Affirmative Action, Negative Results
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Affirmative Action, Negative Results

Affirmative Action, Negative Results

In a ‘democracy’ like Australia, the will of the people cannot be long resisted. Thus, it is becoming a foregone conclusion that the University of Sydney Union (USU) and SRC will implement quota-based affirmative action (AA) for LGBT peoples. Although these measures may not be acknowledged during the term of my studies, their acceptance by the wider student body deepens. Nonetheless, I would like to articulate my opposition to these proposals. In recognising the polarising nature of this ‘issue’ and the broader affirmative action debate, I must firstly flag my utmost understanding and respect for the sentiments of those opposite me on the political spectrum.


Despite appearing just and reasonable to some, this proposal evokes both autocratic and discriminatory connotations. “Affirmative action based on quotas is wrong – wrong because it is antithetical to the genius of individual liberty” – Former Housing Secretary for the Bush Senior Administration, Jack Kemp.(bring out) The inconsistency in an individual losing their rightful reward to another simply because of their sexuality, severely endangers the significance of two key Western social foundations: meritocracy and democracy. This gradual deterioration undermines the relevance of individual responsibility and shifts the locus of political sentiment to an age of entitlement. Without reward there is no initiative. Why bother when your reward will simply be passed to another because of their sexuality? I hope these questions will prove a challenge to the warped concepts of democracy represented by the proposed reforms.


The idea that LGBT peoples should be entitled to quota-based affirmative action is excessive, unjust and personally demeaning. For a gay man or women to be elected on the sole basis of sexuality potentially contributes to the gradual destruction of social bonds. “Counting by sexuality in order to remedy past wrongs or rewarding special groups by taking from others only perpetuates and even deepens the divisions between us”.(bring out) In addition to having undesirable social side effects, this disproportionate act of ‘reverse/positive discrimination’ fundamentally fails to achieve its primary purposes. It hinders reconciliation (increase animosity), replaces old wrongs with new wrongs, undermines the achievements of minorities, and encourages individuals to identify themselves as disadvantaged, even if they are not. Moreover the process of determining the ‘legitimacy’ of candidates has the potential to open a whole new can of worms.


In summation, sexuality-based politics must be repudiated by men and women of civility and compassion. Otherwise, where will the line be drawn? Without a genuine investigation into the woefully indeterminate nature of these proposals, the criterion for the ‘disadvantaged’ might just as well extend to: those who attended a public school; those from low socioeconomic backgrounds; and those of different ethnicities. All of which become a very real prospect if these measures are implemented. discrimination by any other name is still discrimination. For the same reasons outlined above, discrimination along these lines would be wrong.


Those in favour of LGBT affirmative action have framed their case around instincts of equality and justice. Some may come to the premature conclusion that my opposition must emanate from bigotry, prejudice or the stock standard hatred of a white, straight-identifying male.Despite potentially being dismissed as ignorant and zealous by the left, I am in fact very proud of the gay rights movement and would be the first to advocate for any group whose natural rights and individual liberties were violated. However, I dismiss any proposal that would fundamentally amend and extinguish the democratic foundations and social cohesion on which this country rests. Consequently, I believe both the USU and SRC ought not to legislate this proposal, as it can only be based on a deluded presumption that there is a compatible relationship between equality and discrimination. All arguments suggesting that these two principles are congruent have so far failed to convince me. I do hope that those opposite look beyond simplistic left/right ideological warfare, and take a genuine look at the dangerously limitless nature of these measures.

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