Heya GALE-ites, who out there is under 25 yrs old, and wants to get their opinion published in top WA news & current affairs website Wangle? ActNow is looking for young people in Australia to submit their opinion pieces about what they would change in the world.

We’d like to encourage you to submit your opinion about sexuality & gender equality, and why / how change needs to happen. If you submit your opinion to the competition, send it to us as well at info@galewa.asn.au and we’ll publish it here on the GALE(WA) blog.

WHAT: What would you change? Challenge – ActNow

WHEN: Monday 11th April – Sunday 24th May (All opinion pieces submitted to ActNow in this time are included)

WHERE: http://bit.ly/ActNow-WWYC

This is a great opportunity to get your opinion published, so take some time to put your opinion on paper and get it out there!

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An interesting change is happening in Australia, and while it may go entirely unnoticed by most – it could be the biggest catalyst in achieving equal marriage rights for sexuality & gender diverse Australians.

Late last year, the leader of the SDA (Shops, Distributive & Allied Employees Union) Joe De Bruyn urged the Gillard Government to “kill off” the issue of equal marriage. While publicly Joe appears to be just another voice in the crowd, Joe’s voice is in fact one of the most influential voices on the Labor party and the decisions they make – as noted by Annabel Crabb on ABC’s the Drum.

In the Australian Labor Party, delegates to the various State & Territory bodies that control party policy and pre-selections of candidates for State & Federal Parliaments are decided on a pro-rata basis of union members affiliated to the party, and individual members voting through local branches. Read the rest of this entry »

By Alistair Webster

“…same-sex attracted people are still not afforded legal recognition for their relationships in the same way as heterosexuals. The exclusion of gays and lesbians from the institution of marriage sends a strong message that it is OK to discriminate on the basis of sexuality.

But the introduction of same-sex marriage itself will not solve all the problems.

It won’t make the streets safer at night. It won’t decrease the extraordinary high levels of bullying in the schoolyard. It won’t stop young men (particularly) from taking their lives in rural and remote areas because of fear of discrimination. It won’t stop gays and lesbians from continuing to feel threatened by the popular use of the term ‘gay’ in a pejorative sense; as a synonym for ‘shit’, ‘crap’ or worse.

Overcoming these things is about more than just obliterating prejudice from our political and social institutions. It’s about obliterating it from our behaviour, our language and from our hearts and our minds. We cannot rely on government to do this. We must do it ourselves.”

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

Hi Everyone! Happy New Year!

Well, it seems that all those pesky New Years resolutions that we made last December in a fit of over-optimistic enthusiasm are now looking to be fulfilled, Gay and Lesbian Equality has every intention of living up to our resolution and motto of ‘Nothing Less than Full Equality’ in 2011.

This year is set to be an extremely busy one, and potentially the start of something quite historic. The National Australian Labor Party conference takes place in December of this year, and if community members, activists and GLBTI advocates are successful in getting enough support within the ALP to change the party’s policy on same-sex marriage – there is a good chance that it may well finally result in the 2004 Marriage Ban being repealed, and a major obstacle to full equality being removed.

We have also recently seen New South Wales introduce anti-bullying programs into highschools that target homophobia and transphobia, as well as educating young people about the effects of abuse and harassment on the basis of sexuality or gender-identity. GALE will be campaigning for the introduction of similar measures in Western Australia.

But, for any of this to happen – we need your help.

Following Adam Bandt’s successful motion in the Senate last year, Federal Members of Parliament have been instructed to consult their constituents regarding their stance on GLBTI issues, such as same-sex marriage, discrimination, adoption and family matters, as well as issues relating to trans* and gender-diverse Australians.

As you may know, we still have considerable opposition to Equality by a minority of powerful and well resourced organisations that consider only their version of ‘family’ or ‘marriage’ to be deserving of respect or acknowledgement. Therefore, it is vital that there is a strong and vocal show of support from the majority of community members that do support equal rights for GLBTI Australians and their families.

So – What can you do to help?  Well – there are a few things to choose from:

Contact Your Local Member

Write a letter, send an email or make a phone call to tell them how you feel about GLBTI equality. Better yet, schedule an appointment to meet them in person at their office. They are elected to represent you, and should make the time to hear what you have to say.

Click HERE to find out which electorate you live in

Click HERE for a full list of contact details for your Member in the House of Representatives

Click HERE for a full list of contact details for all the WA Senators

Use the Media

The media is both a means by which policy makers will judge the prevalent community attitudes, as well as a way to get the message out to others Either by contributing a letter to the editor (or an newspaper/magazine article if you have that opportunity), writing or sharing a blog post, or by calling talk-back radio to voice your opinions.

Your fifteen minutes – Sign onto the GALE Media Network




GALE are often asked by both local and national media to recommend same-sex and/or gender-diverse families and individuals to journalists who are chasing stories to do with GLBTI law reform or events. Therefore, we are always on the look-out for non-camera shy people that are happy to be featured in media coverage of relevant stories.

We are especially interested in couples that wish to marry, GLBTI families with children, as well as young people of diverse sexuality and gender, as we will be focusing strongly on relationship recognition, trans/gender issues and homo/transphobia in education.

Click here to register for the Media Contact List.

Join us!

The best thing that you can do to help instigate change, is to get involved directly.  GALE is always looking for new and dynamic people to add to our committee to contribute their

ideas, skills and experience. Help us create campaigns, organise events and maintain our working relationships with the public and policy makers.

e-mail  info@galewa.asn.au  or head over to th e info section of the G ALE site to find out more about

joining up!

You can help both GALE and your community by telling your story and making sure that our voices are heard and acknowle dged by the public, and by policy makers.  2011 has some pretty interesting times, and some tough demands ahead for GLBTI reform – but with a little help from our friends, I think that our New Years Resolutions are achievable after all.

Kitty Hawkins

Gay and Lesbian Equality Co-Convenor.

kitty@galewa.asn.au

To kick off 2010 for the community involved in working towards sexuality & gender equality in WA, this post has been written to provide a review and analysis of our work last year – for which we would love your comments & opinions. This post will be followed by an entry from GALE’s 2010 Convenor Kitty Hawkins, introducing the next steps in our campaign for 2011 – informed by this review.

Shane Cucow

Shane C - Community Networks Coordinator

This will also be my last post as a member of the campaigns team at GALE, as I’m moving to Sydney this February to work with the Inspire Foundation, and on the national lobbying effort in which GALE will be taking part. It has been an inspiration and a blast being a part of the action, and I believe 2011 will be GALE’s biggest ever year. Thank you everyone for being a part of this movement for equality!

 

Read the rest of this entry »

To all of our followers,

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support and contributions this year, and to wish you a relaxed and joyful festive season.

This year has been the most exciting year for gay & lesbian equality that WA has seen in a very long time. In just one year, we have seen more action for equality by community members than any year since the decriminalisation of homosexuality – and more coverage of issues affecting people of diverse sexuality & gender as a result. For us, it has been truly inspiring to watch.

Because of your support for the Federal Election campaign actions such as Rubbish for Rights and 50 Letters in 5 Days, as well as your participation in the online & offline promotion of sexuality & gender equality, we have achieved many great things – in collaboration with community members all over Australia. With your help, we held the biggest ever rally for sexuality equality since the 2002 reforms, right before the Federal Election – making same-sex marriage the unavoidable issue of the election.

We made the issue of marriage equality so powerful that despite opposition from the two major parties, many prominent Labor MPs have come out in support of equal marriage (including Senator Mark Abib, and Penny Wong, Minister for Finance & Deregulation). Several State & Territory branches of the Labor Party have moved motions urging the Federal Labor Party to allow equal marriage – including the Northern Territory and South Australian Branch. Beyond that, movement has been made by several States to introduce same-sex marriage on a State Level. And just weeks ago, Greens MP Adam Bandt’s motion to ask ministers to consult their electorates on same-sex marriage and other issues was successful, urging members to ask you what you think about these issues.

Beyond marriage equality, there have been great achievements this year, because of consistent community pressure. The Government has committed significant increases in funding to suicide prevention, and recognised the need for targeted suicide prevention initiatives for sexuality & gender diverse young people. Additionally, after significant submissions by community members, the Human Rights Commission was also asked to consult with the community and draft Federal anti-discrimination legislation for sexuality & gender diversity, with legislation likely to be introduced early in the new year. Significantly, the Government also began looking into the Human Right’s Commission’s Sex Files report on how to achieve gender identity recognition & equality, and is likely to announce it’s actions on the report next year.

Because of you, we were able to achieve these great steps towards a fair go for people of diverse sexuality and gender.

What happens next?

Gay & Lesbian Equality (WA) are planning a big year next year. We expect to see action in WA parliament on issues such as relationship recognition and gender identity recognition. We also expect to see further progress in the national campaign for equal marriage rights and anti-discrimination legislation. And to pull it off, we’re going to need your voices, and your support.

We’ll be in touch early in the new year, with an a new campaign action happening in January to get the ball rolling on the road to equality.

Don’t forget to send your Christmas Card for Equality!

Your local member heads home for the Festive Season at the end of this week. Be sure to send your Christmas Card asking for equality by tomorrow, to ensure they receive it before they go!


Thank you for your participation and contributions in this year’s inspirational campaign for a fair go.

Wishing you a peaceful festive season.

Kitty, Shane, Matt, Andrew, Ozzie & Daniel

Gay & Lesbian Equality (WA)

This Friday the 26th November marks the end of the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Consultation into Discrimination on the basis of sexuality and gender identity.

Unlike State and Territory laws, at present there is little in the way of protection of people of diverse sexuality and gender against discrimination on a Federal level. The Human Rights Commission is seeking submissions from members of the public relating to what needs to be changed.

For more information on the background of the consultation and the need for Federal protection from discrimination, you can read the Commission’s Discussion paper here:

Gay and Lesbian Equality have made the following suggestions to the Commission:

i)               That Discrimination on the basis of gender and sexuality be prohibited by Federal law.

ii)             That religious organisations (such as charities, private schools and churches) not be exempt from such legislation.

iii)            That this legislation applies to GLBTI individuals, as well as to couples and families.

iv)            That protection from discrimination on the basis of gender-identity extends to people at all stages of transition, rather than just to those that have had sex re-assignment surgery.

v)             That the Commission recognises the negative impact that discrimination has upon the mental health of GLBTI Australians.

vi)            That the Commission include vilification and incitement of hatred or violence as discriminatory behaviour, and unacceptable.

Once the commission is over, a report will be compiled which will make recommendations to the Government regarding whether Australia needs federal protection from discrimination for people of diverse sexuality and gender identity. It is important that the consultation receives as many submissions as possible from people that support anti-discrimination legislation, as there will be many submissions from organisations that oppose these .

Please take some time to make a submission before midnight on Friday 26th November.

Submissions to the consultation can be made here:

Or you can email the Human Rights Commission on lgbti@humanrights.gov.au

Christmas is traditionally a time for giving, for peacemaking and for the wearing of excessively silly hats. It’s the one time of year when we are supposedly meant to reconcile our differences and have the graces to accept one another as we are. As to why peace-on-earth and ‘goodwill toward all’ isn’t applicable year-round is anathema to me (maybe it’s difficult to be altruistic when not dazzled by the glow of vulgar window displays at Myers) – but, in the interest of the silly season I’m willing to put aside my Grinch-like cynicism and share the love.

And what better way to uphold the very principal of ‘goodwill to all ’ by extending dignity and respect to all within the community? Since Christmas is supposedly a time of graciousness, forgiveness and peace – the tofu-eating, enya-listening hippy pacifist in me thinks that it is now more than ever that we should take the opportunity to engage and to connect with those that would otherwise seek either to ignore, or to actively discriminate against us. So it is in that spirit that I write that Gay and Lesbian Equality will shortly be announcing our Christmas Cards for Equality Campaign.

Those of you following the news of late may know of the success of Greens MP Adam Bandt’s Motion within the Lower House that will require Labor MPs to seek their constituent’s views on marriage and other issues affecting Australians of diverse sexuality and gender. Advocates for equality within and supporting the GLBTI community have now been given a golden opportunity to have their voices heard. We at GALE intend to do exactly that – but this time with a festive, fabulous flair!

We’re asking supporters of equality to write Christmas cards to Federal Labor MPs expressing their feelings about discrimination on the basis of sexuality and gender-identity, including marriage, mental health, trans* issues and so on. Doesn’t have to be anything fancy or long-winded – just a simple and honest statement about why Labor needs to change its discriminatory and outdated policies relating to marriage. It’s too easy to ignore and delete e-mails – so this instance Christmas cards are perfect, because they physically take up space that someone actually has to go through and open, and because they are a part of the festive tradition.

Because it’s a difficult thing to keep track of, GALE will be designing special Facebook avatars and Twitter campaign ribbons (or ‘Twibbons’) for members who have sent Christmas greetings to their MPs and want to encourage others to do the same. We will also include details of who to contact and how on the Christmas Cards for Equality section of the GALE website at www.galewa.asn.au

For this we will need as much help and enthusiasm as we can get in our effort to send a strong, yet festive message to our elected members, because if you can’t ask for help at Christmas, when can you eh?

Wishing you safe, happy (and ever so slightly decadent) holidays

Kitty Hawkins,

GALE WA Co-Convenor

 

Your voice is important

Posted: November 18, 2010 by Shane Cucow in Action Alerts
Tags: , , , ,

Your voice is important – Can you help?

The Labor party has just announced that they will be lending their support to a motion by Greens MP Adam Bandt, which will require politicians to canvas the views of their electorate on same-sex marriage and other issues affecting people of diverse sexuality and gender.

Read more about the announcement here:  http://bit.ly/cptO7s

Now, more than any other time, politicians will have a direct reason to think about the issues affecting same-sex attracted and gender diverse people. It is vital that the voices they hear are yours.

We need your help, to show these politicians the real community support for same-sex marriage, mental health funding, and gender identity recognition in Australian law. Too often the vocal minority of those opposed to a fair go are the loudest voices heard.

Please take a couple of minutes to express you personal views and experience, using the GetUP! online tool to find and email your local MP:

http://www.getup.org.au/campaign/1369&id=1460

Thankyou for taking the time to get the real voice of the community heard!

Warm regards,

Shane Cucow

Gay & Lesbian Equality (WA)


With the next National Day of Action for Equal Marriage rapidly approaching on November sixth, the issue of the much needed reform will be soaking up yet more time in the media sunshine. This will be especially true given that South Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hansen-Young’s Private Member’s Bill to legalise same- sex marriage is set for a third attempt in the Senate. The bill was voted down previously in June 2009 and then again in February of this year.

There’s been a lot of talk within the GLBTI activist community regarding the need for a conscience vote on same-sex marriage. That is, the ability for members to vote according to their own conscience or their own beliefs rather than along official party lines.

Lately, the issue of a conscience vote on Equal Marriage seems to be very much in vogue amongst GLBTI advocacy groups, as well as several progressive policy makers. Independent MP Andrew Wilke only last week called upon the Prime Minister to allow for a vote of this nature.

Given that both major parties have expressed (ad nauseum) that neither support granting equal marriage rights to same-sex and gender-diverse couples, some believe allowing those in power to demonstrate their opposition to the 2004 ban on same-sex marriage through a conscience vote would greatly boost the chances of the bill being passed, thus repealing the discriminatory law.

Or would it?

Much of the campaign literature that has been put out to the public regarding the need for a conscience vote quite correctly states that up to 62% of Australia’s population support Equal Marriage, and 78% also support a conscience vote on the issue. This is undeniably true – and given these figures one would also assume that it is not only fair, but also in the interests of democracy that our elected members be able to reflect and represent the views of their public.

But, what we’re missing here is that public opinion is only one of many competing concerns when discussing a conscience vote. It’s more the views of the members themselves that we need to be worried about.

The State of the Australian Labor Party

While there has been an avalanche of support in recent years for Marriage Equality, as well as a growing movement within the ALP to change the laws, the levels of support within the parliamentary party is still nail-bitingly close. At present, it is nearly impossible to predict which members of the ALP would support the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill and which members will not – any evidence of support that we have at present are at best unreliable and is generally no better than sheer speculation . There is a good deal more than just ideology at play here: For some, it is likely not to be a particularly high priority.

It is also important to remember that there is still considerable influence from the right of Labor as well as some of the more traditionally conservative unions not to change the status quo. Indeed, is it not peculiar that the Prime Minister, a left-leaning atheist who herself has faced criticism for not fitting the traditional ‘family’ image, doesn’t support equal marriage? The likely justification for Gillard’s recalcitrance on the marriage issue is due to her desire to not cause controversy with the religious conservatives in the party – and a good deal of that comes down not only to Labor itself, but to its voters;

As infuriating as it is, some equality agnostic’s fear the loss of support from key constituents by the introduction of such a controversial bill, especially one that may lead to deep divisions and rifts within the parliamentary team.

Solidarity

Another thing to take into account when considering Labor’s internal decision making process is the concept of solidarity; a principle that harks back to the party’s working-class, union roots. The very act of supporting a colleague and standing together in unity is of significant importance to many in the ALP. A conscience vote would break the loyalty and solidarity that parliamentarians have with their colleagues – something that would go against the culture of the party. In fact, to date the only thing that the ALP has allowed a conscience vote on is where an issue deals with life and death issues; namely abortion and euthanasia. It is likely that, even in the (highly unlikely) chance of a conscience vote being achieved, many Labor MPs would still feel obliged to vote along internal factional lines and many may wish not to stand out in the belief that doing so may make the government look divided in a time when a lot is riding on the image of a stable government.

The dangers of a third rejection of the bill

In simple and plain terms the situation can be summarised thus : A conscience vote will be next to impossible to achieve, and even if, by some obscenely small chance that it is agreed to by both major parties – the levels of support for it from individuals within Parliament is not reliable or even known to ensure a victory. Even if both of the major parties allowed a conscience vote on the marriage bill, the minimal if non-existent support from the Liberals combined with the fact that Labor would not have the numbers on their own to see safe passage of the bill would mean likely defeat. If a conscience vote was allowed it would likely split the Labor party and it is extremely unlikely that proponents of marriage equality would gain enough stray votes from the Liberal party (or even independents) to replace the lost votes from Labor.

Now, before you begin frothing at the mouth and accusing me of being a nihilistic buzz-kill, let me explain my apparent over-caution: Senator Hanson-Young’s bill has twice been introduced and debated within less than two years, a third failure may be pounced upon by opponents of the Bill as an opportunity to dismiss it well into the future as being frivolous and a waste of time. Given the amount of other items that are competing for time on Parliament floor, having Sarah Hansen-Young’s Bill reintroduced for a fourth time will prove to be extremely difficult.

For those who believe that failure only makes us stronger, that we can “fail forward” need only to look back to the Australian Republic debate and the last decade where this issue has suffered being exiled to political oblivion. If a conscience vote was allowed and the bill was to inevitably fail as it likely would currently, we would end up giving away a precedent that in it may be the cause of the marriage equality debate to falter yet again in the future. In that situation, every time the issue would come up in parliament, opponents would demand (and probably automatically get) a conscience vote, which may potentially lead to a vicious cycle of failure for this issue. We simply cannot afford to be reloading our opponent’s weapons with such political ammunition.

Frankly, this issue means far too much to me – and I daresay to a sizeable proportion of the GLBTI community and our allies as well – for it to be tossed out in such a manner. If we are to have a sustainable campaign that delivers what we need, we cannot afford to be distracted by red herrings. My suggestion? Our focus should not be at Gillard, at high ranking ALP members or to the Cabinet at all. We need to set our sights lower and wider, with one very clear objective: Changing ALP policy at the grass roots level.

Changing the party policy

Given that the party almost always votes according to party policy – surely our efforts should be directed not at trying to dissuade them from adhering to dyed-in-the-wool traditions and policies, but rather to build consensus in supporting and actually implementing marriage equality?

If the national policy of the Labor Party is changed in this manner, then all members of Parliament will be required to vote in favour of it – so when the issue is presented, there will be an entire Party’s worth of support for it –far more reliable the result of a conscience vote. What we need here is to build a strong consensus within the party that will deliver a bona fide result, not a reckless exercise of blind faith.

The way to change ALP Party Policy is at their national party conference, which should be in 2011. This means that we have just under a year in which to build a strong and pragmatic campaign to change Labor’s policy on marriage. We need to be targeting unions, student organisations, parliamentarians, Labor members and supporters – basically anyone in and around the ALP who will be willing to help take the issue to conference. I have a feeling that the good people at Rainbow Labor are going to have their work cut out for them, but they are going to need all the help they can get. And that’s where we, the community come in.

It is very easy to pin one’s hopes on what looks like an easy and immediate solution to inequality, and after six long years of disappointment in three different Governments the prospect of a conscience vote looks mighty promising, but in this situation, the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train. There are many well-meaning activists that are holding the conscience vote up as a holy grail, not realising precisely what a risk it might entail. There is so much passion and dedication within the community for equality – and it saddens me to think that it could potentially be wasted on tilting at windmills.

In order for us to finally achieve what we have been fighting for so long we must be able to see the big picture – and most of all we must be patient enough to recognise that if this is to be done right, it has to be done well. Reforms that are built on strong foundations are reforms that last. We need to curb our impulsiveness for just a little while longer. Equality is simply too important to be thrown away on a gamble.

Kitty Hawkins

GALE Co Convenor

(With many thanks to the small army of people that helped me edit this piece!)