Category: JustNat

JustNat: Hiding it won’t make it go away – Russia to ban "Gay Promotion"

Photo: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images

Lawmakers from the ruling United Russia party have backed a controversial bill that will make it illegal for any person to write a book, publish an article or speak in public about being gay, lesbian or transgender. The ruling party led by President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin could make millions of people invisible with the stroke of a pen. The bill was passed in its first reading last week in the city’s parliament, where the party controls 23 out of 50 seats. It would need to be passed in two further readings to become law.

In essence, the bill seeks to introduce fines for promoting gay rights. If passed, it would mean that individuals and organizations seen to be engaged in public activities to promote sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and trans-sexuality could be fined 3,000-5,000 rubles and up to 50,000 rubles respectively. That equates to US$1,600 for public actions aimed at propaganda of pederasty, lesbianism, bisexuality, and transgenderism among minors.
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JustNat: Gay Marriage Not a Matter of MPs Conscience

Although the federal government does not recognize same-sex marriage in the United States, such marriages are recognized by some individual states. There are 6 states that grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples: Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont. Maryland recognizes same-sex marriages but does not grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Despite this apparent progress, the legalization of same-sex marriage in the US has been driven by court rulings and legislative action, rather than voter referendums[1].

However, public support in recent years for its legalization has grown considerably in the US. Several recent polls have shown support for legalized same-sex marriage above 50%, but the issue remains politically divisive.

In my home country of Australia, a recent Age/Nielsen poll of 1400 taken earlier this month shows a growing majority of Australians favour legalising same-sex marriage. Sixty-two percent of voters would like to see gay marriage legalised, a rise from 57% a year ago, while only 31% are opposed, compared with 37% in November 2010. The poll shows there is majority support in every mainland state, with support greater among women than men (71-53%)[2].

Photo: theblackletter.com.au

Prime Minister Julia Gillard recently announced a conscience vote for Labor MPs on gay marriage at next month’s party conference. Given the personal nature of the issue and the deeply held beliefs, a conscience vote for MPs (Members of Parliament) is appropriate, Ms. Gillard says, so they can decide ”according to their own values and beliefs.” In response, the Australian Rainbow Labor Network said a conscience vote was not the answer. “Matters of equality should not be the subject of a conscience vote,” spokesman Andrew Barr said.

There have been two sides of reaction to this move. Some gay men and lesbians will see a conscience vote as a defeat, though it may not be. Even if Labor backs gay marriage now, they don’t have the numbers in the current Parliament for change (there is strong opposition from the Coalition and conservative crossbenchers). Some believe once a conscience vote is granted, it will only be a matter of time before the Parliament throws open marriage to gay couples.

Many are angered however, believing that a conscience vote would doom a private member’s bill because Labor MPs would be split, while the Coalition would vote solidly against.

In addition, despite supporting the conscience vote, the Prime Minister also wants opposition to gay marriage to stay in the ALP (Australian Labor Party) platform, which will be debated at the December party conference. The current platform (the party’s guiding statement of principles) urges Labor to pursue ”official recognition” for all couples. Enter the proviso: ”These reforms are to be implemented consistently with Labor’s commitment to maintaining the definition of marriage as currently set out in the Marriage Act.” In Australia, the Marriage Act was changed in 2004 to unequivocally define marriage as only between a man and a woman.

My opinion on the matter; I’m disgusted. Totally and utterly. Disgusted that the Prime Minister would cast such crucial matters as the equal rights of the Australian GLBTIQ community as a matter of MPs conscience. Disgusted that a person’s right to marry another of the same sex is seen as something to debate as ethical or not, when it is obviously so important to heterosexuals. Disgusted that the very people who hold the ‘sanctity of marriage’ so dear aren’t so quick to acknowledge that the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman only came about in 2004 when the Marriage Act was changed.  I didn’t hear an outcry back then that it was being touched!

I acknowledge that it is the current Labor government that removed discrimination against same-sex couples in more than 80 areas of the law[3]. That is not good enough. It’s not even a matter of a majority rule anymore as the majority of Australians are now in favour of equal marriage rights, and our elected politicians should create policy that reflects the wants and needs of the public they represent.

This conscience vote is a political ploy by Gillard to play both sides and win and I won’t stand for it. It is only a matter of time before same-sex marriage is legalised and now, more than ever, we need to fight for our rights! Don’t just sit back and wait for it to happen. Make it happen!

  • Have a conversation with someone close to you about the issue.
  • Email your local MP (Labor or Liberal or whatever) and let them know how you feel about the upcoming conscience vote.
  • Better yet, if you have a phone, make a call to them. You can make your voice heard… literally!

 

If you are in Sydney, show your support for Gay Marriage:

Convergence outside the ALP National Conference, 3 December 2011:

Rally to change the ALP’s platform to allow marriage equality.

Sydney, Australia
Saturday 3 December, 12-3pm, Hyde Park North at the Archibald fountain (Sydney)
Contact: email
Ben Cooper – 0434 082 229
Cat Rose – 0405 770 302
Facebook event here
Website: http://www.australianmarriageequality.com/wp/events/upcoming-rallies-for-marriage-equality/

 


[1] Wiki: Same-sex marriage in the United States, http://tiny.cc/z5wdc

[2] Michelle Grattan, PM grants conscience vote, dooming gay marriage, Nov 2011, http://tiny.cc/gg75q

[3] Penny Wong, Marriage of equality is a core value for all to hold dear, Nov 2011, http://tiny.cc/oixqb

JustNat: If Zachary Quinto Can, You Can Too!

When Heroes and Star Trek actor Zachary Quinto spoke with the New York Times last year he deflected questions about his sexuality, stating “The fact that these things are such hot-button issues right now, socially and politically, I would much rather talk about that than talk about who I sleep with. I would love to be a voice in this maelstrom of chaos and obsessive celebrity infatuation that says, ‘Let’s talk about something that matters.’’’

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