“To those who use religious or cultural arguments to deprive LGBT people of their human rights, I ask: “What do you gain by making others less equal? Is your religion or culture so weak that you need to deprive others of their fundamental human rights?”
– UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, September, 2016.
Albury Anglican leader, Archdeacon Peter Macleod-Miller, in Letters to the Editor –www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au on 30/09/16 wrote a thought-provoking piece:
“While there is considerable debate over funding the “Yes” and “No” campaigns around the marriage equality plebiscite, there is little doubt that the social cost already generated by the issue can be credited to generations of institutional investment in silence. The fear and aggression displayed towards commentators advocating marriage equality employs ancient Christian weapons that should have been locked up, decommissioned and surrendered but instead are employed to wage a new war between world views using members of the Australian public as foot soldiers. Evolution of the species is a reality that has not been assisted by conservative religious institutions, and the evolution of the institution marriage has been similarly gaffer-taped by the same team that initially supported slavery, denied women the vote, compromised best outcomes for children and straightjacketed social and religious diversity. In the arsenal of guilty secrets, ‘unchanged biblical marriage’ ticks away as a fiction made possible by collective ignorance, against which Copernicus, Galileo, Wilberforce, Darwin and Pankhurst struggled, and against which those advocating marriage equality struggle today. This is not a Sunday school picnic with fairy floss and pin the tail on the donkey. The plebiscite is more akin to sponsoring civil war with air-dropped ‘hate’ propaganda and pinning the cost on a new generation of young victims.”
In the SMH News Review of October 8-9, Elizabeth Farrelly, in her article “When the church can’t follow its own code”, draws attention to the unfair treatment meted out to Sydney Anglican priest Rev. Dr. Keith Mascord, in having his license to preach revoked, by the hierarchy of the Sydney Anglicans, for his advocacy of same-sex marriage. In a subsequent article in the ABC News online, Julia Baird reports that in the wake of the likely failure of the plebiscite bill, a group of 68 priests and church leaders across Australia have signed a petition urging the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney to allow “free and open debate” about same-sex marriage within his church. A signatory to the petition, Dr. Muriel Porter, a church historian and member of the General Synod, said the action taken was highly unusual, but that they are tired of the bullying, especially when it comes to the issue of human sexuality. “Perhaps it signals a new determination to speak up in support of LGBTI people who have been so appallingly treated by the Christian Church”, she said.
PFLAG and other LGBTI organisations were invited by Bill Shorten and Tanya Plibersek, Leader and Deputy Leader of the Federal Labor Party, to a roundtable at Surry Hills on Tuesday, October 4 re the proposed plebiscite. Geoff Thomas and I put forward our grave concerns on behalf of PFLAG. Bill Shorten was so impressed with Geoff’s impassioned speech that he asked him to repeat it at the press conference afterwards. We heard from several of the advocacy groups of the attacks that their organisations had been recently exposed to, including personal assaults, by the opponents of marriage equality. Out of all the groups and individuals who were present, there wasn’t one who supported the plebiscite. In fact, one of Tanya Plibersek’s constituents, an 88 year old man, who had hoped to be able to marry his long-term male partner of 84 in October, 2017, said they would rather wait than be subjected to the divisive plebiscite. Bill Shorten assured us that Labor would vote down the plebiscite bill when Parliament resumed the following week. We are very relieved that Mr Shorten has been true to his word.
Thank you and congratulations to our National Spokesperson, Shelley Argent, who has expended an enormous amount of her own money, along with many hours of effort and stress in her mission to dispense with the divisive plebiscite bill and to attempt to achieve a free vote on marriage equality. Her makeitlaw campaign on behalf of PFLAG ensured well over 400,000 letters arrived in Canberra over a period of 8 weeks. We had a call from the Federal member for Parramatta, Julie Owens’ office to thank and congratulate PFLAG for the successful campaign. Susan Templeman, Federal member for Macquarie, also wrote a congratulatory letter. Even though we still have a way to go to achieve marriage equality, we hope it will be through a much less destructive process, that of a free vote in Parliament. We would also like to acknowledge the massive efforts of the many LGBTI activists, especially Rodney Croome, Alex Greenwich and all those advocating to achieve marriage equality through civilised means.
Thanks to Jackie Braw, Senior Programs Officer LGBTI with NSW Police, for inviting us to an event at Thomson Reuters on Wednesday evening, October 12 titled “Beyond Tokenism”. The aim of the event was to discuss whether organisations were going beyond tokenism and if pride and diversity policies were really working. It featured a panel of corporate people, including Superintendent Tony Crandell, Corporate Sponsor for Sexuality and Gender Diversity, NSW Police and Pride in Diversity’s Senior Programs Officer, Ross Wetherbee. The panel was moderated by the ABC’s Fran Kelly. They spoke about the results of the 2016 Australian Workplace Equality Index that found that 45% of LGBTI Australians hide their sexuality or gender identity at work because they fear it may damage their career.
This had been reported in the SMH of October 3, where Dawn Hough, director of ACON’s Pride inclusion programs, said this figure was an improvement on those reported as recently as 6 years ago, where the vast majority of those surveyed would hide their sexual identity. Ms Hough was surprised however that people in the public sector were much less comfortable to come out compared to the private sector. Former High Court Judge, Michael Kirby, was the guest speaker and was inspirational as usual. He spoke about what life was like for him in the workplace years ago and how he perfected the art of pretending. He and his partner, Johan, had a code for making phone calls to one another, so that they would be sure to connect directly, rather than to elicit suspicion from work colleagues. He said this went on for about 30 years. He feels now that it is his duty to speak out on discrimination wherever it may surface to support all LGBTI people. He mentioned that he was overjoyed to see the demise of the plebiscite bill and see it consigned to the dustbin of history, as there were still those out there with a lot of hate for homosexuals, who would take any opportunity to deride them.
The panel discussed how they could work together to further drive LGBTI awareness and acceptance and to include these factors in their recruitment programs.
Thank you to the LGBTIQ movie group, Alphabet Soup Cinema, who hosted a very successful screening of the film “Beautiful Thing” at the Mount Vic Flicks in Mt Victoria on Friday, 14th October. Arthur, Ruth & Ron addressed the audience and all proceeds were donated to PFLAG.
Make sure you have Sunday, October 30th in your calendar – the 10th Annual Parramatta Pride Picnic at the River Foreshore Reserve, Parramatta. Come along to see us on the PFLAG stall and join in all the other festivities.
Thank you to all who came along to our September meeting to assist new families and thanks to Ruth for facilitating for us. Hope to see many of you at our Family Meeting on October 22, for as Rudy always said: “When you don’t need PFLAG anymore, that’s when PFLAG needs YOU!” - Judy
Sydney Gay & Lesbian Choir's 25th Anniversary!
Congratulations to our friends of the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Choir, who are celebrating the Choir's 25th Anniversary! The choir held its first ever performance in 1991, following a letter published in the Sydney Star Observer in November 1990, which called for community interest in forming a choir.
Since then, the choir has performed Carl Vine's Mythologia with the Sydney Dance Company at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Arts Festival, hosted the first Australasian Gay and Lesbian Choral Festival and performed at the Sydney Gay Games Choral Festival.
The choir will celebrate the Anniversary milestone in true style this Sunday 23rd October, presenting Silver Linings at the Paddington Town Hall.
The concert will feature popular classics from the repertoire in the past 25 years, such as k.d. lang's ‘Barefoot’, Freddie Mercury's ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and David Bowie's ‘Space Oddity’, as well as new compositions to commemorate the anniversary.
Sunday 23rd October, 5.30pm
Paddington Town Hall, 249 Oxford St, Paddington
Walking Between Worlds: Seminar with Anthony Venn-Brown
Friday 28th October, Sydney
Anthony Venn-Brown was a popular preacher in the mega-churches of Australia. His bestselling autobiography ‘A Life of Unlearning’ details his 22 years attempting to change his homosexuality through counselling, prayer, exorcisms, ‘ex-gay’ programs and 16 years of marriage. Anthony is now a respected community leader and was twice voted one of the 25 Most Influential Gay and Lesbian Australians and winner of the ACON Health and Wellbeing Award (2015). He is the co-founder of Freedom2b, Australia’s largest organisation for LGBTI people from Christian backgrounds. He is also the founder and CEO of Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International.
Understanding the LGBTI faith person’s background, worldview, beliefs systems as well as the unique personal and mental health issues they face, enables community workers and service providers to work more effectively with their clients.
EARLY BIRD RATE extended to Friday 21st October!
For details and how to register:
Queer Screen in the Mountains
Following on from a successful Mardi Gras Film Festival earlier this year, Queer Screen is once again bringing the Festival back to the Blue Mountains from 21-23 October 2016.
Showcasing four great films from their Festival line up, Opening Night will feature Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four which will be held at The Carrington in Katoomba on Friday 21 October 2016. This film was the Winner of the Outstanding Documentary Feature Award at this year’s Frameline Festival.
For all movie information: and booking enquiries:
Pacific Pride Choir: 2017 Europe Trip
Founded by Sarah & Melanie Penicka-Smith, with the help of KIConcerts, the Pacific Pride Choir (PPC) is an occasional touring choir created to contribute to the visibility and acceptance of LGBTQI people in countries where homosexuality is legalised, but not fully recognised. PPC will travel to areas without their own queer choir, and/or where LGBTQI people are still working towards acceptance. PPC will work in partnership with local LGBTQI organisations and people to create visibility, solidarity, and recognition.
The idea for the Pacific Pride Choir was born during Sydney Gay & Lesbian Choir’s 2014 tour to Helsinki, Tallinn and Riga. SGLC’s tour got the media’s attention, letting the words ‘gay and lesbian’ appear on national TV. Local queer folk told us how they felt less alone seeing the choir, how they wished they could have their own choir, and how we were needed in other parts of Europe.
Pacific Pride Choir is open to any member of the LGBTQI community, and to our straight friends. Experience singing in a choir is preferable but not essential. Partners, family members and friends who do not wish to sing but would still like to participate are welcome to travel with us.
The next trip is planned for July 2017, to Berlin, Warsaw and Krakow.
Further information, brochures and forms:
PFLAG NSW Regional News
Michelle Lancey- PFLAG Newcastle/Hunterhad a stall @ Newcastle University on October 13 with ACON for the university’s Pride Week. Michelle reported: “It was very uplifting to talk to these young people and hear their stories. It made me realise how important PFLAG is. I walked around with picture cards and it was surprising how open these young people were after choosing 5 cards to tell their story. So many at 18, just out of school, were too frightened to tell their parents. Their biggest word was trust.”
Tony Sutton – PFLAG Bathurst was interviewed on his regional ABC radio station by Fiona Wyllie regarding the impending demise of the plebiscite bill. Tony expressed his delight to see the end of the divisive bill.
Ron and Ruth Green – PFLAG Blue Mountains were featured in the Blue Mountains Gazette regarding the benefit night for PFLAG at the Alphabet Soup Cinema @ Mt. Vic Flicks on October 14
Jenny Pausacker - Author Website Launch
Between 1975 - 2007, Jenny Pausacker was one of the few openly gay Australian authors for young adults. Jenny has just launched her archival website, with three original articles written for the site, an annotated booklist of the 134 Australian kids' books with LGBQ characters published between 1985 and 2015, an account of being the first publicly gay writer for younger readers, and more.