“All too often campaigners seek to change things by explaining to people why they need to change and why their values are all wrong. In the Irish campaign, we did the opposite. We knew that marriage equality would sit very comfortably in a country which values strong families, since this was about cherishing everyone in our families whatever their sexual orientation.” - Tiernan Brady, Equality Campaign Exec. Director, SMH 8/09/17.
Tiernan goes on to say: “The values that underpinned the faith of most Irish people – respect, dignity for every person and treating people as you would like to be treated – were also complementary to supporting marriage equality. The same is true here in Australia. The great values of fairness and equality are good reasons to support marriage equality.
Tiernan also points out that the Irish campaigners were just “the people in our midst” asking to be seen and recognised and they were not just the LGBTQI people, but the parents of lesbian and gay people, who “came out” as the most amazing advocates for their children.
During the walk to Customs House from the Town Hall rally for “Yes” to Marriage Equality last Sunday, we were stopped by a number of people who wanted to engage about PFLAG or take a photo of our banner. One man, who came from a country town, told us that he had personally written to every person in his town to ask them to vote “Yes” and said that his Mum would be proud of us – she was 82 and had always loved and supported him.
There was also a lovely letter, agreeing with Tiernan Brady’s sentiments, written to the editor of the SMH on 11/09/17 from Tony O’Grady, the brother of the former openly gay MP, Paul O’Grady, who died in 2015. Tony wrote that his Mum, when questioned in an interview about her support for a gay son, replied: “He is my son, of course you support your children.” Tony pointed out that Paul had championed equality and fairness across all areas of society, not just for the LGBQTI community. He finished with: “I doubt that Paul would have wanted to get married, but I do know that the core values instilled in us by our parents, and which guided his life and work, were all about family and community. These values dictate equality for all. Why do we need so many words?”
The “Yes” rally was impressive in size – the crowd estimated to be 30,000 people and in many of its rousing speeches, but what stood out for us was the number of straight people and families who turned out in support – even one husband pushing his wife in a wheel chair all the way to Customs House.
Let’s try to initiate conversations to raise awareness of the importance of voting “Yes” in the postal survey as we go about our daily lives, but, as Gillian said last week: “Courage, kindness and courtesy everyone, no matter what opposers say.”
Our National Spokesperson, Shelley Argent, has ordered “Yes” badges and signs for us to distribute, so hoping we’ll have them for the next meeting. You may have seen Shelley speaking very emotively on television after the High Court handed down its report allowing the Government to push ahead with its postal survey. I think we could all feel the tremendous disappointment in her voice. Shelley is amazingly resilient though – next day she was back organising the materials to continue the fight for the rights of our children.
Again, it has been a busy month for PFLAG. Thank you to Narelle, who was very well received when she addressed about 50 staff members at Norton Rose Fullbright Pride Network in the city on August 24 for their Wear It Purple event. She spoke about Wear It Purple Day and the impact of the postal survey on the young and older people reliving memories and also shared her personal story. She received good feedback from employees who had not considered issues before. Narelle was presented with a beautiful bouquet of mainly purple flowers by way of appreciation. Narelle has also been busy with organising the necessary changes to our PFLAG constitution to bring it into line with the new Governmental regulations. I would like to thank Narelle for the time & effort that she has put into this project and also Pam for her able assistance.
We also owe a debt of gratitude to Pam, who took on the mammoth task of applying to the ATO for Charity Tax Concessions for us at PFLAG NSW Inc. We finally received a letter from the Tax Office last week notifying us of our success in obtaining Endorsement for Charity Tax Concessions. Well done Pam!
Pam and Arthur were featured in The Hills News on August 16 under the heading “Winston Hills Couple Advocate for Marriage Equality”. Pam asserted that every Australian deserved the same rights, commenting: “Why should the LGBTI community’s human rights be considered by the country? They should have them automatically.” Arthur said he feared the mental health implications for the LGBTI community if the law isn’t changed: “All those young kids who are that way and haven’t come out, then seeing and hearing all of this … how is it going to affect them? All we want is for the politicians to do their job and have a vote.”
Pam & Arthur also were guest speakers at Comcare in the city on Wear It Purple Day, August 25. Not only were they speaking to staff in the Sydney office, but were also being beamed to Canberra. The staff members were very appreciative of Pam & Arthur sharing their story with them and we received a lovely letter from the Assistant Director in Canberra expressing her sincere thanks and commenting that PFLAG should be proud to have them as they are great representatives of our organisation. I’m sure we can all say “Amen!” to that.
We took our family, visiting from the UK, to the Wear It Purple event in Hyde Park on August 25, sponsored by NSW Police and the City of Sydney. The police band entertained, the City of Sydney supplied a delicious barbeque lunch and there were many GLLOs and representatives from other LGBTIQ service organisations, such as Twenty10 and the Inner City Legal Centre to engage with. It was great to see Assistant Police Commissioner, Superintendent Tony Crandell, dressed in his purple shirt and very heartening to see the Police Commissioner, Mick Fuller, who engaged with all those taking part. Our grandchildren were thrilled to receive a lovely purple showbag of goodies from GLLO Kate Baker. We happened to call in at the Commonwealth Bank at Martin Place afterwards and were very heartened to see all members of staff “wearing purple”. It’s amazing how this day has snowballed since it was founded in 2010 by Katherine Hudson & Scott Williams. Wear it Purple Day was created in response to the suicide of New Jersey teen, Tyler Clementi.
Thanks to Geoff Thomas, who took part in the Equality Campaign’s Father’s Day event as well as all the campaigning and advocacy he has been personally doing for the rights of the LGBTIQ community. Apart from his engagement with Fairfield Council regarding their diversity policy and ensuing spread in local press, he did a “meet and greet” regarding marriage equality around the streets of Cabramatta with local newspaper editor, Ian Horner with very supportive feedback.
Ruth has been very busy with her advocacy work in the Blue Mountains. She attended the August Blue Mountains City Council meeting, where Mayor Mark Greenhill put forward a mayoral minute for council to fly the rainbow flag until marriage equality is passed. Ruth wrote a supportive message on behalf of PFLAG, which was read at the meeting. She has also been taking part in phone banking for the “Yes” campaign. It was Ruth’s suggestion that PFLAG should email a letter to all its members and subscribers to encourage them to ensure that they post their “Yes” responses in the postal survey. Thanks to Natalie for facilitating this process. Natalie, too, has been extremely busy with Equal Voices and Australian Christians for Marriage Equality, who are united in support of marriage equality because of their faith.
Mollie also gave an awareness-raising presentation at the Constitution Hill Retirement Village, speaking about the experience of parents of gay children and the way families are hurt by community attitudes.
Ray & I attended the Surry Hills Police Community Engagement Meeting held at Sydney Police Centre on September 7. The meeting was chaired by Superintendent Tony Crandell and agenda items discussed included the current climate re Marriage Equality survey (including work being done to monitor bias incidents, protest and the NSW PF statement), Wear It Purple Day feedback and Mardi Gras planning. All attendees gave updates on their organisations, with the City of Sydney Council advising that they had unanimously agreed to support the “Yes” vote. They will also be holding a free community event with barbeque and live music to celebrate resilience, diversity and provide support info from relevant community organisations on October 7 from 1 – 4pm in Harmony Park, Surry Hills. We have agreed to represent PFLAG on a stall at the event.
A lot of people have been sending material to us that they think might be useful to the current campaign. Tracy sent us the following link to her blog on her advocacy for her young son, who is gay. It is well worth a read.
Thank you to all who came along to our August Family Meeting to assist new families and to Ruth for facilitating the meeting for us. I hope to see many of you at the Family Meeting on September 23, for as Rudy always said: “When you don’t need PFLAG anymore, that’s when PFLAG needs you to help others!” - Judy
Marriage Equality Rally, Gilmore electorate
It wasn't just Sydney rallying for Marriage Equality in NSW! Noeline Bedford, PFLAG Illawarra Southern, reports that a large and very successful rally was held in the electorate of Gilmore in support of equality.
Thank you Noeline for the fantastic photo below!
Trans Pathways Report
Report from Telethon Kids (WA) Research Team is below. Telethon WA is a fundraising body for childhood and adolescent health.
We are excited to announce that the Trans Pathways report is now available at www.telethonkids.org.au/transpathways
Trans Pathways is the largest survey that has been conducted with trans andgender diverse young people on their mental health and experiences accessingservices in Australia. The report is a summary of findings from 859 trans young people aged 14-25 years and 194 parents and guardians of trans young people from around Australia. The results are confronting and they demonstratethat there is much work to be done to support trans young people in Australiain their medical and mental health needs.
The Trans Pathways project is the largest survey ever undertaken in Australiaof the mental health and health care pathways of trans (transgender) youngpeople. It is a collaboration between Telethon Kids Institute, the Universityof Western Australia, Youth Mental Health (WA Department of Health), CurtinUniversity and The Freedom Centre (WA AIDS Council).
We've already been working with consumer representatives to ensure the findings from this report can help support young people moving forward. Ourteam intend to host a series of round table discussions with key stakeholdersto determine how the recommendations can best be implemented.
Polly Club: 'Gays of Our Lives', Sat 30th September
Marrickville Town Hall
Doors open 7pm | Show 9:30pm | Entry $25 cash ($20 Concession) | Prizes for best dressed | BYO or buy drinks & snacks from our bar | Table bookings held until 8:00pm