In this week’s edition, on top of our usual news and feature stories from around Australia and the world, the Star Observer is also marking the festivities with many Mardi Gras-related articles, and a collection of quotes from people who explain what the festival means to them.
Happy Mardi Gras!
Also as an LGBTI community-owned social enterprise, we pay careful attention to the needs of our rapidly growing and evolving readership.
To allow us to stay ahead of the curve, the Star Observer team is working on exciting changes that will enable us to inform, educate and entertain even more people and further strengthen our position as the first choice for authoritative and highly-respected LGBTI news, analysis, opinion and cultural information.
But this is just a teaser. Watch this space in the coming days as we reveal more about the exciting changes we have in store.
MARDI GRAS: GET READY TO CELEBRATE MARDI GRAS
THE Mardi Gras weekend is finally upon us and there is so much to do — and there are also lots of surprises in store.
Saturday’s Parade is one of the world’s largest and most iconic LGBTI celebrations. It is a chance for all of the colours of the kaleidoscope to come together, to commemorate, celebrate, and communicate the universal message of diversity, equality, and the right to love whom our hearts desire.
The Parade has come a long way since 1978, when members of the community first took to the streets wearing costumes and carrying placards calling for rights and acceptance on the anniversary of New York City’s Stonewall riots | Read more
MARDI GRAS: MAYOR HELPS ‘GODFATHER OF MARDI GRAS’ TOAST 85TH BIRTHDAY
SOME call him the ‘Godfather of Mardi Gras’ and with friends and the great and good of the local LGBTI community in tow, Ron Austin celebrated his 85th birthday in style last night.
At a special reception hosted by Lord Mayor Clover Moore inside Sydney Town Hall, Austin was toasted and lauded for his leading role in the gay rights movement of the 1970s and for helping bring about the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras – an event that is now considered the largest annual LGBTI pride parade in the world.
Speaking at the reception, Moore paid tribute to Austin’s decades of activism fighting for gay and lesbian rights.
“We have you to thank for your imagination, your idea and your optimism,” the Lord Mayor said | Read more
MELB: MELBOURNE COUNCIL VOTES TO REMAIN SISTER CITIES WITH RUSSIA’S ST PETERSBURG
MELBOURNE Council has voted not to suspend its sister city relationship with St Petersburg, revealing divisions between the Australian and Russian LGBTI communities on how best to engage with Russia’s ongoing persecution of its LGBTI citizens.
Council decided late last year to defer a decision on the suspension until after greater consultation with both the local Russian community and the LGBTI community in St Petersburg. This consultation informed the council’s decision to support using the relationship to help the LGBTI community in St Petersburg rather than suspend it | Read more
NATIONAL: JULIE BISHOP CRITICISES UGANDA’S ANTI-GAY LAWS IN LETTER
AUSTRALIAN Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has “serious concerns” about the new laws in Uganda that criminalise homosexuality with sentences of up to life imprisonment.
At a Senate hearing yesterday, Bishop read out at letter she wrote to her Ugandan counterpart on Wednesday to express the government’s concerns that new laws undermined basic human rights. Ugandan President Yoweri Musenveni had signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act into law on Monday | Read more
MARDI GRAS: PATRICK ABBOUD’S NEW CHAPTER
PATRICK Abboud had no trouble explaining the main reason why he was excited about co-hosting the Mardi Gras Parade highlights show on national TV on Sunday night.
“I’m hoping it would open up other opportunities for me to work with other young people and youth organisations,” he said.
“I want to kind of give that back.”
This desire to help stemmed from his personal coming out journey, which started during his first Mardi Gras experience when he was 24.
“It was such a liberating experience,” Abboud, 35, said | Read more
MARDI GRAS: CHARLIE PICKERING: A FORMIDABLE ALLY FOR FAIRNESS
THE host of The Project was in Sydney leading up to the Mardi Gras and he took the opportunity to speak to the Star Observer about his values, equality and how he treats his responsibilities hosting a national news and current affairs show seriously — especially when humour is involved.
The comic and TV host discussed policing at Mardi Gras in 2013 and didn’t mince his words. He was affected by the now-viral video of Jamie Jackson Reed being slammed to the ground by a police officer but he acknowledged the significance of the 78ers coming back to lead the parade.
“I think last year was very unfortunate. It was really disturbing vision. Thank God for cameras on phones. It was disturbing vision but it served as a very timely reminder,” he said | Read more
MELB: JEWISH COMMUNITY GROUP MAKES LANDMARK ANTI-HOMOPHOBIA MESSAGE
A RECENT statement from a leading Melbourne-based Jewish group that said homophobia was unacceptable has been hailed as a turning point for the Victorian Jewish community’s relationship with its LGBTI members.
The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) has been ramping up its LGBTI-related activities over the past few years, including signing up to the No To Homophobia campaign and convincing over 25 of its member organisations in the Jewish community to do the same. Previous public statements by the JCCV have linked prejudice to negative mental heath outcomes for LGBTI people and said it was “okay to be gay”.
Executive director David Marlow responded to calls by the co-convenor of LGBTI Jewish organisation Aleph Melbourne Michael Barnett to clarify the JCCV’s position on homophobia | Read more
BRIS: QUESTIONS RAISED OVER BRISBANE CITY HALL RAINBOW FLAG BAN
BRISBANE Council has been praised for approving moves to light Story Bridge in rainbow colours for IDAHO but its Lord Mayor has been caught out on his statement of not allowing the rainbow pride flag to be raised at Brisbane City Hall.
Announced yesterday by council’s Field Services Committee chairman, Cr David McLachlan, Story Bridge will for the first time be lit in rainbow colours specifically for International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) on May 17.
This news came following Tuesday’s heated debate in council’s Question Time, where another suggestion raised by Cr Victoria Newtown to raise the pride flag at City Hall for IDAHO was shot down by Lord Mayor Graham Quirk – who stated he preferred “actions rather than symbols” when it came to representing the Brisbane LGBTI community | Read more
INTERNATIONAL: ARIZONA GOVERNOR VETOES ANTI-GAY LAW
ARIZONA Governor Jan Brewer has vetoed a bill that would have allowed businesses in the US state to discriminate against gay and lesbian people on religious grounds.
Senate bill 1062 would have given business owners the legal right to refuse service to anyone if doing so would conflict with “sincerely held” religious views.
Brewer, a Republican, said she was unconvinced the bill addressed an issue of religious liberty in Arizona and argued its broadly-defined powers could have “unintended and negative consequences” | Read more
CELEB: THE DALI LAMA SHOWS SUPPORT OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE
THE Dalai Lama has expressed his support for the LGBTI community but condemning homophobia in an interview with American television personality Larry King.
“It’s really bullying and homophobia that is morally wrong,” he said.
When asked about homosexuality and gay rights, the Dalai Lama answered: “That’s a personal matter. People who have a special tradition, you should follow according to your own tradition. … But non-believer, that’s up to them. Different form of sex? So long as it’s safe, okay. And fully agreed? Okay.” | Watch Interview