“We should all be proud that 70% of Australians back Marriage Equality. Now it’s important that all political parties work together to deliver equality for every Australian.” – Dae Levine, Australians 4 Equality.
For the past couple of weeks, our lives have been filled with quite a bit of uncertainty as we waited for more votes to be counted after our Federal election on July 2nd. With somewhat of a resolution occurring as Mr Turnbull declared victory for the Coalition on Sunday, the results in some areas still remain unclear. Although there were many important issues at stake in this election, as parents, families & friends of LGBTI people, one issue at the forefront of our minds was whether the election result would further our chances of achieving equal human rights for our LGBTI sons, daughters, friends and family members. Looking on the positive side, we now have more LGBT members of parliament and more supporters of marriage equality across major parties than ever before.
Dae Levine reflects that historically LGBTI reforms have been advanced by multi-partisan co-operation, including decriminalisation and financial equality reform for relationships. She reiterates that it is vital this continues into the future and the parties work together to deliver marriage equality for everyone.
We at PFLAG really hope that this important reform can be achieved by a free vote in the Parliament, rather than by a national plebiscite. The Senate Legal and constitutional affairs committee’s public enquiry into “a public vote on the matter of marriage” recommended in September, 2015 that “a bill to amend the definition of marriage in the Marriage Act 1961 to allow for the marriage between two people regardless of their sex is introduced into the Parliament as a matter of urgency, with all Parliamentarians being allowed a conscience vote.”
In an article in the SMH of 16/04/16 titled “Why a plebiscite is dangerous and divisive” by Drs. Liz Short & Sharon Dane, it is stated:
“The negative campaign would disproportionately affect the LGBTIQ community and their families. Young LGBTIQ people in particular already experience high rates of verbal and physical aggression, prejudice and related higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicide. Children of LGBTIQ parents would be exposed to messages that their families are not worthy of the rights and recognition that other families have. Emerging evidence from Ireland indicates that such campaigns are distressing to LGBTIQ seniors, who have already suffered greatly due to historic discrimination and seniors, whose children and grandchildren become a topic of debate, misinformation and denigration. Already in Australia, there are indicators of a spike in the need for mental health support for LGBTIQ people, distressed by the negativity and hostility of even the pre-pre-plebiscite.”
“More than 1 billion people now live in jurisdictions with full marriage equality." The turning point came when Columbia legalised same-sex marriage recently along with several Mexican states. Melbourne LGBT rights activist Tony Pitman, who undertook the analysis, said much had been achieved in a relatively short period of time. Same-sex marriage was first legalised in the Netherlands in 2001, taking us from 0 – 1 billion in 15 years. Tony feels it is an extraordinary rate of social progress and we’re witnessing an historic shift on a truly global scale.
PFLAG’s National Spokesperson, Shelley Argent, is planning to send a letter to Mr Turnbull and the media, urging Mr Turnbull to allow a free vote on marriage equality, so it can pass as quickly as possible and cause minimal negative impact on individuals and society. Shelley is asking that members contact her with some basic contact details if they wish their name to be included on the letter. Shelley’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org or mobile 0409 363 335.
You would have received email notification from our secretary, Natalie, that our new website has now been launched. Address http://www.pflagaustralia.org.au Thanks so much to Stuart Garske for his innovative design and the extensive training that he has provided. Thanks also to Natalie, who has spent many hours with Stuart, learning how to operate the new site. Thanks must go to the Pollys Club for their generous grant that enabled us to proceed with the new site. We appreciate the time and effort that Dom Rocheta has spent in voluntarily taking over the operation from Gaspar Rodriguez and maintaining the PFLAG website in the interim. Both their families have been of great assistance to PFLAG over the years.
Thanks to Maree Lau, who will be proudly speaking on behalf of PFLAG to the staff of Dell Computers at their Pride launch at Frenchs Forest on Wednesday, July 20th. Thanks also to Maree’s son, Jonathon, who donated his time to film a short video of Natalie, advocating for marriage equality.
Ray & I will be attending the Surry Hills Police Community Engagement Meeting on Thursday, July 21st at the Inner City Legal Centre in Kings Cross.
On behalf of PFLAG, I’d like to congratulate the Metropolitan Community Church Good Shepherd, Western Sydney on their 30th Anniversary. A number of us look forward to celebrating with them at Lachlan’s Restaurant @ Old Government House, Parramatta on the evening of July 23rd.
Don’t forget to put Sunday, October 30th on your calendar as the date for the 10th Annual Parramatta Pride Picnic to be held at the River Foreshore Reserve, Parramatta from 11am -4pm. PFLAG will have a stall and there’ll be lots of entertainment, games and music, food vendors, face-painting and Doggywood. It’s a great family day.
Our very best wishes to our PFLAG Western Sydney founder, Mollie Smith, who will be celebrating a very special birthday on July 30th. As a member of our committee, Mollie is still very much involved and we always appreciate her wise counsel. We wish Mollie a wonderful celebration with her family & friends and a happy and rewarding year to follow.
Although no new families were able to attend our June meeting, it was a very enjoyable and fruitful meeting. Thanks to all who came along. I hope to see many of you at our July 23rd meeting, for as Rudy always said: “When you don’t need PFLAG anymore, that’s when PFLAG needs You to help others.” Judy