Ismail Mirza Jan is a 27-year-old Hazara Afghan locked up in Sydney’s Villawood Detention Centre. After the Taliban killed his father in 1998, Jan fled to Britain and then Ireland in 2001. Eventually refused asylum, Jan came to Sydney by plane in February 2010 in the hope he could find refuge. Instead, Jan had to fight off a deportation attempt in November last year. He says this saved him from retaliation and probable death in Afghanistan.
Anti-war activists gathered outside a VIP breakfast briefing of visiting Israeli military advisor, Yaakov Katz, on March 28 to condemn his support for an Israeli strike on Iran. The breakfast, which included a lot of Israeli security people with cameras, was organised by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies. Katz, a former commando in the Israeli Defence force, has written extensively on Iran and is in Sydney to promote the Israeli government’s view that a military strike on Iran would be a “viable military option”.
At the beginning of the year, Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH), the Sydney-based grassroots lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) campaign organisation, elected three new office-bearers. CAAH initiated national days of action for marriage rights rallies in 2006, has played a key role in equal marriage and queer refugee rights campaigning, and has supported trans and intersex rights struggles and mobilisations.
Ollie MC was an activist and hip hop artist, whose wheelchair was seen from the stage, to the streets, rallies and the coffee shop. Determined and unforgettable, he bore witness to the struggle for truth and justice.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance ceremony, held annually on 20 November, was started in 1999 in response to the brutal murder of North American, Rita Hester. It is a day marked by solemn ceremonies in cities around the world that record the sex and gender diverse who have fallen, and the government inaction that foments such hate crimes.
In the lead up to the ALP National Conference next month, marriage equality is shaping up to be the biggest test yet to Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s leadership. Gillard has moved from her position that she would override a pro-equality decision at the conference, to hinting she will allow Labor MPs a conscience vote. However, she now also holds the dubious honour of being the only remaining Labor leader supporting the marriage ban.
Two grassroots lesbian, gay, bisexual, sex and/or gender diverse (LGBSGD) rights conferences will take place in Sydney in early December. The conferences will coincide with a national marriage rights rally on December 3, outside the ALP National Conference. Australia's first Sex and Gender Diversity (SGD) Human Rights and Dignity Conference, is planned for December 2 at the Redfern Community Centre.
Rodney Augustine is from the Nyulnyu and Jabirrjabirr people. He is a spokesperson for the “Walmadan Country is Calling” group and is a member of the “Keep the Kimberley” group, both based in Melbourne. He will speak at the Climate Change Social Change activist conference in Melbourne, over September 30 to October 3.
The land around Muckaty Station, 120 kilometres north of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory, was nominated as a possible site for a nuclear waste dump by the Northern Land Council in May 2007. This was accepted by the federal government in September 2007. Natalie Wasley from the Beyond Nuclear Initiative told Green Left Weekly: “A small group of traditional owners, hoping for cash for their impoverished community and improved services like roads, housing and education, agreed to the dump site. However, many other traditional owners remain opposed to the plan.
On August 7, 50 sex and gender diverse and transgender people gathered in Petersham in Sydney’s inner west at a “Save the Drop-In” BBQ. The event was in response to the Gender Centre — the only community service provider for transgender people in Sydney — closed a cornerstone of its service: the weekly “Drop-In” service. The drop-in attracted about 40 people each week. It was held in the evening and food was provided. The service accounted for 28% of the Gender Centre’s client contacts, according to the Centre’s 2010 annual report.
SlutWalk has become a global phenomenon since Canadian policeman Constable Michael Sanguinett told a campus safety meeting “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised”. Big SlutWalk rallies have retaliated against this victim-blaming that police, courts, and governments perpetuate. People have protested in Canada, Mexico, London, Amsterdam, the US, London and Australia. Homemade placards denouncing sexual violence, supporting consensual sex and rejecting victim blaming were displayed at all the rallies.
Sixty-two percent of Australians support equal marriage rights. This support has risen from the 33% who backed same-sex marriage in 2004 — the year gay marriage was banned. This rise in support has been a result of the grassroots campaign waged by activists with rallies, politician visits, media stunts, Mardi Gras floats, petitions and others mobilisations. In Sydney, Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) has organised rallies since June 2004.