Spats over speakers and arguments about an email to Kim Beazley have led the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby to pull out of co-organising a rally on the National Day of Action, planned for 13 August.
Sydney Star Observer reported last week activists had put their differences behind them and joined forces in planning the rally.
But in an email sent yesterday to the other two rally organisers, Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) and Australian Marriage Equality, Lobby co-convenors David Scamell and Julie McConnell said there was little consensus or co-operation amongst the organisers, and in some cases a complete lack of process in decision making.
Scamell and McConnell said there had been disagreements about who would speak at the rally, and took issue with an email a CAAH representative sent to Kim Beazley’s office asking Beazley to speak specifically about same-sex marriage at the rally.
We can’t be involved in a rally which misrepresents what our position is, and undermines what the Lobby stands for, Scamell told Sydney Star Observer.
The Lobby had originally believed the rally would provide an opportunity to unite the community, Scamell said, but it had moved too far away from its original goal of highlighting discrimination facing same-sex couples, in order to focus solely on same-sex marriage rights. Scamell said the Lobby was also disappointed that it had not been properly consulted about the list of speakers -“ including Kerry Nettle from The Greens.
We said at the start of this process that there should be no speakers from any political parties, he said. [And] there was an agreed position that the rally should be broad-based about relationship equality, including civil unions, marriage and de facto.
Luke Gahan from Australian Marriage Equality said the Lobby’s decision to withdraw was quite appalling.
There have been a few times when the Lobby has said they were going to pull out of the rally, and we’ve been able to pull them back in, Gahan said. But it now seems like they didn’t want to be involved from the beginning.
We’ve got to get perspective. We have to do this rally, we have to raise awareness of these issues. And playing games about -˜who’s going to speak, who’s not going to speak’ isn’t going to help anyone.
Gahan said the rally would absolutely go ahead as planned.
We’re very well organised and we were very well organised before the Rights Lobby signed on.
CAAH spokesperson Rachel Evans told the Star the Lobby’s decision was a real blow in terms of political unity. But in terms of practical organising it will make absolutely no difference whatsoever.
Evans said CAAH and Australian Marriage Equality had bent over backwards to accommodate the Lobby.
We phoned, we emailed, we invited them to our meetings, we went to their meetings and we implored them to get involved. And at every stage of the game they stonewalled us.
This stuff happens in campaigns and it’s all part of the process of moving forward, but if the Lobby actually wanted to campaign for marriage rights then there wouldn’t be this pettiness. Unfortunately that leaves it to the poorer organisations with less coverage, that haven’t been around for so long.
We would be so much stronger if the Lobby was on board, and we would win this campaign faster. But we have to fight on anyway. Frankly, if they don’t come on board, history will judge them for it.
Scamell rejected claims that the Lobby had attempted to sabotage the rally in any way, or that the withdrawal reflected the Lobby’s unwillingness to fight for marriage rights.
That’s absolutely incorrect, he said.
I said at the start it’s really important that people recognise that this was to mark the anniversary of the marriage ban, and it was important that people recognised both Labor and the Liberal Party supported the ban. But it’s not just about marriage, it’s about discrimination on all of our relationships.
Scamell said the Lobby would plan its own event to mark the National Day of Action.
The Relationship Equality Rally is scheduled to start at Taylor Square on Saturday 13 August at 1pm.