Filed under queer

Equal love

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Today marks the sixth anniversary of the passage of the Marriage Amendment Bill 2004, the legislation that enshrined in Australian law the definition of marriage as being between “one man and one woman.” Australia’s DOMA.

The anniversary will be marked by rallies in all the capital cities and a number of regional centres (details), and it’s heartening to see support for equal marriage rights growing in Australia day by day.

Six years ago, when the Howard government introduced, and the Latham opposition immediately supported, this legislation, Brent and I were planning our own wedding, which took place in Canada later that year. I wrote a cranky blog post and very cranky letter to the editor at the time.

Brent and I were the first gay couple we knew to tie the knot. In those days, gay marriage was legal in The Netherlands, Belgium, and a handful of Canadian Provinces. Since then Argentina, the rest of Canada, Iceland, Mexico, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and five US States have all legalised same-sex marriage. Finland, Slovenia, Luxembourg and Nepal are all committed to legalisation in the near future, and the subject is being energetically debated in many other countries. Same-sex marriage is a global phenomenon, and an unstoppable force.

I’ve been impressed by the degree to which this has become a political issue during the current election campaign. Julia Gillard has been asked repeatedly to explain her party’s position on same-sex marriage, and she has squibbed it every time. The ALP’s position on same-sex marriage (they’re against it, but for state-based “relationship registries”, as long as there’s no ceremony and no-one uses the ‘m’ word) is unsustainable within a party that claims to be progressive, and the party should adopt a more open-minded position. Unfortunately the ALP is scared witless of the political muscle of the Catholic Church and a few other religious minorities. That’s a disgraceful position for a party that claims to be socially progressive, and it partly explains the haemorrhaging of support to the Greens.

Julia Gillard could articulate a more open position on this issue, without unduly scaring the horses. She could acknowledge that it is an issue, for a start, instead of robotically chanting that ‘one man, one woman’ shibboleth. She could affirm that there will be no change in the short term, but espouse a personal belief that change will come when the nation – and the party – is ready. She could suggest we have a national debate on the issue over the coming term, and to develop a legislative response based on that. She could end the hateful and mean-spirited policy that prevents the issuing of ‘certificates of non-impediment to marry’ for same-sex couples intending marriage overseas. Or she could grow a pair and just say what we all know she, and Penny Wong, and probably most of the ALP party room, believes.

In the meantime the voices for same-sex marriage grow stronger and the arguments against it become ever more ineffective. We will win this – we have justice on our side; and a day will come when my Canadian marriage certificate will be recognised in my own country. In the meantime, my love and admiration goes out to all the hard-working queers who are keeping this issue on the agenda, organising the rallies, writing the petitions, fighting the good fight for equality and human rights.

See you at the rally.

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At least she’s consistent

Julia Gillard, last night on the 7 PM Project:

The night before on Q&A:

At a press conference on 2 August:

At least she’s consistent – consistently useless. Interesting to see how similar the answers were on the last two nights: she’s well drilled.

Gillard’s repeated argument that “there are a variety of community views on this topic” doesn’t hold water – the fact that some troglodytes in the Labor Party aren’t in favour of gay marriage does not justify perpetuating discrimination and unequal treatment. The ALP should discover some conviction about this issue and at least open the issue up for debate instead of constantly closing it down with this unsustainable, empty, unimaginative nonsense.

Until Gillard finds a way of answering this question in a more inclusive and open way, she will continue to fall in respect within the LGBT community.

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Julia on gay marriage

Julia had a press conference today. Julia said she’d decided it was time for us to see the “real” Julia, instead of the fake Julia the campaign managers have been forcing her to be. Julia wants us to see the differences between her and Tony Abbott. A journalist asked Julia her views on same-sex marriage. Julia – the “real” Julia, the Julia that wants us to know she’s different to Tony Abbott – said she has exactly the same point of view and the same party policy as Tony Abbott.

http://www.youtube.com/v/o7h15h6P370

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Sex workers protest at AIDS 2010

A noisy, colourful protest today at the International AIDS Conference by sex worker activists highlighting the impacts of US government policies and those of the President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief on sex workers in Africa.

From Research for Sex Work, Issue 10 (July 2008):

US funding restrictions applied to anti-trafficking and HIV- prevention monies have cowed many service providers and implementing agencies. Furthermore, the requirement that one-third of US HIV-prevention funding be spent on abstinence programming has directed funding toward faith- based organisations (FBOs), most of which have little if any experience with HIV-prevention, and away from evidence- based, proven-effective HIV-prevention. Sex workers are hard hit by these restrictions, and the effects hurt not just sex workers but everyone in their communities. Sex workers had mixed feelings about the reauthorization of PEPFAR because of these restrictions. While PEPFAR offers life-saving medicines to many who would not otherwise receive it, the PEPFAR reauthorization bill included, at time of going to press, restrictions that prevent sex workers from receiving services. These restrictions promote discrimination against sex workers.

I love the way these guys stand up for themselves.

For more information about the organisers of this action and the issues behind it, visit the Global Network of Sex Work Projects.

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Gary Burns’ strange bedfellows

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Gary Burns is in the media again, this time weighing in on the outing of NSW Cabinet Minister David Campbell in a media sting that saw him secretly filmed leaving a gay sex club.

There has been a lot of debate in the media about the sting and Campbell’s subsequent resignation. Channel 7 have put up a couple of very flimsy arguments to support their decision to air the footage:

  1. David Campbell presents himself as a ‘family man’ by having photos of his wife and kids on his Christmas card. The public have the right to know the truth.
  2. There are suggestions (well, innuendoes really) that Campbell, who was Roads Minister, was at the sauna on the day of a major road snafu which left drivers stuck in traffic on the F3 for up to nine hours in April.

The response to the second point is simple. The NSW government has release comprehensive phone records that show that Campbell was in his office, overseeing the response to the emergency, as he should have been.

The first point requires a bit more analysis.

Continue reading

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You’re gay? Prove it!

(This posting goes on a bit. Sorry about that.)

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Some time ago I wrote a cranky email to Senator Chris Evans, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, in response to media reports that a Bangladeshi couple may have to have sex in front of witnesses to prove they are gay, as they had claimed on their refugee visa application.

This is the same Senator Chris Evans I wrote about last year, when I called him ‘Australia’s best immigration minister in a dozen years’.

When I heard about what these two Bangladeshi fellows were going through, I felt a bit cranky. When I read the history of the case as outlined in the published findings of the Federal Court appeal on 18 September 2009, I was incensed.

Continue reading

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The secret homophobic history of Sydney’s Anzac Memorial

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My favourite Australian building turns 75 today. On 24 November 1934, the Anzac Memorial in Sydney’s Hyde Park was officially opened. Not many people know the story of how the building’s design was altered by prudishness and homophobia.

It’s a stunning, simple and understated building that is often, and rightly, referred to as Australia’s only pure expression of Art Deco. I fell in love with the building as soon as I saw it, and when I learned more about the building while studying architecture at UNSW in the early 1980s, this deepened my appreciation.

The building was designed by architect C. Bruce Dellit (his granddaughter, Wendy Dellit, was in my year at uni) with sculptures by Rayner Hoff, who also has the distinction of being the designer of the Holden logo. Dellit’s design was the winning entry in an architectural competition, and is widely accepted as his finest work.

There is so much to love about this building. The design is classical, understated, simple and reflective. The sculptures and friezes, inside and out, are stunningly executed. The most striking is Sacrifice, the bronze, at the centre of the building.

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I have been taking visitors to see this sculpture for nearly 30 years and every one of them has been struck by the beauty and the raw emotion of the piece. A youth, deceased, lies on a shield and sword supported by a three-figured caryatid representing his mother, his sister and his wife. It’s a stark and confronting image of the tragedy of war.

And, of course, he’s naked.

The untold story is that Hoff was a gay man, and his sculptures created a scandal in unenlightened 1930s Sydney. Dellit and Hoff had to fight to see their joint vision realised, against the politically powerful (then and now) Catholic Church, who objected to the nudity. We are fortunate that the architect and sculptor got their way with Sacrifice, but unfortunately the outside of the building was never finished.

Hoff and Dellit had planned a pair of additional bronzes, one of a man and one a woman, to go on the outside of the building, on the two big plinths on the East and West sides of the building. They were also intended as nude figures.

Unfortunately the wowsers got their way and the external bronzes were never completed. Even more tragically, Hoff had actually completed the moulds for the two monumental bronzes, and these were kept in storage for some years after the building was opened, but they were eventually destroyed. All we have left are some of Hoff’s drawings.

Sydney’s Anzac memorial is one of the greatest examples of the Art Deco movement, anywhere in the world. But it is an unfinished masterpiece, and all thanks to the prudishness and homophobia of a few 1930s-era wowsers.

CC-licensed images on this post from Wikipedia

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Video Blog

This is my attempt at video blogging, made as part of a workshop at the Making Links Conference last week. It’s a response to the This is Oz anti-homophobia campaign.

Thanks to the lovely people at SYN Media for a great workshop.

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“Every time we fuck, we win”

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Image from faggotz.org, via Kellan on Facebook.

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