Freshly Doug Weekender

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Bairnsdale, where the local paper is stuck in the horse-trough era: pic Benningbn

A tiny local twice-a-week newspaper in Bairnsdale, a small ‘city’ of around 12,000 souls in the Gippsland district of Victoria, has got itself into hot water printing an unpleasant and thoughtless editorial, bagging – you guessed it – The mythical Gay Agenda. You can read the editorial in full here, but here’s a sample:

 . . . . a more subtle ambition lurks behind marriage equality; itself a contradiction in terms. The aim is to change society itself. Same-sex marriage is the spearhead of a broad front of manipulation that is straining the fabric of society. Equality, the offspring of tolerance, is not as benign as it seems.

The issue is going gangbusters in Bairnsdale, but not quite the way the editor intended. Locals are rallying to support their gay friends and neighbours. This appeared on  Facebook:

A few days ago an article appeared in a country newspaper (Bairnsdale) on marriage equality bringing down civilisation and a picture of our friends at their commitment ceremony. This was a targeted piece of hate against GLBTI people and them personally. What is amazing is a straight women started a petition that had over 500 comments yesterday [now 1500 – ed] against the paper. Our friends have had people come up to them in restaurants to say they are appalled at the paper and after a two hour meeting with the editor yesterday he informed them that this has caused a more negative reaction than any other topic in the papers history. Laws can change but when people do we move forward as a society.

The newspaper says that the signatures on that petition don’t count: they have shrugged off the criticism by saying only about 30 people have contacted them directly. Jessica John, who started the petition is asking people to email the paper and has provided a template here. Please give her a hand.

This is small beer to what’s happening overseas, especially in Africa. Everyone knows about the infamous Ugandan legislation, which I have written about till I’m sick of it. Not that they need any nastier laws than the ones they’ve already got: A British actor has disappeared into a Ugandan jail just for appearing in a play about homophobia. According to The Independent (UK)

Keith Prosser was arrested by Ugandan police and thrown into a cell following his appearance in the play The River and the Mountain, in which a group of Ugandan employees kills their own boss when they learn he is gay. He has been held in a Kampala detention centre for the past eight days.

Things are equally dire in Nigeria, where an even worse anti-gay bill than Uganda’s (now that the death penalty has allegedly been dropped from that bill) is on the brink of becoming law. Nigerian LGBTIs in Diaspora Against Anti Same-Sex Laws, a campaign group that aims to protest the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition bill has organized protests rallies against the bill outside Nigerian Embassies in London and New York. They say:

Nigeria’s Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition bill criminalizing same sex marriage and stipulating 14 years imprisonment for anyone who engages in same-sex relationships was unanimously passed by Senators. It has passed through the second reading in the Nigerian House of Representatives. The House Speaker has referred the bill to the Committee of the Whole House for final consideration. The homophobic bill is being packaged as a gift to Nigerians.

You can now all stop fighting over the GLBTIQ etc acronym: it has been decreed that it is dead. It was apparently insufficiently exclusive – but to add more letters would have made it even more ludicrous than it already was. It was discriminatory towards devotees of kink and BDSM, we are told.

So now we are GSD – Gender & Sexuality Diverse. Personally I have always thought that GAY (often whimsically translated as Good As You) was a perfectly good suitcase of a word that packed within it all the LGBTIQQ2AABDSMKFUMARY you could ever want, and I wish we could all stop stressing about this, and  GO BACK TO GAY!

I wasn’t going to mention it, but thanks to the committee of inquiry into the proposed changes to anti-discrimination law, which recommended most of the outrageous ‘religious exemptions’ that are the Christaliban excuse for legally-sanctioned discrimination. Naturally this has cause the Australian Christaliban Lobby to go into meltdown, warning of the dangers of creating an ‘ideological soup’. No, I don’t know what it means either.

And finally, another example of the sort of thing AFL teams should be doing to tackle homophobia in their sport: it’s a simple but effective way to make the point. West Ham (The Hammers) wore anti-homophobia shirts at a training session. Simple, really.

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pic by John Seb Barber

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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)