LEELA KRISHNA

Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) would like to set the record straight about Leela Krishna (‘Gay refugee move’, SSO #1040).

A letter, ‘Media Fodder’ (SSO #1041), by Andrew, implies that Leela Krishna did not give consent for his name to be used in the campaign to free him. This is not true.

CAAH has campaigned for Leela’s freedom since he contacted us in June 2010. Leela was granted refugee status by the Government in April, but remains languishing in detention, while ASIO dithers over security checks.

At every point of the campaign, Leela was asked about how public he wanted to be — if he wanted his full name and photos to be published. Initially, Leela wanted full publicity, and agreed to an online petition. The Department of Immigration pressured him to withdraw it, as his case revealed the inhumanity of mandatory detention.

Consequently, he requested CAAH withdraw the petition, which we did. After being sexually harassed, suffering homophobic bullying, being physically assaulted, suffering a suicide attempt, then forced to move against his will to Melbourne, Leela gave consent to CAAH to go public once again.

Mandatory detention is a brutal system that tries to make refugees invisible. Raising public awareness of refugees’ plight is crucial in gathering the mass public support needed to free individual refugees, and close all the centres.

CAAH has a proven record in freeing queer refugees Ali Humayan and Motahar Hussein from detention. We ask you to continue supporting us in these campaigns.

Leela is currently on hunger strike in Melbourne. Please join the fight to free him.
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=112869638772359&ref=ts
— Rachel Evans, Community Action Against Homophobia

CRITICAL ROLE

Positive Life NSW has welcomed the release of the BGF report by the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing.

The OLGR made recommendations to BGF to ensure it can more clearly explain its fundraised income, financial assistance, other financial support expenses, as well as the support services it provides.

This clearer understanding should make it easier for clients, donors and others to see the range of calls on the fundraised income of BGF. BGF has played a critical role as a financial safety net for people with HIV for 25 years. This has been most useful in times of crisis.

For many people with HIV, a health crisis can begin a financial crisis. BGF’s financial counselling and other services have helped to limit the impact of that.

As we look towards the next 20 years, we need to know that people with HIV can continue to rely on the support of BGF to back up the income, housing and health services and concessions provided by the NSW and Commonwealth governments. For the 10,000 people with HIV in NSW, 1500 of whom are currently BGF clients, this is critical.

— Malcolm Leech
President, Positive Life NSW
Positive Life NSW Representative on the BGF Board

CLARIFICATION

I would like to clarify to the readership that a letter that appeared in a number of queer newspapers [SSO #1040] was not actually written by me.

I have a great professional and personal relationship with Alex Greenwich of Australian Marriage Equality and am fully supportive of the campaign by Alex and his partner Victor to be the first same-sex couple to marry in an aeroplane.

Unfortunately we live in a time where people’s email accounts are not always safe and sadly my email was hijacked by someone who wishes to cause trouble.

I would like to sincerely apologise to Alex Greenwich and the editors of the queer media in Sydney that this rather offensive letter was sent from my account.

I strongly encourage people to vote for Alex and Victor and people can do so at the following URL http://love.flysas.net/?ui=73
— Ben Cooper

HISTORY #1

Thanks to SSO for advance articles about Pride History’s Into the Streets conference at UTS marking the 40th anniversary of the CAMP and gay and lesbian visibility and activism in Australia.

Though SSO board members and writers came to the Lord Mayor’s reception, there were no reports about how successful and inspiring the gathering was, nor any interviews with the founders of our movement.

I’d think SSO wasn’t keen on history, but the last issue had reports of 10th, 12th and 19th anniversary events, just not the major 40th anniversary that created space for all of us to win freedom.
— Ken

HISTORY #2

Forty years since Australian lesbians set up a Daughters of Bilitis branch, and a little later that gay men and lesbians set up CAMP (Campaign Against Moral Persecution) — remembered, celebrated and very rigorously investigated by the Into The Streets: 10th Australian Homosexual Histories Conference on September 24-25.

Really lucky I was at the conference, as you certainly ‘wouldn’t read about it’ in the Star, sadly. One of the opening sessions featured Dominic O’Grady’s explorations into the life of the Sydney Star’s founder owner, Michael Glynn.  But since Star board members and reporters attended the Lord Mayor’s official reception at Town Hall, honouring the conference and our histories, but not the actual conference, SSO readers will be none the wiser about this important community event.

With an incredible wealth of knowledge on display, the honouring of courageous/ outrageous activists, necessary disagreement/ dissent, new pictures of events through composite rememberings — this conference marched and meandered in surprisingly rich and fertile lands.

What a shame SSO hasn’t given readers a glimpse at this fascinating place — our pasts.

— Súin

WORST SLEAZE

This Sleaze Ball was the worst one I have been to since they have started. I feel there are two reasons for that.

Firstly part of the blame should go to the gay/lesbian community for not supporting these events and supporting the private sector events. The gay/lesbian community have no problem knocking Mardi Gras for our festival and parties but then don’t support the events that pay for it all.

Last year, Mardi Gras made a loss as numbers were down. Looking at the numbers at Sleaze Ball they were very low. But I was told the private parties were full. Where does the profit for these parties go? Not to fund the Mardi Gras festival.

We of the gay/lesbian community should support our own functions first, so we can hold the best gay/lesbian festival and parties in the world.

If there were the numbers at last year’s parties Mardi Gras would not have to look at holding extra functions during the year to raise more money required to hold the festivals.

The second group to blame were Mardi Gras and choosing the Dome and the Forum. The decision to use the the Forum was wrong. To have to queue for up to 20 minutes to get in to shows was not appropriate. It is OK to use for a female or members-only venue where the numbers of patrons wanting to go there will not be as great.

The Dome coped with the crowds but neither venue is able to cope with the normal shows we have come to expect from Mardi Gras. I was not impressed with the shows as they were not up to standards we have come to expect.

Every year I purchase tickets to both the Mardi Gras and Sleaze parties even when I don’t know if I can attend. If I end up working on the night then I have contributed towards the festival and helped in my part to keep it going.

I do not want to see what happened several years ago. This time Mardi Gras cannot be saved.
— David

GREENS STUNT

Why did the Greens not use their power in doing their deal with Labor to force this issue (‘Marriage bill back in Parliament’, Sydney Star Observer #1041)? Any MP can introduce a bill — that means little if the main parties don’t back you.

Why does the gay community continually fall for the Greens public stunts on formal gay recognition? This is simply another stunt.

I challenge Sarah or indeed Bob Brown to explain why when they had the chance to force the issue they didn’t. The Greens have conned the gay community.

Talk is cheap, Sarah. Perhaps you should have spoken to Bob before he sold his soul to Labor.
— Tom

CONSCIENCE VOTE

Abbott and Gillard are both shameful gutless wonders on this issue. To plan to guillotine debate on same-sex marriage by denying even a conscience vote?

It is particularly galling coming from Gillard, an atheist in a de facto partnership who, as former minister for education, employment and workplace relations, advocated long and hard for fairness, dignity and respect in the workplace.

Julia, what about fairness, dignity and respect everywhere else — including in Parliament when an issue warrants a democratic conscience vote? What about the fairness, dignity and respect of marriage equality?

If Tony Abbott is confident of winning a free vote against same-sex marriage, he should wedge Gillard on it by demanding she let Labor MPs vote freely. It seems to me that one reason he wouldn’t do this is if he was worried that it might actually pass.
— Brendan

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