Freshly Doug Wednesday

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The British Houses of Parliament, by Maurice

Well hoorah, hoorah, and all that, well done, chaps and chapesses, the British House of Commons has passed the same-sex marriage bill with a stonking great majority, ayes 400 noes 175, and split the Tory Party down the middle. All as expected. But, as Gilbert & Sullivan might have said, only ‘modified rapture’.

The Bill now goes to the committee stage (that’s the stage of detailed examination), and as we all know, the devil is in the detail. One of the ‘details’ that needs to be sorted during committee – and probably won’t be – is the complete lack of anything for trans and intersex folkPlenty of time for pesky amendments, sideshows, grandstanding, fearmongering etc etc. Then it goes to the Lords. This ain’t over yet, though with such a huge vote in favour, the likelihood of failure is minute.

If you want to know just how obstructionist the opposition can get, just look at France, here they have introduced over 5,000 amendments following the initial vote in favour, including some nasty ones of the bitterly cynical ‘let’s make incest/bestiality/paedophilia legal, too’ variety. Doncha just love a good Catholic sense of humour?

Jason Ball continues to garner rave reviews all round, so much so that I’m thinking of starting another blog just to follow his progress. I’m tempted to call it JasonBalls, but that would be rude. I’m now waiting for the moment when he decides to leap on the fashionable bandwagon for modern gay activists, and announce a political career. Here he is on Sky.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, if you want an insight into AFL thinking on homophobia, turn to The Age, where Gay Alcorn channels a testy Andrew Demetriou with uncanny accuracy.

The AFL thinks the criticism is unfair and counterproductive, yet wants to do more, and is now canvassing clubs on whether they want a gay pride match or round and a full-blown anti-homophobia campaign separate from its ”social inclusion” policy that incorporates homophobia alongside other forms of discrimination. Let’s hope they resist. Not because homophobia isn’t a good cause, but because we’re all caused out and perhaps we can handle this one without the AFL holding our collective hand. And because there’s something false about football players being compelled to re-educate us all about how to behave.

She also has a go at ‘gay activists’ – which seems to be shorthand for ‘Rob Mitchell, since he’s the only one she quotes. All in all a sad but useful insight into the mindset of an organisation that thinks high rates of suicide and self harm among LGBTI kids are none of its business, despite wanting to be the Australian National Sport and exemplify the best of Australian society, and all that sort of high-minded rot.

And speaking of grumpy Aussie characters, you can’t go past Gary Burns. Love him or loathe him – and there are plenty who do – he isn’t shy about having a go in the name of LGBTIQ rights. He’s bringing a vilification case at the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board, naming Tess Corbett and Katters Australia Party as respondents.

Burns said Katter should publicly condemn Ms Corbett’s comments – she said pedophiles would be “next in line” to demand recognition if equal rights were extended to gay and lesbian people – and the KAP needed to adopt policies that promoted tolerance and diversity. Thanks Gary.

The stoush over who first thought of putting up a bill to wipe out past convictions for gay sex in Victoria is getting interesting. This is a cause long espoused by Jamie Gardiner of Liberty Victoria, but has recently been taken up by Clem Newton-Brown of the Liberals, and this weekend by Labor leader Daniel Andrews.

Gardiner tells me that both parties seem to have decided that this was a good idea at about the same time. Last year Newton-Brown approached state Attorney-General Robert Clark after reading Noel Tovey’s autobiography, Little Black Bastard, and realising that historical convictions were still an issue for gay men today. About the same time shadow state attorney-general Martin Pakula, responding to the VGLRL, agreed this was a cause worth taking up.

Newton-Brown and Andrews will be joining me on The Rainbow Report on Joy 94.9 Thursday evening: it seems this one may get through with bipartisan support.

ACON (formerly AIDS Council of New South Wales) is launching its new strategy on Friday. It says:

We are at an historic turning point in the response to the HIV epidemic, heralded last year with the launch of the NSW Government’s NSW HIV Strategy 2012 – 2015: A New Era. While condoms and community engagement remain central to the fight against HIV – and are the cornerstone to any effective response to HIV prevention – new technologies and scientific advances provide us with an opportunity to strengthen our approach and end HIV transmissions in NSW.

Good to see them acknowledge the primacy of condoms as the principal HIV prevention tool. I was reminded recently that not so long ago, you couldn’t go to a bar. club or sex on premises venue without seeing condoms, and posters promoting their use, everywhere you went.

Perhaps some AIDS pprofessionals have been spruiking at the same stand for too many years and become bored with the whole condom thing. When their burned-out imaginations couldn’t dream up new and better ways of selling the pro-condom story, they looked for different ideas to promote, instead of new ways to sell the old one. Perhaps, like the rest of us, they don’t actually like condoms all that much and find it hard to be positive about them (puns intended). Or perhaps politicians, looking at static or even rising numbers of new infections, demanded something different, and the queerocracy obliged.

There are a myriad reasons for the fall in condom use and the rise in infections, and they are not unique to Australia. Whether we like it or not, it seems we are about to embark on a world-wide mass experiment with the lives of thousands of young gay men, triggering a potential bonanza for the drug companies, who will have a vast new market – the uninfected – to sell their anti-retrovirals to.

And finally, please sign this very worthy petition asking Mount Scopius College to become a member of the Safe Schools Coalition.

Like all schools, Mount Scopus Memorial College (MSMC) has a responsibility to ensure that every one of its students and teachers feels and is safe on campus. Becoming a member of SSCV would demonstrate MSMC’s commitment to ensuring that all young people are welcome and valued at the school, regardless of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

It would also send a strong message to the Melbourne and Australian Jewish communities that gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and other queer young people, as full members of Klal Yisrael (the Jewish people), are entitled to and must be treated with respect and dignity.

Mount Scopus is a Co-educational Jewish Day School, with over 1,500 students from Kindergarten to Year 12, located in Melbourne. Please sign the petition. Shalom.

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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)