An open letter to Geoff Shaw and the Victorian Liberal Party

Dear Mr Shaw (and Mr Baillieu),

I am appalled that you responded to Mr Quilligan’s email with the following:

You state that you ” want to work, live and love freely during the course of my life, and I want to do that without thinking that I can’t”. What if I loved driving 150kms per hour in residential areas? What if there was a convicted sex offender who stated that, or a child molester? Can they still do what they want? Under your statement the answer is yes.

You equated a consensual adult relationships to two illegal activities.  Last I checked (regardless of what you actually feel about the topic), same sex relationships were not illegal – however paedophilia and speeding are both illegal activities with a great deal of societal harm attached to them.  So you suggested that Mr Quilligan’s desire to “love freely during the course of [his] life” was the equivalent to a paedophile or sex offender raping someone.  Seriously?  Were you thinking straight when you said that?

I hear today that you “apologised” to Mr Quilligan and that your party has suggested that your comments were “misrepresented“.  How anyone could misrepresent your comments as they were taken directly from your email exchange (which was published) I don’t know.  You clearly equate same sex relationships with illegal activities.

Your apology read:

I’m sure you understand that it was not my intention to convey the 
impressions that were portrayed in the media.

I apologise and regret any offence caused.

The article does not reflect my views.

You don’t apologise for what you said, you’re just apologising for Mr Quilligan’s offence.  You didn’t say, “I”m sorry I said what I did”, you didn’t say, “I was wrong, and I should not have said what I did, and I’m sorry that I hurt you.”  The Age article  may not reflect your views, but the email exchange that was also published by The Age was clearly your views, and your views are clearly offensive, hurtful and wrong.

Your apology meets the classic example of a non-apology:

A non-apology apology is a statement in the form of an apology that is nothing of the sort, a common gambit in politics and public relations. It most commonly entails the speaker saying that he or she is sorry not for a behavior, statement or misdeed, but rather is sorry only because a person who has been aggrieved is requesting the apology, expressing a grievance, or is threatening some form of retribution or retaliation.

An example of a non-apology apology would be to say “I’m sorry that you felt insulted” to someone who has been offended by a statement. This apology does not admit that there was anything wrong with the remarks made, and, additionally, it may be taken as insinuating that the person taking offense was excessively thin-skinned or irrational in taking offense at the remarks in the first place. (Wikipedia)

Now I understand Mr Shaw that you are a Pentecostal Christian, and therefore you have strong views on what is and what is not moral behaviour.  Let me remind you of something before I continue on “As far as I’m concerned your freedom of religion ends where other people’s human rights start.” (@lissylikesshoes)  It’s also important to remind you, because I’m not sure that you are aware, that as a white, Christian male, you have an astounding amount of privilege, and your religion is privileged.

So it is understandable, but not forgiveable, that you feel threatened by minority groups demanding their rights.  Whenever privilege is challenged, people tend to feel threatened.  I get that, because as a white, middle-class woman, I have to check my privilege when interacting with those of our community who are not white, and/or middle-class (and that’s just the simple form).

The real thing that bugs me Mr Shaw, is not that you exercised your privilege to talk down to a man who declared that he wanted the freedom to love who he chose, but that you completely and utterly failed to remember what Jesus told you.  Having to remind you what is in the bible is rather pathetic, as I’d expect that you’d have a better grasp of it than me (an ex-Catholic now atheist), but clearly you’ve forgotten.

Same sex relationships are not mentioned all that commonly in the bible.  I know that they’re mentioned in Leviticus 18 and 20, but as Christians tend not to follow most of the edicts in Leviticus, I always remain confused why these ones remain so important – other than it allows Christians to persecute a minority group.  As the letter to Doctor Laura in the US points out – Christians tend not to follow any other parts of Leviticus:

The key to this essay is its premise, not the pedantic details of it of how it is defended. Simply put, the letter points out a logical flaw in the “homosexuality is wrong because the Bible says so” argument: if homosexuality is wrong because it goes against God’s law as outlined in the Bible, why aren’t any number of activities now viewed as innocuous but once regarded as unacceptable also offenses against God’s law? How can one part of Leviticus be deemed as etched in stone when other parts have been discarded as archaic?

The essay completes with the sarcastic rejoinder, “Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.” While this is presented as a rebuke meant for just one, it is a general reminder that many belief systems pick and choose their way through Biblical teachings in determining what is right and what is wrong, with those assessments changing over time even within sects that pride themselves on strict adherence to the Good Book. (

Jesus also failed to mention same sex relationships, even though Rome occupied Israel at the time, and even though there are hints that some of the people he interacted with while he was here were gay.

And I feel I also have to remind you, as I have reminded many Christians that I’ve written about or to in my blog, there are several important bible versus, uttered by Jesus, that your letter to Mr Quilligan indicates may have slipped your mind.  So let me remind you:

1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5 NIV)


34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35 NIV)

Your response was judgemental and lacked love.  I want you to apologise properly.  I want you to admit you hurt Mr Quilligan and your LBGTIQ constituents.  I want you to retreat from public and resign your Ministry.  I want you to think seriously about how you treat your fellow citizens, your neighbours, and those who are not the same as you.  I’d really like you to go away and listen to your LBGTIQ constituents and hear their stories, because bigotry like yours causes serious harm, and results in harm done to LGBTIQ individuals, and higher rates of suicides amongst our community.  These things are not acceptable, and it is time for you to recognise that those who are LGBTIQ are not lesser members of society, but just like everyone else, fully participating, fully realised and full members of our society.


Rebecca Dominguez


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2 thoughts on “An open letter to Geoff Shaw and the Victorian Liberal Party”

  1. Beatutiful piece, but, sadly, I think you are flogging a dead horse here. Mr Shaw’s church, Peninsula City, is affilliated with the Watoto pentecostal church in Uganda and sends missionaries there, as does Hillsong

    “Stoking the fires of gay hate in Uganda has been Scott Lively, of California’s Abiding Truth Ministries. His book, the Pink Swastika, theorises that homosexuals were the driving force behind Germany’s Nazi atrocities. Meeting organiser was Stephen Langa, a Watoto Church elder.”
    “While not alone, Watoto is at the forefront of the anti-gay movement in Uganda. Stephen Langa, an elder at Watoto and the head of the Family Life Network, produced a March conference on homosexuality in Uganda and at least two of the sessions were held at the church. He then pressed the government “to enact stringent laws against the practice,” an article in New Vision, a Ugandan newspaper, paraphrased him saying.

    David Bahati, a member of Uganda’s Parliament, has since introduced legislation that would punish gay men and lesbians with the death penalty or life in prison in some cases, though the government has suggested the harshest provision could be removed. The bill requires doctors, priests, and others to report homosexuals to police. Skinner has said nothing about the bill or at least nothing that has been reported in Uganda’s press. But the pastor has influence in Uganda.”

    Gary Skinner is from Hillsong

    Mr Shaw must choose – his virulenty homophobic church, or his parliamentary career. He cannot have both

  2. Despite claiming to have the personal guidance of an omniscience supernatural entity, some religious people seem to be incredibly ill informed. I refer to the common assertion that homosexuality is a ‘lifestyle choice’.
    Nothing could be further from the truth.

    We are all born into a range of physical, emotional and sexual attributes over which we have absolutely no control.
    Sexual orientation is not a lifestyle choice.

    Holding religious belief, on the other hand is a lifestyle choice.
    Religious people choose to be religious.
    Some religious people also choose to be bigots.

    So why should one person who has control over their lifestyle choice, their religion, be given the right to discriminate against another person on the basis of an attribute over which they have no control, their sexual orientation?

    That seems very unfair to me?

    We are all born atheists, it is not a choice, it is the natural default position. So again why should someone who has made a lifestyle choice, to follow a religion, have the right to discriminate against another person on the basis of not having made that same choice?

    Further why should someone who has chosen to be religious have the privilege of tax-payer funding to promote their particular lifestyle choice in schools that are secular?

    That also seems very unfair to me?

    The obvious contradiction is if this supernatural entity is so omnipotent why then do the entities religious followers need such special treatment?

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