Politics

Sally Rugg Patiently Endured Bigoted Men Speaking On ‘Q&A’ Last Night, And We Salute Her

"I'm not going to repeat some of Folau's words, but he made a disgusting comment about transgender children. And that comment doesn't just exist in a vacuum."

sally rugg

Last night on Q&A, a series of men decided to share long and bigoted opinions about Israel Folau’s right to write homophobic things on Instagram. Sally Rugg endured them all patiently before explaining why they’re wrong, and honestly, we salute her strength.

Rugg, if you’re unaware, is the executive director of Change.org. She’s also, as per her Twitter bio, an “enthusiastic lesbian” — a member of the LGBTIQ community Folau (and his supporters) are so intent on attacking.

And yet, even as the men around her pondered whether telling LGBTIQ people they were going to hell could be construed as an act of kindness, Rugg managed to sit calmly before coolly delivering a response that summed up everything that’s wrong with this debate.

She maintained that composure as an audience member suggested that Folau “is actually attempting to help people, to help them repent, so as to be saved, and therefore avoid hell? So that what he was doing cannot be so much classified as hate speech, but rather the opposite, and is in fact a brave act of love?”. She maintained that composure as fellow panellist insisted that the urgent issue here is the need for a religious discrimination act in Australia, to ensure that the Folaus of the world are not subject to attack for expressing homophobic beliefs.

Honestly, it’s incredible that she didn’t snap under the pressure.

And when it was finally her turn to speak, Rugg firmly, politely urged her fellow speakers to consider the impact of their words.

“I just kind of want to pause for one second, because I feel like we’ve been doing Q&A for what, four minutes now, and already we’ve had several people repeat the claims that someone like me is going to go to hell unless I repent,” she said. “Or saying something vague about me needing to be saved, and that that was an act of kindness, for someone to say that I would need to be saved.”

“I think it’s really important. You know, we kind of bandy these words around, and these ideas around, as if it’s some sort of philosophical argument, and as if these words don’t mean things, and they don’t do things.”

“I’m not going to repeat some of Folau’s words, but he made a disgusting comment about transgender children. And that comment doesn’t just exist in a vacuum, that comment exists in a reality where if you’re a teenager in Australia who’s transgender, you have a one in two chance of attempting suicide. One in two. And the words that Folau uses about gay Australians, people like me, they exist in a context where the Morrison government is currently looking at whether people really care or not that religious schools can exclude LGBT teachers and students.”

“So how do they make me feel? They make me feel a bit sick, they make me feel tired, I feel confused as to why in 2019 we’re having this sort of esoteric discussion about whether it’s really harmful for these words to just be bandied about in our society.”

Rugg also made an incredibly good point regarding calls for a religious protections act. “Protections are there to protect people,” she said. “Protections are meant to be shields. And so I wouldn’t want to see any sort of religious protection act that takes away the protective shield that anti-discrimination laws have for people like me, and the more vulnerable members of my community.”

Incredibly, despite the fact that Rugg delivered this entire speech with extraordinary calm, some publications have gone on to report that she “lashed out”, “snapped” or “let fly” during the episode. Rugg and others have since taken to Twitter to point out that this is absolutely not accurate, questioning why people are so alarmed by a woman voicing an opinion.

You can watch the clip for yourself below.