Saturday, January 26, 2008

Australia Day'08 Harmony Park "Reclaim Our Rights" community vigil

My speech and some pics from the today's rally against homophobic violence.
Australia Day'08 Harmony Park "Reclaim Our Rights" community vigil

30 years ago our community marched for equality;

– and we were bashed at Darlinghurst, Green Park, Rushcutters Bay and anywhere that gay men dared be seen.

In 2008 has so much really changed?

This is 2008 not 1978 when Gays and Lesbians first bravely marched for our rights,

first fought openly for our equality just a few metres away.

Where they were met with violence.

Where they were met with oppression.

Where they were met with beatings.

Where they were met with official discrimination.

This is 2008 and we should not have to be standing here today – On Australia Day in 2008,

Standing here in a vigil

– demanding an end to the violence

– demanding an end to the discrimination

– demanding equality as Australians

– demanding equality as human beings

But we are standing here in angry protest!!

Have things changes in 30 years??

We are still second class citizens in our country,

And while the government treats us a second class citizens,

Whilst government scorns our relationships,

It is a passive partner in the violence against us!

For as surely as cowards bashed Craig and Shane - the government was looking the other way.

And the broader community was looking the other way,

And the church was looking the other way.

For until government recognizes our relationships,

Until government recognizes our existence as legitimate and equal,

others will not follow:

Others like the homophobes bashing gay people on the streets around us every night
bashing gays on the streets around Australia.

Until government dismantles all the official prejudices against us.

Until all levels of government do that – until that happens – how can we expect the violent cowards to understand,

That we are fellow human beings.

That we are valued members of the Australian nation.

All levels of Government have to share this responsibility:

The Federal Government – I don’t care what party you are – just get on with dismantling the 58 laws that label us second class citizens.

End those laws this year?

End those laws in February in the 1st weeks of the new parliament sitting.

Mr Rudd don’t back slide on your promises!!

Do it now – make us equal now!

In NSW – Mr Iemma, make us equal - give us Civil Unions in NSW –

let me marry my Danish partner as he can do in his home country

– and every single country of the European Union including Britain.

Make my relationship equal

before our families,

Equality before the parliaments

Equal before the laws

Equal before the people

Equal before the gay bashers.

Make it clear to gay bashers that bashing 2 gay guys holding hands is the same evil as bashing a married straight couple holding hands.

We are equal, our rights and aspirations are equal.

Our pain and injuries are equal.

And to the Council.

I say Stop the blame game

Put aside your turf wars with the state government

and baggage of 20 years

You can do more to protect this vulnerable community.

Fund more Police on overtime for Oxford Street

And if the Police will not take out pink tax money then fund teams of security guards
over the summer peak.

Clover - support me next time at Council when I want us to open a police station on Oxford Street and pay for the extra police.

Support me next time when I have a positive plan to confront this violence.

Council can do more right now by:

expanding the CCTV to cover hot spots around Crown, Goulburn, Bourke and Flinders Streets

Fund a late night Police shop front in the midst of the Oxford Street clubs or at Taylor Square

Install panic points at Taylor Square and Crown Street intersections

develop a policy of incentives to gay bars and clubs on Oxford Street to retain the gay

Now is the time for action - not more words.

The Council must move to protect our endangered Gay identity on Oxford Street.

Oxford Street is a gay street; we want it to stay a gay street
we don’t want permission to visit our bars and venues

30 years ago our community marched for equality

In 2008 has so much really changed?

Today right here in Harmony park – thanks to a motivated and caring community members - we are saying enough is bloody enough!

Give us our full and equal rights.

Government – stop looking the other way

and treating us as second class citizens condoning the violence against us.

Give us equality, give us protection and banish the hate in the hearts of a few of our fellow Australians.

I thank the organizers and all of you for coming along today.

Pics - top Shayne addressing the rally and bottom protesters march up Oxfrod Street

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