Archive for August 8, 2012

Tasmania’s gay marriage plan hits stumbling block

The leader of Tasmania’s Upper House has refused to speculate on whether the chamber would pass newly proposed laws on gay marriage.

On Saturday Premier Lara Giddings told the State Labor Party conference she would move to legislate marriage equality by the end of the year.

Ms Giddings said she had legal advice that Tasmania could go it alone and she was confident she had the support of all state Labor MPs except Speaker Michael Polley.

It is likely the legislation will pass the Lower House with the help of the Greens but its passage through the Upper House is less certain.

Legislative Council president Sue Smith said while she personally opposed the change she could not speak for fellow members.

“I would never presume to understand how my colleagues will vote,” Ms Smith said.

“They certainly will listen to their electorates, they will do their homework and they will formulate an opinion on the wishes of the electorate and the legislation that’s before them.”

There are also concerns the laws could be challenged in the High Court even if they are passed by Tasmania’s Parliament.

Treasurer Wayne Swan told Channel Ten Labor would continue to pursue a conscience vote in the Federal Parliament, but said he could not say what legal status gay marriages in Tasmania might have.

“We’ll go through our process in the National Parliament and I guess they’ll go through theirs in Tasmania,” he said.

“But we haven’t seen the outcome of that as of yet, so it’s far to early too draw a conclusion on that matter.”

Federal conscience vote

Prime Minister Julia Gillard also said it was too early to make any decision about the issue.

“We do have a bill before the Federal Parliament dealing with same sex marriage,” she said.

“I determined that this should be a conscience vote for the Labor party and people will be free to determine how they vote.

“As for any laws that may be the subject of consideration in Tasmania, we don’t have any details at this stage.”

The Australian Greens have called on the Federal Government to rule out taking court action over Tasmania’s plans.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said Federal Labor should say what it intends to do.

“I call on Julia Gillard to rule out any legal challenge by the Commonwealth to the passage of legislation being passed in Tasmania,” she said.

Greens leader Christine Milne also pressed the Federal Government for reassurance it would not stand in the way.

“We want to make sure that this goes through, that the enormous benefits that will accrue to the community can come to pass, that we genuinely end discrimination and we want to see the Prime Minister get right behind it,” she said.

“The Greens have been driving this agenda nationally and in Tasmania for a long time. It is so important to get rid of discrimination and it will be great for Tasmania to take a leadership role.”

‘Huge opportunity’

Ms Giddings’ announcement was greeted with thunderous applause by most at the conference and by Rainbow Labor’s Robbie Moore.

“It’s a very proud moment for all of us,” he said.

“It’s been a long time coming and certainly our focus had been on trying to achieve these laws nationally and that’s still the idea but this step of getting rid of this discrimination within Tasmania is a significant step, it’s a huge opportunity for Tasmania.”

Gay rights activist Rodney Croome said he was also proud of the Premier’s decision.

“It will once and for all dispel our lingering reputation for homophobia,” he said.

There are hopes introducing same sex marriage could also bring economic benefits.

The Tasmanian Small Business Council’s Robert Mallet said an influx of same sex couples could be the fillip the Tasmanian tourism industry needs.

“Modelling shows that Tasmania will be in front of the rest of the country by at least $100 million if we are the sole state that recognises same sex marriage,” Mr Mallet said.

‘Out of touch’

The State Opposition’s Peter Gutwein said the prominence of the same-sex issue said a lot about Labor’s priorities.

“What we need to be doing in this state is growing industry not shutting it down as Labor and the Greens are doing at the moment,” he said.

“For this to be the number one issue to come out of the Labor party conference just demonstrates how out of touch they are with ordinary Tasmanians.”

Federal Labor Senator Helen Polley, who is Michael Polley’s sister, said her constituents were opposed to same sex marriage and she was too.

“I know that the groups and the people that email and telephone my office and make contact with me on a regular basis will be mounting a campaigning to stop any such legislation,” she said.

“I don’t think that we need to change the fundamental structure of the Australian community.”

Father disowns gay son in heartbreaking letter

I was made aware of the article below, which has gone viral on the internet. I was made aware of it by a journalist who interviewed me about it and the affects it has on people coming out to their parents who get this kind of response.

“DO YOU know what hate sounds like? This reddit user does.

A sickening and heartbreaking letter from a father telling his gay son, James, their relationship is over has surfaced online.
The scanned version of the handwritten note was posted to the Reddit website under the title ‘This is how hate sounds’.
His father begins with: “I hope your telephone call was not to receive my blessing for the degrading of your lifestyle. I have fond memories of our times together, but that is all in the past.”
He then requests his son cease communication, does not attend his funeral and makes it clear he is not welcome in the family home.
“You’ve made your choice though wrong it may be. God did not intend for this unnatural lifestyle,” the letter reads.
Reddit user RegBarc, who claims to be ‘James’ and posted the hate letter, opened up on the site: “In August of 2007, I finally built up the courage to tell my father I was gay. The moment I said it, the phone got quiet and he got off the phone after a few ‘okays’. I decided to give him time to process the news.
“About a week later, and not long before my birthday, I received the following letter.”
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Reflecting on his life, James says he was everything a father could hope for in a son – an obedient kid and excellent student who didn’t drink or touch drugs.
“Yet I am still seemingly deserving of this terrible act of hate and cowardice that one person can place on another. 5 years on and I am still doing fine, though this letter saunters into my mind every once in a while. When it does, I say without hesitation: F*ck you, Dad.”
User Kriegsdrachen writes: “I don’t think ‘Dad’ is the appropriate term for this man. He sullies everything that name stands for. He should have signed it ‘Goodbye, Bigot’”.”
This article appeared on news.com.au
Even though this was written back in 2007, to read it in today’s age, still has that ripple effect of how can anyone write such a letter disowning their own child. I hope with the great work in the GLBTIQ community, campaigning for same sex equality, that people coming out will not have to receive this kind of letter from their parent/s.
Unfortunately, this kind of letter is still written by parents. I believe it could because of a number of factors such as, the parent/s not being educated enough to understand homosexuality, the parent/s being fearful of homosexuality and do not know how to react to the news of their child coming out and do not have anyone to turn to. It could also have something to do with the parent/s religious belief.
The best advise I can give to people out there who do come out and receive this kind of letter, is to seek support in the GLBTIQ community through organisations. The first step is always the hardest, but it does get easier.
Click here for the article appearing on http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=8512816

Momentum Workshop in Melbourne – VICAIDS/GMHC

Coming out later in life? Want to meet other men in similar situation as you? Momentum is a free, 6 week workshop for men who are attracted to other men and are over the age of 26. This workshop offers a welcoming, informative and interactive environment for you to meet other men and talk about topics relating to sexuality. This includes coming out, self-esteem, homophobia, relationships, HIV/AIDS, STIs and sexual health.

The next Momentum workshop starts on 13 August – 17 September 2012 (every Monday night for 6 weeks) from 7 -10 pm at VAC/GMHC, 6 Claremont St, South Yarra. Registration is still open. Contact 9865 6700 or e-mail momentum@vicaids.asn.au.