15 G.A.Y.* Agenda Items

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My Big Gay Gypsy Wedding Bus with added Queen! by Nicky Rowbottom

More like notes for an agenda, really, since new issues are surfacing regularly during this interminable election campaign. Random jottings, in no particular order, pulling together issues I have come across in discussions on social media and elsewhere. Feel free to add more in the comments below.

Marriage is the pivot, the keystone, of G.A.Y.* equality, but we must not shy away from the fact that our enemies are correct: it is only a beginning, not the end. There is much other work still to do.

1. Education

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pic Isaac Bowen

An end to the chaplaincy and special religious instruction programs in all schools, public and private, nationwide. Replace by qualified school counsellors, and comparative religion courses delivered by fully-qualified teaching staff.

Proper sex-education in all schools, public and private: fully inclusive age-appropriate sex, specifically including G.A.Y.* sex and sexualities), delivered by appropriately qualified teaching staff, in all schools, public and private.

Anti-bullying programs, specifically including anti-homophobia training, to be compulsory in all schools.

2. Discrimination

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pic Lindsey Turner

A Bill of Rights

An end to blanket exemptions to anti-discrimination law on religious or any other grounds.

Make renewable five-year exemption certificates available on a case-by-case basis, on application to the federal human rights commission, with a public appeals process in open tribunal. After five years the holder of the certificate must make a fresh application, or the exemption lapses.

No exemptions for any organisation receiving public monies, directly or indirectly in the form of tax exemptions, rate reductions, fee waivers etc.

All organisation doing business with state or federal government to have in place verified and externally monitored G.A.Y.* anti-discrimination policies and procedures.

Anti-discrimination commissions (state and federal) be given the power to take over individual complaints and act for the complainant.

Anti-discrimination commissions to be given the power to initiate investigations even in the absence of specific complaints.

If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. If the effect of an action is to discriminate against a person or class of persons, then it is discrimination, regardless of the alleged intent. The law should make this clear.

3. Intersex

No surgeries or other medical interference on intersex children without their informed consent.

4. Sport

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Collingwood vs Hawthorn @ MCG (Steve Davidson)

Did you know that the AFL is exempt from income tax? As is every AFL club? So they have a special responsibility to take the lead in ending discrimination in sport.

Every sport, starting with the AFL, to introduce grass-roots anti-homophobia education, from the smallest local club to the highest levels of the game, devised and delivered by external training organisations with experience in the field, e.g., the local anti-discrimination commission. Costs to be met by the code governing body.

Pro-active enforcement of anti-G.A.Y.*-sledging rules on the pitch, and anti-G.A.Y.*-vilification rules among the spectators, with an escalating scale of expulsions, fines and bans. Backed up by law.

5. Aged Care

Provide dignity and respect in both in home and residential aged care for ALL, including G.A.Y.*

Fund aged care adequately

6. Medicine

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pic Jeff Eaton

G.A.Y.* health to be a mandatory integral component of all medical training. At present, if it happens at all, it’s a rushed day or so on the topic: it needs to be woven through all topics.

7. Trans

No forced divorce for married couples where one transitions

Hormone treatment and gender affirmation surgery covered by Medicare

8. Religion

For a very long time religions, and religious owned and run businesses, have had extraordinary privileges in the form of tax and rate exemptions worth, in 2009, over $31billion a year. They have the further privilege of extensive exemptions to anti-discrimination law.

At the same time, a great deal of what used to be government business, e.g., in employment, aged care, has been outsourced to them.

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pic Tim Green

Now they want yet more. Now they are arguing for private businesses to be given the same privilege as religious owned businesses in respect of anti-discrimination law.

Let’s be clear. Once you enter the public domain, you cannot expect your business to be given special privileges over other business just because an owner or employee happens to adhere to a particular belief system. You cannot expect to impose your religious beliefs on others not of your faith.

There’s a word for a legal system that does that. Shariah.

9. Yes Minister

A Minister with responsibility for G.A.Y.* people.

Minorities, e.g., women, indigenous people, each have a minister, a one-stop shop responsible across the whole of government for pursuing their concerns, yet despite forming between 3-6% of the population at a conservative estimate, there is no one ‘go to’ person.

There should be a Cabinet Minister For Diversity & Inclusion, with junior ministers for women, indigenous, G.A.Y.* etc.

10. Census & Surveys & Forms

If we don’t appear in the stats we don’t get the funding. Add sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex questions to all national surveys e.g., the census, so we can actually see what the challenge is and how interventions are or aren’t effective.

Change all official forms to include Other besides M and F, or remove gender markers altogether where the information is not relevant.

11. Adoption and Surrogacy

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by David Prasad

We should be able to adopt and access altruistic surrogacy in precisely the same way that straight people can.

Commercial surrogacy should be legalized.

12. Health

End the 12 month blood ban

Tackle high rates of mental ill-health and recreational drug and alcohol abuse

Make PreP available on PBS

13. Refugees & Asylum

End the refusal of asylum to LGBT refugees: priority to be given to G.A.Y.* refugees from countries where homosexuality is illegal.

No resettlement to any country without full G.A.Y.* rights, and no refoulment. Resettlement only on the Australian mainland.

14. Crime, Policing

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pic Takver

End the failure of police and prosecutors to tackle anti-LGBT hate crimes (especially when race and religion are involved).

Full independent public enquiry into the bashings and murders of Sydney gay men in the 1970s and 1980s.

All police forces to have an independent external body to monitor performance and investigate corruption and complaints, with powers to compel change and order redress.

15. Marriage

And finally. The simplest, yet the biggest, and the toughest – so far. A sex and gender neutral marriage law, which allows any two adults to marry on exactly the same terms and with exactly the same rights, responsibilities and privileges currently enjoyed by heterosexual couples.

I left this till last, because it is the one most likely to succeed in one form or another in the near future. But marriage is, as many have rightly pointed out, only a symbol. A very powerful and important one which says, loud and clear, that G.A.Y.* people shall not be treated as in any way different, and certainly not lesser, in any area of life.

A symbol that calls an end to sexual apartheid, that no, we will never again accept lesser status, fewer rights. A symbol that says our relationships to be respected, honoured and celebrated exactly as anyone else’s are.

It is also only a beginning.

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My Big Gay Gypsy Wedding Bus with added Queen! by Nicky Rowbottom

G.A.Y.* = Good As You (the acronym formerly known as LGBTI2QQA+)

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About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years.

“Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe.” (Daniel Witthaus, “Beyond Priscilla”, Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)