pinch of salt.
“It’s not supposed to be too serious. It’s supposed to be a time we can come together in the face of adversity and enjoy the fact we’re here and support those having a much harder time.
“Life is fun despite the really incredibly hurtful and ridiculous things people say.”
Comedian Kirsty Webeck, who hosted the event, said it was important to call people out for things they say in the mass media. “The rhetoric they’re putting out here is deeply affecting the whole community and especially young people.”
Asked if she thought anti marriage equality campaigners should try and get a sense of humour she said, “It would be nice, but I don’t think any of us should hold our breath”.