Michael Kirby had been appointed Justice of the High Court of Australia in 1996. The nation went to the polls in March of that year, resulting in the defeat of the Paul Keating Labor government. Michael Kirby reflects on the Mardi Gras of that year: “As the Mardi Gras proceeded, the election returns came in, signifying a change of government. This was an impressive, peaceful demonstration of our parliamentary democracy, that it could occur without violence or tanks in the street. But as the Mardi Gras parade continued in the light rain, many people were wondering what the future held. What did it mean for the rights of LGBTIQ people in Australia under the government of the Honourable John W. Howard MP? Would the bipartisan principles that had so far guided Australian policy response to HIV/AIDS continue? Or would there be new and unexpected difficulties? There seemed to be a change of mood in the Mardi Gras as the evening progressed. The exuberance was moderated by the uncertainty and, in some quarters, fear and concern.” - Edited extract from Telling Tales by Richard Hedger as reported in the Good Weekend of February 3, 2018.
The participants in the 1996 Mardi Gras could not have envisaged how significant that political change would prove to be in the upcoming years – that the more sombre mood of that Mardi Gras and the feelings of fear and concern would herald a legislative change that would cause so much angst to the members of the LGBTIQ community and their families and friends over the next couple of decades.
On Mardi Gras’ 40th Anniversary on March 3 this year, we envisage that the mood will certainly be exuberant, after the resounding success of the Yes vote and the subsequent Marriage Equality legislation at the end of last year. To quote Michael Kirby from 2009:
“This is the one day of the year when members of the gay community can temporarily take over the streets, join family and friends in celebration and not feel second-class”.
We hope that our children and all those in Australia, who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or gender diverse never have to feel second-class again. As Maureen and Vic’s daughter, Janel, wrote to the Sunday Telegraph on 24/09/17 in her response to articles by Miranda Devine & Piers Akerman: “Marriage equality won’t destroy religious freedoms, freedom of speech or affect the Safe Schools Program. The LGBTI community is not asking for special treatment, just equal treatment.”
I forwarded PFLAG’s submission to the Religious Freedom Review Panel last week. Many thanks to Ruth for her significant input. Thank you also to Pam and Geoff, who forwarded personal submissions.
The Expert Panel comprises:
The Hon Philip Ruddock (Chair)
Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM
The Hon Dr Annabelle Bennett AO SC
Father Frank Brennan SJ AO
Professor Nicholas Aroney.
The Prime Minister has asked the Expert Panel to report its findings by 31 March, 2018.
To quote Ivan Hinton from just.equal in his petition to the Ruddock Inquiry: “If freedom of religion is enshrined in Australian Law it should be accompanied by the caveats that exist in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, namely that : ‘Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.'"
Thank you to Nurul from the Sydney Queer Muslims, who invited PFLAG to meet with their members at ACON in Surry Hills on February 3 to seek advice on setting up a support group to assist their families. Thanks to Maree, Sue & Les, Caroline, Gillian and Jean-Pierre for coming along with Ray & I to engage with the group and for your valued contribution to the discussion. Nurul was really touched that so many came. She said she found it very insightful and made them see the parents’ journey and felt that it would certainly help them to get to the Muslim parents’ hearts.
Thank you to Carriageworks who issued an invitation to PFLAG to attend The BackStories: Moya Dodd on February 3 and to Maree Lau for attending. Maree reported that she loved the show and it was an inspiring Australian Story with many parallels in the history of her own Australian/Chinese family. She said the presentation was perfect – informative and interesting and backed with great photos, film footage and soothing music.
Thank you to Pam and Arthur for attending the Parramatta Queer Forum Meeting on Tuesday, February 6. They have many events and projects coming up, including the Mosaic Art Exhibition, which will be launched on February 22, showcasing 7 LGBTI artists from Western Sydney, including our own webmaster, Stuart Garske. See details in newsletter.
Ruth and Ron reported that they had a great time at the Summertime Disco organised by the Three Sisters Social Group in Blackheath on January 27.
Natalie and I attended the Surry Hills Police Community Engagement Meeting at the Sydney Police Centre on February 8. It was chaired by Assistant Commissioner, Tony Crandell and attended by representatives from NSW Police, ACON, Twenty10, Inner City Legal Centre, City of Sydney, Mardi Gras, electorate officers for Alex Greenwich and Jenny Leong, Bobby Goldsmith Foundation, Equal Voices (Natalie) and MCC Petersham. It was great to learn that LGBTIQ is still a priority for NSW Police and it’s always good to hear what is happening with all the allied organisations. Most groups are busy with planning for Mardi Gras & Fair Day and all the associated activities & events, ensuring that everyone has an enjoyable time and keeps safe.
Thank you to all who came to our Family Meeting on January 27. Although no new parents attended, it was lovely to catch up with many of our regular members and to share our stories.
I hope to see many of you at Fair Day at Victoria Park on Sunday, February 18 or at our Family Meeting on Saturday, February 24 @ 2pm for, as Rudy always says: “When you don’t need PFLAG anymore, that’s when PFLAG needs YOU to help others.”
MOSAIC ART EXHIBITION
Parramatta Queer Forum in partnership with City of Parramatta, Parramatta Artists Studios, ACON, Western Sydney Bent Folk and Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras proudly presents Mosaic: LGBTIQ Artists of Western Sydney.
The launch for the exhibition is on Thurs 22 February 2018 from 6pm at Parramatta Artists Studios – hosted by the fabulous Portia Turbo will include performances by Georgia Cranko, Melodiqa and readings from LGBTI writers from Western Sydney. A tour and talk about the exhibition will be held from 5:30pm that evening.
The exhibition will run from 23 Feb – 9 March 2018 and exhibiting artists include: Liam Benson, Georgia Cranko, Stuart Garske, Anna McMahon, Geoff Sellman, George Tillianakis and Dan Webb.
If you want to RSVP for the launch please drop me an email including if you’re bringing anyone. And please spread the word!
FAIR DAY AND REQUEST FOR HELP
Fair Day is on Sunday 18th February 2018 in Victoria Park, Camperdown.
Fair Day is a family fun day full of entertainment, food, fashion and stalls. Lots to see, do, buy and eat! It is traditionally the Mardi Gras season’s biggest day-time event. Each year dedicated PFLAG people set up the stall early on the Sunday morning. We spend time chatting to our many visitors, giving out information, brochures and booklets, selling our rainbow merchandise, having a good look around, generally having a fun time, and then packing up at 4 pm.
This year, we will have for sale our rainbow fold-up umbrellas, kites, neck lanyards, PFLAG badges, caps and our DVD “Bouncing Castle”.
This Years Raffle
We are fortunate to have 2 wonderful raffle prizes this year - a beautiful SEIKO Prospex diver’s watch, kindly donated by Jason Lancett from SEIKO Australia and Vanessa Rodriguez has again kindly offered to donate some of her great Art Prints.
Tickets are $2 each, $5 for 3, $10 for 7, $20 for 15.
Helpers are very welcome and essential!
Fair Day is also a major fund-raising opportunity for us. Come for a couple of hours or for the day and enjoy the camaraderie, and the chance to talk about PFLAG.
This year we need people power to help set up the stall early on the Sunday morning (say 8.30 am – the parking is usually pretty good at that time) and also to help dismantle the stall about 3.30-4 pm.
Please phone Judy on 9869 1454 to register your enthusiasm and your willingness to assist.
February 18th 2018
Fair Day Victoria Park, Camperdown
March 3rd 2018
Mardi Gras Parade
MEMBERSHIP RENEWAL REMINDER
Please do not forget to renew your membership for 2017/18 Thanks to all the members who have renewed already. If you joined after 30 June, 2017, you are deemed to be financial until end of 2018.
If you are on email, please help us reduce our costs by sending us an email with your details (which will remain confidential) and all future information will be emailed to you.
NSW Inc. PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians of Gays) is a group of people who share common experiences and provide support for each other. We listen and love. We help families have open, positive and loving relationships with their GLBT children and we work for their civil and human rights.
PFLAG NSW NEXT MEETING
Saturday February 24 @ 2.00pm.
The next meeting of PFLAG NSW Inc. (Incorporating Western Sydney) will be Saturday February 24th at 2.00pm in the Conference Room, “175 Motel”, Formerly Wesley Lodge Motel, 175 Hawkesbury Rd, Westmead, very close to Westmead Hospital and Train station. Car entry is only from Hawkesbury Rd via a boom gate.
For Information contact: Judy on 0439 466 125 Postal Address: PO Box 3751, Marsfield NSW 2122. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org