From Equal Love to Rainbow Rebellion

Rainbow Rebellion activists on the campaign trail. Photo: Rainbow Rebellion/Facebook

Grassroots LGBTI activist group Equal Love, which was set up in Western Australia a decade ago, has re-launched itself as Rainbow Rebellion. It has since organised two rallies against the federal Coalition's proposed law to exempt religious organisations from anti-discrimination laws and hosted a panel discussion on November 5 about queer rights.

Panel speakers included Safe Schools Coalition founder Roz Ward, former Greens state MP Lynn MacLaren and Rainbow Rebellion's Jacqueline Blackburn.

Ward spoke about fierce attacks from conservative politicians and right-wing media for her role in Safe Schools and her socialist politics.

She documented the number of pages that The Australian dedicated to attacking her and the campaign to have her sacked from her university job because of a private Facebook post she made regarding the racist nature of the Australian flag.

Ward said it was the combination of her Marxist politics and inspiration from LGBTI rights rallies by organisations like Rainbow Rebellion that enabled her to keep going.

MacLaren related her personal history as an LGBTI rights campaigner, from the founding of the Campaign Against Moral Persecution to her role in the marriage equality campaign.

She recounted a moving personal story about having to leave the country to marry her fiancée, who later passed away the day same-sex marriage was legalised in Australia.

MacLaren said advances in LGBTI rights had come about due to grassroots mobilisation, and added that the fight was not over, as the same kind of mobilisations would be required to stop religious organisations being given the right to discriminate.

Blackburn focused on the state of LGBTI politics and the way forward. She said the marriage equality survey victory was due to grassroots activism and not Labor Party leaders, who only decisively came behind the cause after the campaign had swung a majority of the population to its side.

Rainbow Rebellion is planning a float for Perth's annual Pride Parade on November 30. The focus of the float will be "Putting the protest back into Pride!" as recent parades have prominently featured contingents from corporate sponsors (this year’s event is being sponsored by the climate criminal Woodside Petroleum) and WA Police.

[Jade Sobieralski is an activist with Rainbow Rebellion.]