Farida Iqbal

“The right of self-determination is important because it’s part of the pure principle of democracy”, Jacob Rumbiak, foreign affairs co-ordinator of the West Papua National Authority (WPNA), explained to Green Left Weekly during the national conference of the Australia West Papua Association (AWPA) on September 13-14.
On September 4, the federal Labor government introduced a bill in parliament to partially end discrimination against same-sex couples.
Refugee activists have welcomed the July 29 announcement by federal immigration minister Chris Evans to significantly dismantle Australia’s policy of mandatorily detaining refugees. They noted, however, that while the changes represent an important victory for the movement for refugee rights, the struggle is not yet over.
The federal Labor government says it is not homophobic. Yet it agrees with its Coalition predecessor that marriage is a “union between a man and woman”. Regardless of opinion on marriage, the legal rights afforded this institution should be available to all couples regardless of gender.
“[On] the question of [civil unions] legislation … it’s always been our view, as the Labor Party, [that] that lies properly within the prerogative of the states, and that remains our position.” This was then opposition leader, now PM, Kevin Rudd’s view quoted by ABC News on December 7. It was a promise that, unlike the Howard Coalition government, federal Labor would not overturn civil unions legislation in the ACT.
In an interview with Melbourne’s Joy FM on April 24 ACT chief minister Jon Stanhope announced he intended to pass the ACT Civil Partnerships Bill through the Legislative Assembly before the October 18 territory election.
On February 2, 150 people rallied in support of same-sex civil unions in the Australian Capital Territory, demanding the restoration of the original version of the ACT civil unions act, which included the right to hold an official ceremony and the right for non-ACT residents to obtain a civil union certificate.
Following the election of the new federal Labor government, ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope announced that a third attempt would be made to introduce same-sex civil unions in the ACT. Legislation currently before the ACT Legislative Assembly will be voted on early next year.
Resistance is an active, campaigning organisation. We’re in there where the struggle is. We don’t just talk about standing up for the oppressed. We actually do it. Recently, we met members of the Burmese community in Canberra at a series of protests outside the Burmese embassy. When we met them, we naturally wanted to jump into the struggle right there alongside them. We were involved in the first meeting of the Canberra Network for Democracy in Burma (CNDB), and helped organise the protest on October 13 for the international day of solidarity with the Burmese struggle.
Three years on from the passage of the federal ban on same-sex marriage, people have not given up on fighting back. Around 3000 people protested nationwide during an August 12 national day of action calling for same-sex marriage rights, civil unions and adoption rights.
When US President George Bush comes to Sydney this year, it will be vital that we use his visit to draw attention to the ongoing struggle for same-sex marriage rights and an end to all homophobic policies. PM John Howard and Bush top the list of threats to civil liberties, including some of the most basic rights queers are still fighting for.
On June 2, 1975, sex workers in Lyon, France, occupied a church for two months, an action that inspired the contemporary sex-worker rights movement. On June 2 this year, 60 sex workers and supporters held a demonstration at Circular Quay to protest against the NSW parliament’s passage of the Brothels Legislation Amendment Act. Protesters described the legislation as a significant “reversal of decriminalisation”.
On June 20, 30 people attended a public forum to launch a campaign for an August 12 national day of action for same-sex marriage rights. The NDA is being built around three slogans: “Repeal the ban on same-sex marriage”, “Give us civil unions” and “Hands off same-sex adoption”, and so far, rallies are being planned in Sydney, Melbourne, Lismore and Perth.
One month of campaigning against the inhumane detention of queer Pakistani refugee Ali Humayun has resulted in the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) granting him one four-hour home visit on May 31. Humayun spent the time with his partner, Julio Lorenzo.
“These are exciting times for Resistance”, Emma Clancy, a member of the socialist youth organisation’s national executive, told Green Left Weekly. “In the past year we have gone from strength to strength.” Clancy is helping to organise the 2007 national conference of Resistance, which will be held at Sydney’s Glebe Town Hall from July 5 to 8. The conference will involve “in-depth strategic discussions about all of the protest movements in Australia”.
The annual Queerspace student conference held at the Australian National University on October 6-8 was attended by 40 students from Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Wollongong, Newcastle and Perth. The conference launched the national Queer Activist Network (QAN) for youth and students.


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