My Gay Agenda – Doug Pollard

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To judge by some contributors to this ongoing exercise, I must be a greedy bugger, because my agenda is chokka! This is just an outline, divided by topics, minus my reasoning, and should not be considered exhaustive: I may well come back and add more! And I’d love your (polite & positive) suggestions, too.

Marriage

This one is the simplest. 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.

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 an external training organisation with experience in the field, e.g., the local anti-discrimination commission. Costs to be met by the code governing body.

Enforcement of anti-LGBTI-sledging rules on the pitch, and anti-LGBTI-vilification rules among the spectators, with an escalating scale of fines and bans. Backed up by law.

Education

An end to the chaplaincy and special religious instruction programs in all schools, public and private, nationwide. Replaced by qualified school counsellors, and comparative religion courses delivered by fully-qualified teaching staff. To be part of the national curriculum.

An end to the outsourcing of sex-education, replaced by fully inclusive age-appropriate sex and relationship education  (specifically, to include LGBTI sex and sexualities), delivered by appropriately qualified teaching staff, in all schools, public and private. To be part of the national curriculum.

Anti-bullying programs, specifically including anti-homophobia training, to be compulsory in all schools, as part of the national curriculum.

Law reform

An end to blanket exemptions to anti-discrimination law.

Renewable five year exemption certificates to be available on a case-by-case basis on application to the federal anti-discrimination commission, with a public appeals process in open tribunal. After five years the holder of the certificate must make a fresh application.

Exemption certificates to be unavailable to any body in receipt of public monies in any form, whether directly payments for services performed, or indirectly via tax exemptions, rate reductions, fee waivers etc.

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.

Social inclusion

The addition of LGBTIQ to the remit of the Social Inclusion ministry.

At present the government runs a broad-based social inclusion department which does not include LGBTIQ, despite hints given before the last election that we would be added into the mix, and despite our community being highly marginalised especially in sport as noted above.

Ministry

A Minister with responsibility for Sex & Gender Diverse (SGD) 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.

I would suggest a cabinet Minister For Diversity, with junior ministers for CALD, women, indigenous, SGD and social inclusion.

Community Centre

The establishment of a community centre in central Melbourne, one dedicated building to house all our community organisations, e.g., Joy, VAC, Anti-Violence, Switchboard, MQFF, Gender Centre, Gay Games, sports clubs . . .whatever we got.

Shared support services e.g., telecomms, internet, office services and supplies, rent . . . . keep down the overheads for all and facilitate cross-fertilisation. Include a cafe, performance spaces . . . .

It would be nice of the state government to gift us the premises and pay for the initial fitout . . . .

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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. And now he's been nominated for LGBTI Journalist of the Year 2017, which is great news, as he hasn't won any of these things for years! If you want to nominate him too - the more the merrier - you can do it here http://www.australianlgbtiawards.com.au/public-nominations.html "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)