“Not since WW11 have gay people been rounded up and incarcerated in this way. At least three men are feared to have died as a result of their injuries. Those who have survived recount tales of abuse, humiliation and blackmail…Others live in fear of being ‘outed’ by authorities and attacked by relatives and neighbours. The spectre of honour killings is a reality for gay men in Chechnya”
- Dr Justin Koonin, President of ACON, speaking about the persecution of gay men in the Russian republic of Chechnya in the SMH, 21/04/17.
Justin goes on to say:
“The events in Chechnya are at one end of a spectrum of challenges facing our communities around the world. From the fight for equal marriage and gaining legal protections to reducing stigma, these campaigns all seek the same outcomes in their pursuits; freedom, visibility and equality. But for gay Chechens, and many others across the world, they are simply fighting to live.”
Rodney Croome of “just.equal” has called on the PM, Malcolm Turnbull, to introduce a parliamentary motion condemning the cruelty of the Chechen government and the indifference of the Kremlin. He has also called on the government to work with the UN to censure Russia & launch an international investigation. Rodney says: “By your timely action, let those who suffer in Chechnya be the beneficiaries of our nation’s aspiration for a world without homophobic persecution.”
We were very concerned in mid- April, when the NSW Education Minister, Rob Stokes, announced that the State Government would dump the Safe Schools program and would replace it with a broader anti-bullying program. All of us at PFLAG are concerned that all children feel safe and supported at school. We know that homophobic bullying and discrimination can lead to severe depression, self-harm, suicide attempts and dropping out of school. That’s why all of the PFLAG groups in NSW welcomed the roll out of the Safe Schools Coalition in January, 2015, which could be accessed by all schools around the state. We embraced the training and resources provided to participating schools to bring about a safe and supportive environment for all students who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or gender diverse. As “The Age” editorial of April 22 stated: “This is not an ideological issue; it’s about fairness and decency, it’s about the human condition and equality. It is not about ‘political correctness’. It is about progressing from baseless, appalling prejudice towards a more enlightened society. Yet many are putting prejudice and politics ahead of the welfare of young people. That, not Safe Schools, is the shameful thing.”
Another shameful thing was the attack on Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce, with a pie in the face whilst he was speaking at a business breakfast in Perth on May 9. The perpetrator labelled Qantas’ corporate stance on Marriage Equality as “corporate bullying aimed at social engineering” in justifying the attack. I feel it was more a case of homophobic bullying on the perpetrator’s part.
On the good news front, a great day was had by all at the Rainbow Families’ International Family Equality Day at Sydney Park on Sunday, May 7. Thank you to the organisers, Vanessa, Ashley & Mat, for inviting PFLAG to have a stall on the day and to be part of their celebration of affirming rainbow families. It was lovely to meet the young families when they came along with their children, as they coloured in their pictures at the table or got a stamp on their treasure hunt sheet. It was great to see the presence of NSW Police and the City of Sydney Council providing food and drink for everyone. Federal Member for Sydney, Tanya Plibersek, State Members for Sydney & Summer Hill, Alex Greenwich and Jo Haylen and City of Sydney councillors spoke in support and volunteers from the Commonwealth Bank offered their assistance on the day. It was great to catch up with Vicky & Adolfo, who kindly assisted us with the stall.
Congratulations to Ron Green, who received a Lifetime Membership Award from the Rural Fire Service Castlereagh Branch for his years of active voluntary service in protecting communities from the threat of bushfires, both in the Blue Mountains and elsewhere. This is the second award for Ron, who recently shared the Blue Mountains City Council’s Senior’s Award with Ruth for their service to the LGBTI community in the Blue Mountains. Well done!
Thank you to all who came along to the April 22nd Family Meeting. It was great that Geoff Thomas was able to bring his Equality ute along, as we were all able to be photographed with it and farewell him on his awareness-raising road trip round NSW, Victoria & SA. Congratulations and welcome back to Geoff and his wife, Sandra after their successful journey of taking the Marriage Equality campaign to the roads. Thanks also to Geoff for representing PFLAG on the Start Making Sense Panel, speaking to young gay men at ACON on May 4. Geoff is a most popular panel speaker with the young men.
I hope to see many of you at our Family Meeting @ Wesley Lodge on May 27 @ 2pm, for as Rudy always says: “When you don’t need PFLAG anymore, that’s when PFLAG needs YOU!
N.B. We will be conducting a Special General Meeting 30 minutes prior @ 1.30pm to enable financial PFLAG members to vote on the adoption of the new PFLAG NSW constitution. Thanks must go to Narelle Phipps and Pamela Garske for their enormous efforts in preparing the new constitution to bring it into line with the new legislation and to Mary Cunningham for the invaluable legal advice. - Judy
On May 17, 1990 the Assembly of the World Health Organisation approved the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, which no longer listed homosexuality as a diagnosis.
Launched in 2004, the International Day against Homophobia commemorating that day has become a global occasion to educate about LGBT people and to advocate for sensible public policies regarding LGBT people.
Now called the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, IDAHOT, the observance has caught on widely as an international opportunity for people to mark the day. The theme for this year is “Families”, with the focus including the role of families in the well-being of their LGBTIQ members and respect for the rights of Rainbow families.
A number of PFLAG committee members were involved in IDAHOT events:
Ruth was involved with IDAHOT in the Blue Mountains on May 17, where a rainbow flag raising event with special guest speaker, Hon Michael Kirby was held @ 10.30am @ Blue Mountains City Council, Civic Square, Katoomba.
Pam & Arthur assisted at the Parramatta Event on May 17, organised by the Parramatta Queer Forum, from 11am – 2pm in front of the Town Hall in Centenary Square. The rainbow flag was raised by the Administrator of Parramatta City Council, Amanda Chadwick and there was entertainment, police vehicles and a market stall with rainbow cupcakes, etc. for sale, along with engagement with the public on LGBT issues.
Narelle spoke to the staff at State Street in the City on May 17 for their combined IDAHOT/ Mother’s Day event and Ray & I will be addressing the staff at the ATO IDAHOT event at Parramatta on May 19.
Can I Just be Me? Children's book project
Writer and illustrator Elle Adams has written to PFLAG about her upcoming book, Can I Just be Me?
Can I just be Me? Explores gender diversity through the eyes of a transgender girl who just wants to be her authentic self with the support of her family, friends and community.
Currently there are very few books that have trans-positive characters or narratives.
All children deserve stories that teach them not only about how they are unique, but also validates their identity empowers them to be themselves and flourish. Can I just be Me? tells that story without leaving some people out because of their gender, and orientation.
We are seeking to have this book published and delivered to public and school libraries around the world where it can reach the most children. To do this we have started a Kickstarter campaign and I am hoping that you are willing to share our book so that your readers will get behind this great project.
Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir Fund-raising Trivia Night Saturday 27th May
Have you got a head full of useful and useless facts? Do you always get the answer before the contestant on 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?'. Then join us for Trivia La Diva on Saturday 27th May, 6.30pm, Paddington RSL, Oxford Street for a night of feisty, fundraising and facts!
There'll be raffle prizes, winning table prizes, plus you can bid on these amazing items in our Reverse Auction:
- 3 day stay at a Port Macquarie beach house
- Private guided tour of the Sydney Opera House
- 4 piano lessons with maestro Antonio Fernandez
Bring your friends, family, everyone is welcome
And remember, as well as giving your brain a workout and having a fun night, you'll be helping out your favourite choir! It's win-win all round!
Tickets $25 per person or $30 at the door. Tables of 2-10 people available. Book ahead by Tuesday 23rd May by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Making Rainbow Families Seminar -24th June
A day-long seminar for LGBTIQ potential parents, covering:
Assisted fertility, including IVF
Options for trans or gender diverse potential parents
Finding the right health care professional
Legal rights, legal agreements, children’s rights.
Plus hear from rainbow families (parents & children) about their families’ journeys.
The next seminar will be held on June 24 @ ACON in the city. For more information and to register, visit: rainbowfamilies.com.au