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Having sent emails to Government representatives, I thought it time to see how the opposition felt about the issues I was raising.  So I sent the following email to Mr Andrews:

 

Dear Mr Andrews

I am writing to you as Shadow Minister for Families, Housing and Human Services as I believe the issue I am raising with you would fit within the purview of your portfolio.

On the 17th of May this year, the world observed the International Day Against Homophobia.  In the days leading up to that event, I emailed a number of both local and Federal Labor politicians with regard to their position on homophobia and the issue of same-sex marriage.  The emails, in part, said:

“Tuesday May 17th is the International Day Against Homophobia. This is a day on which people of all status can make a stand, according to their capacity, against the discrimination and ignorance that is still directed toward the LGBTI community. ……………I hope you will make a public stand on this matter and tell the constituents of your electorate that you do not support such bigotry. Please lend your voice to those who speak out in support of letting people love whom they choose without fear of hatred and reprisals. We have come such a long way - please help us continue this journey to equality.”

I would hope that the Liberal Party would be among the voices that speak out against bigotry and discrimination and that, in fact, your party would provide a leading voice amongst those groups and individuals doing so. I am heartened by a number of statements in both a section of your website called Our Beliefs and in your party platform.  As I read both of these, I copied them into a document which I have attached.

These comments relate to your Party’s commitment to “giving all citizens equal rights under the law”, “tolerance of others” and ‘the family as the fundamental institution for the raising and nurturing of children and for making each individual an integral part of society.” Of particular significance is the belief that “The foundations of modern Australia are its freedom, its opportunity, its tolerance and its egalitarian sense of fairness - all foundations which Liberals are committed to protecting and strengthening.” And it is heartening to read that “As ours is a party for all Australians, Liberals care about the well-being of all, not just particular lobby groups or sectional interests.”

With these sentiments in mind, I would put to you the same request that I did to your political opponents:

"I would also be grateful if you could tell me your position on ensuring, through legislative change where necessary, that LGBTI people will have full equality under the law to all other members of our society.”

I thank you for considering my correspondence.

 

As yet I have recieved no response.

 

Some f the statements in the party literature that stood out for me are added below.  They may be worth mentioniing the next time anyone speaks with a Liberal politician.

 

 

Liberal Party Beliefs

 

Quotes from “Our Beliefs”,  http://www.liberal.org.au/The-Party/Our-Beliefs.aspx

And from “The Federal Platform”

  • In a just and humane society in which the importance of the family and the role of law and justice is maintained.
  • In equal opportunity for all Australians; and the encouragement and facilitation of wealth so that all may enjoy the highest possible standards of living, health, education and social justice.
  • In the inalienable rights and freedoms of all peoples; and we work towards a lean government that minimises interference in our daily lives; and maximises individual and private sector initiative

giving all citizens equal rights under the law

 

The foundations of modern Australia are its freedom, its opportunity, its tolerance and its egalitarian sense of fairness - all foundations which Liberals are committed to protecting and strengthening.

 

The needs of Australian families are important in building a strong social fabric and a sense of community.

 

Respect for the individual implies tolerance of others.

 

This is why Liberalism is the enemy of privilege, sectional interests and narrow prejudice.

 

Liberals support the family as the fundamental institution for the raising and nurturing of children and for making each individual an integral part of society. Liberals recognise that the values, choices and actions of families have a profound influence on the welfare of the nation and that the interests of families should be at the centre of national policy making.

 

Creating opportunity and security for Australians is the basic aim of Liberal social policy. As ours is a party for all Australians, Liberals care about the well-being of all, not just particular lobby groups or sectional interests.

 

In summary, Australian Liberalism holds that individual people matter most, that the family is the most fundamental institution for development of the individual, that strong civil society is the most effective way to advance shared community interests and values, and that government exists to serve people and not the reverse.

 

Liberals support an independent judiciary to ensure that governments stay within the law and that all citizens are treated with impartiality and justice.

 

Liberals believe in a society in which all children have the opportunity to develop their potential and all people have the opportunity to achieve.

 

In creating opportunities for Australians, Liberals will:

• recognise the importance of families and good parenting to children in policies that protect and strengthen the family;

 

 

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Comment by Andre Stoffels on June 14, 2011 at 12:58
I guess we all have our own thoughts about how things should be done.  I suppose I tackle situations like this in the way I would hope people would approach me.  I know if someone disagreed with something I believed in and tried to push me into a position where I had to justify my belief or made me feel challenged, I would respond defensively and just as aggressively.  Rightly or wrongly, I prefer to have a conversation in which the issue of disagreement can be explored without, certainly in the initial stages, making the other party feel as though I am being overly critical or demanding they change.  I set out to try to understand their position and why they believe what they do - to get them to explain it to me in a way that they are comfortable with.  I just do it in a way that I hope is less confronting.  More often than not, it seems to me, where people are trying to reconcile conflicting ideas and beliefs the less direct conflict brought into the situation, the greater the chance there is of finding common ground.  By demonstrating an openness to someone else's views, I think, you invite an openness to your own words.  And I also feel that it leads to less outcomes where you have winners and losers.  Rather,I feel it is more likely to produce results where all parties feel they are winners.  Does this always work?  Of course not!  Do I always do it this way?  Also of course not!  But I'll keep trying to do it this way because that's just who I am.
Comment by Rainbow Family Tree on June 14, 2011 at 11:30
Thanks for this Andre! Handy things to quote... In reflecting upon my meeting with Andrew Southcott I was struck at how little I pushed him to define or justify his position. Several people have asked why I didn't ask him outright why 'this is a difficult issue for the Liberal Party'. He actually noted that he thought 'my approach' (conciliatory) was more effective than a possible, more 'aggressive', alternative. Interesting, huh? Still thinking about it... and the way people 'listen' to difference...

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