LGBTIQ

The conservative right has launched a last ditch campaign to swing public opinion away from support for marriage equality. The Marriage Alliance, a new organisation dedicated to opposing what it sees as a threat to “family values”, was launched on August 2. Backed by wealthy businesspeople, the campaign hopes to scare people away from marriage equality by raising vague but menacing threats about damage to children and loss of “rights and freedoms”.

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.

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.
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.
Ireland passed a new Gender Recognition Bill on July 15 that will allow transgender people to change their birth certificates and other documents, and achieve full legal recognition of their preferred gender. The bill is an elaboration on a previous one that allowed the legal changes, but only with a supporting statement from a doctor.
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.

“When I graduated from high school - Catholic high school - in 1983, I didn't even think that this would ever be on the map,” said Jeff Mead, now a middle school teacher from San Francisco. The “map” that Mead was referring to took on a drastically new appearance on June 26 when the US Supreme Court announced its five-four decision to strike down state laws banning same-sex marriage. This effectively legalised such marriages across the US.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 26 that same-sex couples had the right to marry under the Constitution. Same-sex marriage will now be legalised in all 50 states.
Fifteen hundred people filled Canberra city centre with rainbow pride on June 21, to demand marriage equality. The vibrant rally, organised by GetUp! and Australian Marriage Equality (AME), heard from Samantha and Hayley Wilson, Ebony and Ben Grady, Angie Shillington and Ally Howe, Yvette Berry from ACT Labor, Shane Rattenbury from ACT Greens and Ivan Hinton Teoh from Australian Marriage Equality.
In the June 7 Turkish elections, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has ruled Turkey since 2002, won the largest vote and share of the new parliament – 258 of the 550 seats. But in a dramatic rise in its vote, the left-wing People's Democratic Party (HDP) came equal third, winning 80 seats.
About 300 people gathered outside Newtown’s Town Hall Hotel on June 8 to protest against the bashing of trans-woman Stephanie McCarthy as she was preparing to perform with her band at the hotel. The crowd were there to stand by McCarthy, condemn the hotel’s actions in not calling police or offering McCarthy support and protest against violence against women and transphobia. Speakers demanded that the community boycott the hotel until it apologises and offers McCarthy compensation. McCarthy gave this speech at the protest. * * *