Australia's peak trade union body, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), has finally adopted a position of supporting marriage equality. The decision follows a recent move by one of its largest affiliates, the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association, to drop its militant opposition to marriage equality.
On Tuesday August 16, the University of Sydney will experience the most exquisite celebration of love as the Rainbow Campus campaign unites rainbow couples to show Australia what it is missing.
On July 2 Australian voters head to the polls — although by that date up to 40% of voters will have voted at early polling centres across the country. Despite a number of minor parties and progressive independents running in lower house seats and the Senate, we know that come July 3 we will be looking at three more years of evil bastards or the lesser of two evils.
A recent cartoon by Bill Leake in The Australian gave me a good chuckle, although not for the reason you might expect. Captioned “The Road to Ruin” and featuring references to the recently published book of the same name, there was Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at his local newsagent picking up “his” morning papers, sighing while saying “just the papers thanks”. The papers were the Sydney Star Observer with the headline “Marriage Equality special edition” and tucked in behind it was a copy of Green Left Weekly.
The recent knifing of Tony Abbott by Malcolm Turnbull held a brief glimpse of hope for marriage equality in Australia. Unfortunately, the change of PM did not bring any change of policy, and the Liberal Party’s homophobic agenda has remained the same. Turnbull professes to personally support marriage equality, but has asked the rainbow community to wait for a plebiscite until after the federal elections. This amounts to a position worse than Abbott who was dragged kicking and screaming to agree to a plebiscite together with the elections.
Today, thanks to the power of social media, I have come across this despicable act. I am so angry about it that I feel compelled to write something in the 20 minutes I have remaining in my lunch break. The accompanying photo is of the so-called “Uluru bark petition”. It was presented to the federal government, much to the gleeful hand-rubbing of the Liberal Party and particularly anti-marriage equality campaigner Senator Eric Abetz.
#SayYesToLove Volume 1 Featuring Jimmy Barnes, John Butler Trio, Josh Pyke & many more $16.99 via iTunes All proceeds to Australian Marriage Equality www.sayyestolove.org.au A group of prominent Australian musicians have joined forces to support the campaign for marriage equality, MusicFeeds.com.au said. Twenty-one acts have combined to launch the compilation album #SayYesToLove Volume 1 on July 17, with all proceeds going to Australian Marriage Equality's campaign.
The fight for marriage equality in Australia has been long ongoing, and its success long, long overdue. Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH), for instance, is just one of the groups which have fought for equal legal rights. Founded in 1999, it has been campaigning tirelessly for well over a decade. This activism has already changed Australia, helping create majority support for marriage equality.
We thought marriage equality was in the bag after Prime Minister Tony Abbott hinted he’d support a cross-party bill and conscience vote in the Liberal Party room in June. We thought we were closer when opposition leader Bill Shorten put forward a marriage equality bill. Victories overseas — Ireland and the US — in May and June propelled momentum here. But both Abbott and Shorten are now backtracking.
After the victories in Ireland and the US, activists are reflecting that Australia too is on the cusp of a victory on marriage equality. This framed the discussion at a lively forum in Sydney on July 28, entitled "Marriage equality and beyond: Taking the struggle forward". However, as the speakers noted, the struggle is by no means won, and there are still many challenges facing the LGBTI community. The forum discussed the history and future of the fight for equal marriage rights and the rainbow struggle generally.
Over the weekend of July 24 to 26, the nation will be watching as the Australian Labor Party (ALP) holds its 47th triennial national conference at the Melbourne Convention Centre. The Labor Party’s national conference is its highest decision-making body, deciding its policies and future direction. The Labor party’s previous national conference was in Sydney in 2011. At that conference, it voted for a policy supporting marriage equality. Despite that vote, and the Labor Party being in government until the end of 2013, marriage equality was not made law.
ARMIDALE Come to a Women in Black silent vigil for peace. Mourning the victims of violence around the world. Saturday July 25 at 10.30am. Old Courthouse in the Mall. BRISBANE Watch a film: Selma. Follows the civil rights movement in the 1960s, with a focus on Martin Luther King Jr. Entry $10/$5 conc. Friday Jul 24 at 6pm. Brisbane Activist Centre, 74b Wickham St, Fortitude Valley. Ph Dom 0431 638 772. MELBOURNE Protest outside the ALP conference on Saturday July 25. Rally for clean energy at 11am. Organised by Getup!
A landmark demonstration was held on July 5 in Perth. The crowd of about 5000 people — in the rain — made it the biggest protest for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) rights that has ever happened in Perth. It was also the biggest LGBTI protest across the country so far this year. The rally was organized by GetUp! and Australian Marriage Equality.
More than 80 people braved Ballarat’s winter weather to demand an end to institutionalised discrimination against LGBTIQ couples. Ballarat’s Equal Love rally featured several speakers, including Equal Love (Ballarat) convener Koby Bunney. “Love is love and it always wins,” he said at the end of a march from Bakery Hill to Ballarat Town Hall. People were moved to hear from several couples whose relationships are not recognised by Australian law. Many voiced their frustration that while couples in Ireland and the US could now choose to get married, this was not yet the case in Australia.
Things can seem overwhelmingly dark these days, but at least we get to watch conservatives losing their shit over marriage equality. Reactionary heads exploded across the US over the June 26 US Supreme Court decision to effectively legalise same-sex marriage in all 50 US states. And in Australia, panic grows at the prospect that we may follow suit.
ISRAEL BOYCOTT IS WORKING There is a reason why the Israeli government and pro-Israel organisations use everything from slander to vexatious litigation to oppose the global campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. The campaign is working. The June 12 Financial Times reported: “This week an Israeli financial newspaper covered a leaked government report estimating that BDS could cost Israel’s economy $1.4bn a year.