AME Disinvites Brandis Critic

Rainbow Families

Rainbow Families

There was nothing diplomatic or consultative about the “community consultation” between George Brandis and LGBTI community groups. It lasted a mere hour, with 36 LGBTI groups each allotted one minute to speak, and ended with The AG branding everyone “fools”. Cat Rose of CAAH was particularly outspoken; she’s since been shut disinvited from today’s AME/A4E meeting.

noplebBrandis has a habit of not listening when he doesn’t like what he’s hearing. He’s having a row with the Solicitor-General, ironically because he didn’t like the advice he was offered about a plebiscite. He didn’t like the advice he got from us yesterday, so he’s not listening to that either. Instead he argued

  • a plebiscite is the quickest way to achieve marriage equality
  • it is in our best interest to have a plebiscite
  • the Australian public would vote in favour of marriage equality.
  • marriage equality is not inevitable without a plebiscite
  • anybody who thinks marriage equality is inevitable is a fool
  • we are all fools

He avoided discussion on a free vote, insisting a plebiscite was the only opportunity available.

“This is… frankly the only available path to having this matter resolved in the short term. It comes down to this basic issue; what is more important, the end or the means? I think the end is more important and if the plebiscite bill passes….we will have marriage equality in Australia in February of next year.”

(What follows are selected quotes from some of the attendees: their full statements are at the bottom of this post.)

The most outspoken opponent of the plebiscite, Cat Rose of Community Action Against Homophobia, rejected the assertion that a plebiscite is the only way forward:

“[The rejection of a plebiscite] is a pretty resounding response from everyone here, that we want marriage equality and we want a free vote on it!  The government would have us believe that it is either a plebiscite or nothing.  Well I think I speak for everyone here when I say that is absolutely not going to happen because we will fight you [for marriage equality] every minute of the way.”

Stakeholder Director Dae Levine uninvited CAAH/Cat Rose from today’s teleconference with Australians 4 Equality in consequence. But a lot of other people agree with Cat’s stance: the CAAH press release from her has been very well received on social media.

Shelley Argent of PFLAG also strongly opposed the plebiscite:

Mr Brandis feigned ignorance and thought the discussion was going to be about how to go forward. He let it be known that as far as he was concerned the Plebiscite would go ahead. He believed the nastiness would continue even if we stop the plebiscite, which is nonsense.

Alex Greenwich of Australian Marriage Equality, sounding rather starry-eyed, disagreed:

It was the first time in 10 years campaigning for marriage equality that an Attorney-General had met with so many LGBTI groups about the issue. I thought it was a constructive meeting, it’s important we realise blocking a plebiscite will… not stop people attacking us.

It’s really important that our community engages directly with decision makers and to have an Attorney-General talk to us is really important.

Chris Pycroft, NSW Gay and Rights Lesbian Lobby co-convenor, made the astonishing admission that the campaign had so far not been talking to all coalition MPs.

Groups must now look beyond lobbying the Attorney-General to ditch the plebiscite and engage with all coalition politicians about the issue.

We haven’t done that before… if we do find ourselves not having a plebiscite, the campaign strategy to move forward on marriage equality would be to have the conversation with all the coalition’s members of parliament.

In the meantime public marches for equality are planned across the country, starting tomorrow in Sydney and Melbourne: see below for details.

It’s worth at this point looking back to September last year, when the then Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson said, re a plebiscite:

A plebiscite is not an appropriate method of addressing matters relating to marriage.

Public votes are not an appropriate way to resolve issues of fundamental rights. It is not an appropriate instrument to resolve issues of equality before the law. Nor is it an appropriate instrument to resolve issues of religious freedom.

I hope he remembers that when the time comes for him to cross the floor and vote it down.


Demonstrations: click on links for details

Sydney: 1pm Saturday 8 October, Sydney Town Hall

Melbourne: 1pm Saturday 8 October State Library

Canberra: 1pm Sunday 9 October, Petrie Plaza

Brisbane: 1pm Saturday 15 October, Queens Park

Perth: 1pm Saturday 15 October, Murray Street Mall


Cat Rose: Community Action Against Homophobia

catroseThe Attorney General George Brandis met with national LGBTIQA organisations today to discuss the terms of the proposed plebiscite on Marriage Equality.

Over 20 community representatives were unanimous in rejecting the government’s proposals and in demanding parliament pass marriage equality now.  Attendees were unimpressed that the Attorney General offered them only one minute to speak each in return for discussion time which he used to filibuster, time waste and condescend to those attending before rejecting further questions.

Brandis was told “That’s a joke!” when he said “I am happy to be part of the first Australian government to pursue marriage equality.”

Cat Rose told Brandis, “That is a pretty resounding response from everyone here that we want marriage equality and we want a free vote on it!  The government would have us believe that it is either a plebiscite or nothing.  Well I think I speak for everyone here when I say that is absolutely not going to happen because we will fight you [for marriage equality] every minute of the way.”

She continued, “I will not thank you for giving up a measly hour of your time, you should have consulted us twelve years ago before you ever passed the homophobic Marriage Amendment Act that has put us in this position today.  We’ve been through six Prime Ministers since then. Do you really want to see the end of another ineffective, disliked government, again?  You yourself Brandis are currently facing calls to resign.

“Primary school children would be able to pass this reform… You don’t have a mandate….  But the thing that does have a mandate is marriage equality and we will be protesting outside on the streets this month.

Brandis claimed that the government’s position would not be changing because they “had an election promise” but as Rose stated to him, “You have thrown up excuse after excuse, the current one being election promises that nobody ever supported or ever asked for.  The troglodytes in parliament… being unable to pass a simple reform based on the fact that you made a promise that you wouldn’t is an absolute embarrassment to yourself!”


 

Chris Pycroft: NSW Gay and Rights Lesbian Lobby co-convenor

Speaking to Star Observer

I think the meeting was constructive, the fact it was the first consultation specifically on marriage equality and so many organisations could share their position.

I would certainly like to hope Senator Brandis took all our positions into consideration, but unfortunately we’ve been dealt the harsh reality that the coalition took a promise to hold a plebiscite to the election. But we’re trying to do everything we can to change that.

Groups must now look beyond lobbying the Attorney-General to ditch the plebiscite and engage with all coalition politicians about the issue.

We haven’t done that before… if we do find ourselves not having a plebiscite, the campaign strategy to move forward on marriage equality would be to have the conversation with all the coalition’s members of parliament.


Ivan Hinton: just.equal

Australian Marriage EqualityThere was no negotiation. Every group called for a free vote. These groups honoured you and what you wanted them to say.

I told the AG it was a historic opportunity. We could block the plebiscite, spare the community & forge ahead on a path to achieve equality without a national campaign of division. I suggested he could consider us coiled springs, ready to activate on a campaign to unite government & the political spectrum to achieve equality by free vote.

For the meantime, the govt continues on its path, we continue on ours. I genuinely hope we’ll find a way to work together shortly, but it must be on terms around a free vote, not a hate fest.


Shelley Argent: PFLAG

This afternoon I attended the  National Roundtable to meet with Att Gen George Brandis to discuss the Plebiscite. Every person who attended had one minute to put their views across about how the Plebiscite was a very bad idea. We let it be known there were no positives.

However, Mr Brandis feigned ignorance and thought the discussion was going to be about how to go forward. He let it be known that as far as he was concerned the Plebiscite would go ahead. He believed the nastiness would continue even if we stop the plebiscite, which is nonsense. And of course there was the usual logic from him that we all know is meaningless.

The only questions asked were pre registered and so no spontaneous questions were allowed.

I suggest everyone send Brandis a personal email Senator.Brandis@aph.gov.au and Mr Turnbull   malcom.turnbull.mp@aph.gov.au  explaining very nicely that you definitely do not want a Plebiscite and happy to wait, regardless of his scaremongering or logic.

Don’t sit back,be heard and send your message. And don’t forget www.makeitlaw.com.au which will also help. Presently, over 400,000 emails have gone to Canberra, keep the messages going

Below is my one minutes worth –

Shelley told him


Alex Greenwich: Australian Marriage Equality

Speaking to Star Observer

It was the first time in 10 years campaigning for marriage equality that an Attorney-General had met with so many LGBTI groups about the issue.

I thought it was a constructive meeting, it’s important we realise blocking a plebiscite will… not stop people attacking us.

It’s really important that our community engages directly with decision makers and to have an Attorney-General talk to us is really important. If we achieve it (marriage equality) through a vote (in parliament), we have to be able to work productively with all members of parliament.

There is more support now in parliament for marriage equality than ever before and that was the result of community campaigning.

I was proud to help facilitate this meeting. I’m happy because it’s really important when we’re dealing with such an important issue in our community, it’s dominated the dialogue in our community that we don’t just talk to ourselves about it and talk to the decision makers.

I hope the plebiscite is voted down as soon as possible so we can get back to working with on marriage equality legislation.

I think that all Australian should be able to marry the person they love, in the country they love and I’m committed on working on this until it happens.


Tim Wilson

Sep 2015 HR Commission submission to Senate

A plebiscite is not an appropriate method of addressing matters relating to marriage.

Public votes are not an appropriate way to resolve issues of fundamental rights. It is not an appropriate instrument to resolve issues of equality before the law. Nor is it an appropriate instrument to resolve issues of religious freedom.

The Constitution gives the power to resolve these issues to the Parliament for a reason. On the substantive matter, it is not appropriate that the Australian population is given a vote on the legal standing of the relationships of same-sex attracted Australians any more than it would be for the Australian population to vote on the legal standing of opposite-sex attracted Australians.

Unless it is constitutionally required, Australia does not have a history of resolving issues of rights through public votes. The Constitution correctly gives the Parliament responsibility for these issues.

Issues of rights are not best resolved through a public vote. They are best resolved by responsible government.

The resolution to this debate should be through calm, considered, nuanced and reasoned consideration of the implications of the rights and freedoms of all Australians.

A public vote will do nothing to resolve the substantive issue in a way that unites Australians and takes the country forward together with a proper respect for the rights and freedoms of all.

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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)