It’s time for LGBTIQ people to demand a shakeup of community organisations that fail to add value to our lives

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pic by Rick Kimple

It’s not often I agree with anything coming out of AIDS organisations, but I do now. To quote the CEO of WAAC “I am disappointed” in some of the comments being posted on social media regarding Marriage Equality!

I am also concerned that the complex issues surrounding Marriage Equality and their intersection with other human rights issues issues are being presented in a way that erases the nasty vile effects of HIVphobia, transphobia and racism from public debate. It does not have to be all or nothing!

I am also fed up to the back teeth with the way ALP supporters launch personal attacks on anyone who dares to consider voting for the other party! I’m not saying I think the Coalition is great on everything, but I am saying that the benefits delivered to the GLBTIQ community by Labour are often overstated, and failures understated.

In terms of marriage equality, while I agree the Coalition should have a conscience vote, I also know that in every state and territory the ALP have voted to have Marriage Equality as a Party Policy. If Julia Gillard was truly respectful of the will of the party she would just pass the legislation as government policy and be done with it.

It does beg the question: is the real reason for not passing the legislation an attempt by the Prime Minister to shore up the redneck vote? By presenting herself to the extreme far religious right as anti marriage equality?  Because she knows they are the only ones in Australia who support her tacky little back room deal with the Catholic faction?

This failure of the Prime Minister to enforce her own party platform sets a dangerous precedent. No PM should have the power to cherry pick which party policies they support or oppose. It’s dangerous because it undermines democracy, and begs the question: what is the point of the ALP having a national conference if the parliamentary wing of the party can just ignore the democratic outcomes?

Is this the thin end of the wedge? Is this recalcitrance by the PM going to be used down the track by other leaders as an excuse not to follow the will of the party? Should the ALP get rid of the “conference” altogether and just have a photo call instead? What next, the end of the cabinet decision making process, having all legislation drafted by the PM and her closest 2 or 3 allies instead?

Oops haven’t we had that and how well did the kitchen cabinet work? Pink batts? Mining tax? Carbon tax? Discrimination law review? Media law reform?

Quite frankly, even the dumb-arse sisters know that intersex is not a “lifestyle choice”! Not wanting to be rude but perhaps if next time it is Penny who gets pregnant then maybe she might end up with a better understanding of the natural variations that exist within the human reproductive system. Or is Penny Wong just following the beat of her leader’s “deal” with the Catholic faction?

I totally agree with James Newberrie’s comment, “I for one am looking forward to all these useless NGOs being pried off the government tit.”

I’m sure you’d agree many of our “community organisations” aren’t really adding much value to gay lives lately. They seem moribund under current leadership. It’s a pity most of the old-school leadership of these organisations died, or retired.

And just like the ALP, whenever anyone questions anything the AIDS Gravy Train does  there are people with links to the industry jumping out of the wood work to defend the indefensible.

In Queensland the LNP cuts removed the single monopoly voice, and now voices the AIDS Industry would like to censor are being heard, and that is a good thing. There is no need to belittle and shame people with differing points of view and opinions. As far as I am concerned, whenever that happens it shows you have lost the argument.

It is interesting that no-one ever talks about QAHCs erasure of Trans* people. Look at any AIDS Council, and you will see Drag is acceptable as a performance, but nothing is done to help Trans* people feel safe attending without being stared at or verballed.

AIDS organisations are unrepresentative, and positive people are voting with their feet and saying no we won’t go to unsafe nasty environments. If AIDS Council attendance figures were properly transparent then this would be clear from the ever decreasing attendance figures. I bet if you check NAPWA’s consultation (undertaken as part of it’s strategic plan development: the thing that secures federal funding), you will find the total number of positive people in Australia consulted would amount to no more than 50.

Jo Watson, CEO of NAPWA, said as much when she said she was delighted so many people had turned up in Perth…. there were 12 people there. No indigenous people, no Trans* people, either male or female, no straight men, only one woman and no lesbians. And they call that inclusive and diverse enough to get $millions of funding.

In spite of this the federal government is doing nothing to address the fact that if you want to be a representative in WA, you have to be a member of the South Australian PLWHA org! And when did NAPWA ever send out notices of elections and requests for participation to the non NAPWA community? I have never seen anything of the sort. It is the same old recycled faces peddling the same toxic culture while having a go at anyone who questions them!

What right thinking people know, is that when toxic cultures flourish, the first to flee are the SisterGirls and indigenous people, and it is clear that in WA everyone is running a mile. And it is the leaders that are at fault. All they are doing is trying to keep things small so the same old same old people get to keep control of the free flights the govt pays for. There is no requirement for anyone to attend meetings if they want to go shopping or have sex instead. Some of the so-called reports I have seen presented to NAPWA look like they could have been written as a high school project. ALL just glossy things are lovely.

These AIDS organisations are openly at war with any client or person who challenges their nepotistic culture. How many people have used AIDS organisations solely to further their own careers, or in the case of WAAC, get life time appointments so they can’t be sacked, only shunted around from one cushy job to another?

The Rules of WAAC were changed from 8 elected positions to 4 and these are appointed without any transparent selection criteria or terms. The Staff have more rights than clients at WAAC. There isn’t even an elected HIV+ rep on the board.  Conflicts of interest, such as political party membership, is not disclosed on their websites. Which hides the fact that the root cause of the problems in WA is that the ALP and Greens control the AIDS Council so as to squash any dissent to their parliamentary agendas.

But of course if the new public health act is put into place and someone finally gets a copy, will it turn out that WAAC has written a submission supporting the government proposal criminalising HIV transmission, with 3 years jail and $250,000 fine  for HIV+ and 1 year jail and $100,000 fine for HIV- people who get STIs? Then we will see what how the WA AIDS Council is viewed in the community. No wonder WAAC supported no consultation with the poz community… wouldn’t want to have poz people telling the rest of the community the truth, would we?

The gay media just prints the views of the elite and socially connected. They all know in WA that WAAC is undemocratic but yet they just care about making sure their advertising $ keep on flowing! It’s the rise and takeover of our community by the plaid shirt brigade who censure any view that is not from their own demographic.

As far as I am concerned Marriage Equality is only one part of our community but it goes to the heart of everything we are struggling for. It’s important but it is directly linked to the issues James has raised! so there!

And I am not going to apologise for this rant cos it’s about time GLBTIQ people stopped supporting nontransparent discriminatory organsations and processes.

Sorry I did not mention the Nazis! I forgot, OK? My bad: next time!

James Rendell
writing on behalf of me!

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About the author

James Rendell is the President of Fagmedia an Independent Queer Media Organisation at www.fagmedia.com.au Editor of Perth Gay News which is Fagmedia's "fluffy social to keep the locals happy" website. www.perthgaynews.com aka Senior Sister Sister Mary-Jane Singleton of the Divine Green Weed, SS Mistress Aunnuncio of the Perth Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence theperthsisters.org (For the hottest gossip in Perth go to theholybitchmotherdingo.org and last but not least he is Vice Chairperson of People Living with HIV/AIDS WA Inc but his words here are his purely personal views and not those of the organisation. James' Academic Quals include BA (ECU) PostGradDip Health Promotion (Curtin) Grad Dip Photomedia (ECU) James was awarded the Australia Day Young Citizen of the Year for 1988 by the Corrigin Shire Council in Western Australia and has traveled to 5 continents on this planet.