tell your story - change the world!
I'm still finding my feet in my new world having only been out for a relatively short period of about 10 months. But I have emailed a few politicians (a new thing for me) on homophobia and equal love. One of them is my local Federal MP, Mr Nick Champion. Here's the correspondence so far - nothing brilliant but just me having my first go supporting an issue that is important to me.
On the 12th of May 2011, I sent an email to Nick Champion, Member for Wakefield. The email 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. As my local representative in the Federal Parliament, 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."
In a letter dated the 16th of May 2011, I received the following response from Mr Champion:
"Thank you for your email dated 12 May 2011.
The Government believes that the definition of marriage in the Marriage Act is appropriate. This is Labor Party Policy, decided by the National Conference. Any change to this position will have to be considered by the Australian Labor Party National Conference later on this year.
While not supporting same-sex marriage, the Gillard Government supports a nationally consistent framework for rellationship recognition to be implemented by the States and Territories. Victoria, ACT, NSW and Tasmania have established relationship recognition schemes and relationships recognised under these schemes are now recognised in a wide range of Commonwealth laws. The Government will continue to encourage other jurisdictions to develop such schemes.
The Government's commitment to removing discrimination was demonstrated by its reforms to remove discrimination from 85 Commonwealth laws. These reforms, which passed in 2009, remove discrimination and equalised treatment for same-sex couples in areas of taxation, social security, health, aged care, superannuation, immigration, child support and family law. These reforms extend to same-sex couples the same entitlements and obligations that apply to opposite sex couples. Equal treatment means some same-sex couples will get access to benefits they could not previously access.
Please contact my office if I can assist with any other Federal matter."
On 30 May 2011, I sent another email to Mr Champion and it said:
"I am grateful for, though somewhat bemused by, your response, dated 16 May 2011, to an earlier email of mine concerning homophobia and equal love.
My interpretation of your response leaves me unsure as to what your position really is?
What I read is this.
Firstly, the Gillard Government believes that the discrimination against same-sex couples enshrined in the Marriage Act is appropriate as this is current Labor Party policy.
Secondly, the Gillard Government actually doesn't really object to same-sex couples being recognised as long as it’s done by other jurisdictions and actually will encourage those jurisdictions to develop schemes that deal with this matter.
Thirdly, the Gillard Government is really against discrimination and has actually demonstrated this by legislative changes to remove discrimination from 85 Commonwealth laws.
The contradiction between the first and third positions is confusing. While the Labor Government deserves positive and appropriate recognition for the legislative changes that have been made, it astonishes me that the Gillard Government can still publically support a position that fundamentally still says we think it is right to discriminate against a group in society on the basis of who those people love.
To then mention encouraging “other jurisdictions” as a means of dealing with the issue merely says to me that the Gillard Government is not prepared to take the political risk it perceives to exist should it support the ethically correct position of removing the discriminatory elements of the Marriage Act. I understand I am demonstrating my political naivety when I ask whether it is possible these days for politicians to stand up for what is right even if it is only for a relatively small group of people. Or is everything only done because of the “numbers”?
In an effort to interpret your letter in an entirely positive light, could I take it that the demonstrated efforts of the Gillard Government to eliminate discrimination, against same-sex couples, from Federal legislation will be continued by its support for changes to Labor policy on this issue at the imminent National Conference and subsequently in amendments to the Marriage Act?
Thank you for considering this for me."
Add a Comment