As entertaining as the GOP race has become, nothing repulsed me more this week than Australian politician Bob Katter’s homophobic ad, which aimed to attack his opponent Campbell Newman, head of the Liberal National Party of Queensland. In an interesting twist, Carl Katter, Representative Katter’s gay half-brother, responded publicly and has now decided to release a commercial to counter his brother’s ad. While familial disagreements in politics are usually petty, the Katters' feud is one of substance and not only is Carl Katter right to speak out against his brother, but their blood relation may aid him in his goal to achieve equality.
Representative Bob Katter is known for being an unabashed social conservative, and this ad was not the first time he spoke out against homosexuality in an offensive and degrading manner. He has stated publicly that the proposition of marriage equality should be “laughed at and ridiculed,” and even began a campaign to reclaim the word gay, to end its use as a synonym for homosexual. On these and several other occasions, his half-brother Carl Katter has responded to his brother’s malicious comments, but no response has been quite like his most recent rebuttal. To rebuke Representative Katter’s homophobic ad, which implies that marriage equality is a threat to family values, Carl Katter teamed up with activist group GetUp to make his own commercial.
As a concerned and politically active Australian citizen, Katter has every right to defend his sexuality – in truth, the fact that Representative Katter is his half-brother is more to his advantage. Katter’s actions seem to be more moving, and command more attention, precisely because he is related to Representative Katter. While it may seem counterintuitive, if his goal is to promote equality and tolerance, then speaking against his own brother may be his most effective tool. Let’s be honest, bloggers and activists call attention to these issues constantly, but often have a difficult time making them well-known. Mr. Katter’s voice, however, carries much more weight as he is challenging his brother, thus making the story more appealing to others and drawing a significant amount attention to the Representative’s homophobia.
Representative Bob Katter’s intolerance and spiteful rhetoric is the real threat, and his brother deserves praise for his desire to create a more equitable Australia, even if that means perpetuating the tension in his family. Being no stranger to political disagreements among family members myself, I can testify to the importance of having and defending one’s opinions as it creates healthy and constructive discussion.
If Carl Katter continues his work against Rep. Katter's Australian Party and for equality, he and other activists may be able to create a more tolerant Australia.
Photo Credit: The Australian