IT’S been a busy week in Australian LGBTI rights. In Victoria, a last-minute change was made to the government’s Mental Health Bill to ensure gender identity can’t be defined as a mental illness, and it was passed on Tuesday night. The next day, the NSW State Government announced they would introduce a bill to expunge historical consensual gay sex convictions, following Victoria’s lead from earlier this year. That same day, NSW Parliament’s upper house also passed legislation to remove the “gay panic” defence, with the cross-party support guaranteed, it is guaranteed to pass lower house, too. Meanwhile, a marriage equality rally in Albury saw a big turnout, re-affirming that rural areas were indeed ready for marriage equality, while the Australian Greens have announced they will re-introduce a bill to recognise same-sex marriages from overseas.
NATIONAL | PS MAGAZINE
PS Magazine hit the Street this week with photos from all the major events this festival season. With Photos from Midsumma, Mardi Gras, Coast Out, Big Gay Day and so much more. | VIEW
QUEENSLAND | HIV EXPERTS TACKLE EARLY TREATMENT MESSAGE IN BRISBANE
THE earlier treatment of HIV and the advantages of regular and rapid testing were the keynote topics facing a gathering of specialist clinicians in Brisbane recently.
Thirty HIV clinicians from across the country and New Zealand converged on Brisbane earlier this month to discuss and examine the latest research and approach to early treatment of the disease.
In conjunction with the Queensland HIV Foundation and the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine, experts, researchers and policy makers were provided a workshop to share developments within the field.
“Every clinician in the country is working towards the common goal of reducing HIV transmission,” Queensland HIV Foundation chair Dr Darren Russell said | Read more
NATIONAL | COUNTRY MARRIAGE EQUALITY RALLY SHOWS STRONG RURAL SUPPORT
ADVOCATES have pointed to an impressive turn out and high-profile support at Saturday’s marriage equality rally in Albury as evidence there is significant support for the issue in rural Australia.
Hundreds attended the rally organised by Equal Love, including several Albury city councillors and mayor Kevin Mack. Many attending signed a petition in support of marriage equality to be presented to the area’s representatives in Federal Parliament.
The rally came just days after Assistant Education Minister Sussan Ley, whose federal seat of Farrah includes Albury, said on the ABC’s Q&A program her constituents weren’t ready for marriage equality | Read more
WORLD | ANTI-GAY CAMPAIGNER APPLIES TO MARCH IN NYC PRIDE
ONE of the world’s largest LGBTI parades has approved an application from a leading figure in the US anti same-sex marriage movement to march at the event.
Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, applied to New York’s Pride organisers to march under a banner saying “straight is great”.
The application, by the head of America’s largest Catholic advocacy organisation, follows a ban on gay groups marching under their own banners at a number of US St Patrick’s Day parades earlier this month.
The ban led to the mayors of New York and Boston refusing to attend St Patrick’s Day parades in their cities | Read more
VICTORIA | GENDER IDENTITY NO LONGER A MENTAL ILLNESS IN VICTORIA
AN amendment to Victoria’s Mental Health Bill (2014) to ensure the expression of of any particular gender identity is not defined as a mental illness has been passed in the state’s parliament tonight.
The amendment was introduced by Prahran state Liberal MP Clem Newton-Brown to the Coalition cabinet, who accepted it before it was introduced in the upper house.
The Greens had also introduced the same amendment, and the cross-party support of the change to the bill passed in order for it to be legislated.
Section 4(2) of the bill sets out examples of what does not constitute mental illness: ”that the person expresses or refuses or fails to express a particular sexual preference or sexual orientation” | Read more
NSW | NSW TO FOLLOW VICTORIA’S EXAMPLE BY EXPUNGING GAY SEX CONVICTIONS
LEADING community and advocacy groups have welcomed today’s announcement by State Government to introduce a private members bill to expunge historical consensual gay sex convictions in NSW.
Spearheaded by Coogee state Liberal MP Bruce Notley-Smith, the bill would establish a process enabling people convicted of consensual homosexual intercourse, prior to its decriminalisation in 1984, to have their records expunged.
The bill will also enable people convicted under unequal age of consent laws, which were in place until 2003, to have their convictions removed | Read more
NSW | NSW GOVERNMENT DITCHES ‘GAY PANIC’ DEFENCE
DEFENDANTS in NSW murder cases can no longer use the “gay panic” defence and have their charge downgraded, following legislation passed in the upper house of State Parliament this afternoon.
The amendment to the Crimes Act follows years of campaigning and a recommendation by the Legislative Council Select Committee last year that provisions allowing for the use of the gay panic defence be removed.
The bill was introduced by Christian Democrats upper house MP Fred Nile, who also led the committee last year.
So-called provocation laws had allowed charges against an accused to be lessened from murder to manslaughter by claiming an unwelcome, non-violent sexual advance from a person of the same sex | Read more
NSW | MPS SHUN BROKEN HILL’S DIVERSITY CELEBRATION
SENIOR politicians in the far west NSW town of Broken Hill have failed to attend a single event at a major equality festival – despite having five months to do so.
The inaugural Festival of Respect, which began in October, aims to bring the remote community together in “pride, respect and diversity”.
The festival concludes this Saturday (March 29) with a celebration in Patton Park.
LGBTI issues have featured strongly, with a festival highlight being a rainbow convoy through the city | Read more
VIC | NO COMMUNITY OPPOSITION TO LGBTI STATUE LOCATION
YARRA Council residents in Melbourne are weighing in on a proposal for a sculpture recognising the LGBTI community, with no indication of opposition to the location despite the concerns of a prominent local gay business owner.
Council settled on Whitlam Place in front of Fitzroy Town Hall as a location for the $100,000 sculptureCourage designed by William Eicholtz. The 2.1m high bronze statue depicts a man wearing a Cowardly Lion costume from The Wizard of Oz.
The owner of gay nightclub The Peel Hotel, Tom McFeely, has spoken publicly against the Whitlam Place location, arguing instead for it to be erected outside his venue on the corner of Peel and Wellington streets, Collingwood | Read more
NATIONAL | ANOTHER BILL TO RECOGNISE OVERSEAS SAME-SEX MARRIAGE
THE Australian Greens have announced they will introduce a bill into Federal Parliament allowing same-sex marriages performed overseas to be recognised in Australia, less than a year after the party’s previous bill on this issue was soundly defeated in the Senate.
South Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the bill would seek to amend the federal Marriage Act to allow recognition of overseas same-sex marriages.
“We have couples right around the nation that have travelled to all corners of the world to have their relationship recognised equally and to be able to marry equally,” she said | Read more
OPINION | CLEM, IT IS TIME TO SAY SORRY FOR YOUR CHEAP SHOT AT PENNY WONG
PRAHRAN state Liberal MP Clem Newton-Brown’s recent attempt to cast doubt over Senator Penny Wong’s support for marriage equality was a cheap shot designed to gain political advantage in his vulnerable seat of Prahran, ahead of the forthcoming Victorian State Election.
Senator Wong is well loved and respected in our community and Newton-Brown’s cynical attack will not win him any friends. Penny is the greatest advocate for LGBTI Australians in national politics and her commitment to the fight for marriage equality, and a better future for us all, is absolutely beyond reproach.
Newton-Brown says he supports LGBTI equality but, as my friend and colleague Penny Wong would tell him, talk is cheap and actions speak much louder than words.
Unfortunately, when measured against his actions, Mr Newton-Brown is much less our friend than he would like us to believe | Read more
OPINION | SPEAKING UP AGAINST BULLYING IS CRUCIAL IN FIGHT AGAINST IT
BULLYING has always been a big problem for all sections of the community, but since the internet took off at the turn of the century and the establishment of so-called social networking sites like Facebook in 2004, the issue has become even worse, and in many cases it ends in tragedy.
I joined the Community Brave organisation as an ambassador a few years ago after having an unpleasant experience with a bully, and hearing other stories from people who were also the victims of these cowards.
Its aim is to get people to speak out against bullies with a focus on LGBTI youth, but it has also helped many other people as well.
Bullying does not discriminate and it effects children, adults, gays, straights and people from all nationalities.
It can come in forms of cyber bullies, workplaces bullies, schoolyard bullies and can happen almost anywhere anytime | Read more
THE BEAT | RUSSIAN NEWS CLIP OF FRED PHELPS’ DEATH A FAKE
RECENTLY, a viral video surfaced on social media of a Russian TV news anchor laughing her way through out takes as she tried to report on the death of controversial homophobic Westboro Baptist Church founder Pastor Fred Phelps.
However, it was brought to the attention of the Star Observer that the translated English subtitles in the video were all inaccurate.
The original video was posted in 2011 and the subtitles then show that the news anchor was reporting on a story about a marijuana plantation that was discovered by Canadian police and guarded by 13 bears, a big dog, a pig and a racoon. The Star Observer has not been able to confirm if these subtitles were correct, either | WATCH