Farida Iqbal

Amber Maxwell was a great activist. She was one of the most dedicated young cadres of the Socialist Alternative Perth branch, and a co-convener of Equal Love WA. She committed suicide on August 24. She was 20 years old. I consider myself lucky that for a year and a half I worked with her in the queer struggle. I considered her a comrade and I cared about her.
Britain’s House of Commons voted in favour of equal marriage rights on February 5. France’s lower house approved a bill for equal marriage rights on February 12. If these bills make it the rest of the way through their respective parliaments, Britain and France will join the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Massachusetts, Spain, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina and Denmark in having equal marriage rights.
The shale gas industry-commissioned white paper, The Global Anti-Fracking Movement: What it Wants, How it Operates and What’s Next, makes for some very interesting reading. It was produced late last year by Control Risks, an “independent, global risk consultancy specialising in helping organisations manage political, integrity and security risks in complex and hostile environments”.
The campaign for marriage equality in Australia has been waged for almost a decade. That federal parliament, despite repeated polls showing support for equal marriage rights regardless of sexuality, has failed to legislate for marriage equality has caused widespread anger. A sign of the growing momentum for marriage equality came with the announcement at the Tasmanian state Labor conference on August 4 that the Labor-led Tasmanian government would aim to pass legislation this year to legalise same-sex marriage in the state, should federal parliament fail to do so.
Despite heavy police intimidation and media racism, the Nyoongar Tent Embassy at Matagarup, otherwise known as Heirisson Island in Perth, is still standing strong. The Tent Embassy was founded by local Aboriginal people to voice dissent against a proposed deal with the state government that would include giving up native title rights. The embassy is also about asserting Aboriginal sovereignty. Embassy participant Iva Hayward-Jackson told  Green Left Weekly  the embassy is about asserting Nyoongar sovereignty and protecting sacredness of Aboriginal culture.
The WA state government finally rejected Vasse Coal’s proposal for a coal mine in Margaret River on February 7. The mine would have been built 15 kilometres from the town centre, directly beneath the river. Margaret River residents came out in force to oppose the proposal, as it posed a direct threat to water supply, biodiversity and air quality. Margaret River’s two main industries, agriculture and tourism, depend on the environmental health of the region.
Australian energy company Santos has met determined resistance to its coal seam gas operations in Australia. It is less well known that Santos was one of the companies responsible for a monumental environmental catastrophe in Indonesia in 2006. The accident drowned villages in the Porong subdistrict of Sidoarjo in mud, and displaced up to 50,000 people.
A “controlled burn” by the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) got way out of control in south-west Western Australia on November 23, turning into a raging bushfire that destroyed thirty homes and was still not under control days later. Suburbs affected include Gnarabup and Prevelly. Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes.
Australia’s south-west is the only part of the country internationally recognised as a biodiversity hotspot. It is also a major agricultural area. The south-west town Margaret River is one of the country’s primary wine producing regions and a major tourist destination.
Australia introduced new rules on September 15 allowing people to nominate their gender as male, female or indeterminate on their passport. Sex reassignment surgery is no longer a precondition for nominating a passport gender different from the one on your birth certificate.
Margaret River, a town on the southwest coast of Australia, is an important agricultural area, supporting olive farms, dairies and livestock. It attracts tourists from all over the country eager to check out its famous beaches, forests, artists and wineries. But residents were shocked when news surfaced in July that a proposed coalmine will be built just 15 kilometres from the town centre.
The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has delayed its decision on the controversial new coalmine proposed for Margaret River in Western Australia. The EPA decision was expected early January. Yet it has chosen to give the mining company LD Operations more time to provide more information. The EPA chairperson is now expected to make a decision at the end of February.
The Australian National University’s (ANU) sexuality department not only provides an invaluable support service to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer students on campus (LGBTIQ), it is also unashamedly political. For example, it has thrown its weight behind the campaign for equal marriage rights. So perhaps it is not surprising that the department has been challenged by homophobia on campus. In May during Pride Week, 500 posters were ripped down.
The Australian National University’s (ANU) sexuality department not only provides an invaluable support service to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer students on campus (LGBTIQ), it is also unashamedly political. For example, it has thrown its weight behind the campaign for equal marriage rights. So perhaps it is not surprising that the department has been challenged by homophobia on campus. In May during Pride Week, 500 posters were ripped down.
In the lead-up to the 2004 federal election, legislation was passed against marriage rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people. The 2004 marriage ban became the catalyst for the development of a powerful protest movement. This movement has won a series of important victories. These include the repeal of 85 pieces of federal legislation discriminating against same-sex couples, but not the repeal of the discriminatory marriage ban. Recognition of civil unions has been won in the ACT, after a five-year struggle.
On August 14, rallies will take place in 13 different cities around Australia for the sixth annual national day of action for equal marriage rights. Last year’s national day of action drew more than 10,000 people, making it the biggest demonstration for queer rights in Australian history. The movement has claimed 2010 as its “national year of action”. Activists have taken some colourful initiatives to build this year’s rally. Sydney’s Community Action Against Homophobia threw eggs at cardboard cut-outs of Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard.

Pages

Subscribe to Farida Iqbal