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Welcome to the very last Rainbow Report. Don’t worry, this is not going to be one of those self-indulgent, let’s look back etc etc shows: just the last helping of the sort of news and information that I hope has been interesting you for the last eight years.
There is a measure of self-indulgence tonight, however, in that all the stories deal with things I am passionate about.
I have long campaigned for better and targeted healthcare for LGBTI Australians, especially young people, which is why I became a member of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on LGBTI Health & Wellbeing, bringing such issues to the state government’s attention. Chair of the committee, Mike Kennedy, joins me to talk a bit about what the committee is doing.
I’m also passionate about safe, wealthy countries like Australia doing as much as possible to make things better for LGBTI folk who live in countries where it’s dangerous, possibly even fatal, to be gay. So I have recently taken up a post as a Director of the Kaleidoscope Human Rights Foundation, and right now we are worried about an anti-gay crackdown under way in Sri Lanka ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference in November. Fellow Kaleidoscope director Douglas Pretsell has that story.
Fairness and equality are supposed to be part of what makes Australia Australian, but we need laws and agencies to make sure it happens in practice. One such is the Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission, a body so well respected by the state government that it has been allowed to languish without a properly appointed Commissioner since Helen Szoke resigned in August 2011.
The entire board resigned in June 2012 after state Attorney General Robert Clarke vetoed their recommended replacement candidate. Kate Jenkins has now been appointed to the role: she joins us tonight.
And last but by no means least, despite being the most unsporty person on the planet, I understand how important it is to have our own teams and tournaments: this weekend it’s gay soccer, as teams slug it out here in Melbourne this weekend for a stash of silverware, including the Julie Murray Cup.
Julie Murray is undoubtedly the best known and most successful womens’ soccer player in Australia, if not the world. She captained the Matildas, the national team, played at the Olympics, and had a successful professional career in the USA. I’m honoured to have Julie as my guest tonight.
Now comes the tough part. After tonight, I’m taking an extended break from being on air. Thanks to everyone at Joy who has supported and encouraged me. And thank you for listening: it’s been a pleasure to know you.
This is the end of the Rainbow Report, but it’s not The End. You can be sure, sometime in the future, I’ll be back. In the meantime, let the wise words of Lily Tomlin be your guide.
“I said “Somebody should do something about that.” Then I realized I am somebody.”
Please, all of you, be somebody. Every day.
This will be the penultimate Rainbow Report, counting down to the final show on October 3. Tonight, some bold new beginnings, and one sad goodbye.
Shelley Argent has been leading the charge for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays for more than ten years, but sadly, she is now stepping down to take care of her health. We take the chance for one last conversation, and to thank her for all she’s done.
The incoming government has lost no time in putting its boots on and marching to war on dozens of government organisations and programs that don’t fit with its ideology.
If you were listening last week you’ll have heard about the ACT Equal Marriage Bill and how the government plans to stop it, if it can. Ivan Hinton, of Australian Marriage Equality, explains why we need as many signatures as possible on the petition asking them not to. Sign here.
The arrival of a new government has emboldened all kinds of people to take a stand that perhaps exceeds their authority, and/or competence. Once such was the principal of Trinity Christian School, who forwarded a letter to the parents of students from the Australian Christian Lobby, urging them to vocalise opposition to the introduction of same sex marriage in the ACT.
Former pupil Michael Mazengarb swiftly organised a Facebook page for present and former pupils of the college to express their disagreement with the principal. In three days the page gathered more than 1000 supporters – and a rainbow crossing appeared in the school carpark. Michael brings us up to date with the campaign.
There’s just a brief window of opportunity left for LGBTI students who need help and support to apply for a Pinnacle Foundation scholarship: Chairman Sean Linkson explains. But you only have till the end of this month.
Any questions? Email me.
Well now that we’ve all picked ourselves up off the canvas it’s time to put our shoulders to the wheel and leaving no cliché unturned accept with good grace that it’s no good crying over spilt milk, and march boldly into the future with heads held high.
Or something like that.
The Victorian AIDS Council is doing just that, having restructured itself and adopted a strategic plan. CEO Matt Dixon explains.
The ACT Thursday morning will table a same-sex marriage bill, the first shot in the marriage battle since the Abbottaclypse. ACT Attorney General Simon Corbell tells us he wants Federal Labor to back him if Tony and the boys come after him.
And they have begun: the PM has confirmed that the government will seek legal advice, the first step to overriding this legislation. Australian Marriage Equality have started a petition to urge them not to, click here.
It nearly Bi-Visibility Day: Rebecca Dominguez of Bi Alliance Victoria is brought to us tonight by the often overlooked letter B in LGBTI.
Celebrate Bisexuality Day Monday, 23 September 2013, 7pm, Lord Newry Hotel, upstairs function room, 543 Brunswick Street. email for details
And finally, Tony Briffa may not be Mayor of Hobsons Bay any more, but there’s still work to be done. Tony has embarked on an ambitious plan to build an LGBTI alliance through all of Australia’s local authorities.
And then of course, there’s you. Please join us with your thoughts and opinions in the usual manner.
It’s been a great time. It wasn’t long after joining JOY in 2002 that my voice first went out over the airwaves. At first it was in Community Service Announcements. Then I was doing news bulletins.
Then I began making 3 minute bulletins of international gay and lesbian stories to be dropped into the broadcast schedule twice daily. It was called the Rainbow Report.
Station Management approached me to make a daily half-hour news and current affairs bulletin. Instead of 3 minutes a day, the Rainbow Report suddenly grew to ten times the size: 30 minutes a day, Monday to Friday, replacing the last half-hour of Drive. Fans of Damian Nicholas were at first not amused.
“I’m a young gay man in my twenties,” wrote one, “and at first my friends and I were really angry at you for stealing half an hour from Damian. But now when we sit at the bar in the evening, we often talk about your stories on the Rainbow Report. Thank you.”
The half hour show ran for six months, but failed to find a new sponsor and was pulled off air.
This generated some heated discussions among listeners, and also at the station. The show would return in a weekly, one hour format, management said, and as I was better suited to the role of producer than presenter, I wouldn’t be on air. Needless to say, management lost that one.
The Rainbow Report went off air again when a new manager (we burned through a few down the years) offered me a 3hr daytime slot, which I christened Freshly Doug. Later, another manager cut that down to 1 hour at lunchtime, and it became the Rainbow Report again. Finally, this time at my request, it moved one last time, coming to rest at its old home and current spot on the grid, 7pm on Thursdays.
During that time I have had the help and support of many people at the station, as producers (burned through a lot of them too!), panel operators, podcaster and cohosts, and if I try to list them all I am bound to omit someone and offend them.
I would, however, like to say a very special thanks, first to Michael Bayliss, and secondly to Todd ‘TJ’ Coleman and his partner, Corinne ‘Kezza’ Porter. Without such utterly reliable, skilled, dedicated and loyal panel operators / technical producers, the show could never have run as long or as smoothly. Thank you very much indeed. I treasure you.
Four more shows to do, starting with tonight. And then on to pastures new. Please, join me tonight and for the following three Thursdays, 7-8pm. Travel with me, keep me company, till we reach the end of the Rainbow.
Well, it happened. Kevin Rudd is consigned to history, unless he’s going to sit on the back benches stirring a cauldron and muttering “three time is the charm”, in which case we’re all screwed.
Meanwhile Tony Abbott is moving into Kirribilli. I’d check the curtain poles for raw prawns if I were you, Tony.
The world has changed, and we are going to have to change with it. The most obvious casualty is marriage equality: fat chance of that for at least 3, probably 6 years.
Australian Marriage Equality is regrouping and refocussing, appointing a new Director of Strategic Engagement. He’s the former chair of Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras (or whatever it’s called this week), Peter Urmson.
Change is also happening in the Defence Forces, with the prestigious Army Journal carrying an article by a gay servicemember Peter Dominic about the experiences of out and closeted personnel. Vince Chong of DEFGLIS joins us.
Tony Abbott won a commanding majority in the lower house, but with many young voters disengaged from the election process – over a quarter aren’t even enrolled – will his government be acceptable to them?
In a disquieting incident, provocative queer students from Macquarie Uni, were shut down by campus security when they tried to sell Fuck Tony Abbott t-shirts. We talk to Cat Rose, NUS Queer Officer, who made the shirts.
Other LGBTI advocates are worried that gains made under Labor might be rolled back: Morgan Carpenter, the new president of Organisation International Intersex Australia, worries their needs could fall off the agenda again.
Join me as we begin the final run to the End of The Rainbow.
This week I’m looking at MORE of those ‘should be an election issue but isn’t’ issues – this week, permissible discrimination, AIDS prevention, LGBTI age care, and gay refugees, as we head into the election and a new era in Australian politics.
One of the big barriers to LGBTI equality is the extremely generous exemptions to discrimination law given, for example, to religious-run schools. NSW state MP for Sydney Alex Greenwich is trying to change that, at least in his state.
Also in NSW, ACON, the former Aids Council, has come under stinging criticism from activist group New ACT-UP, petitioning NSW Dept of Health for the organisation to be reviewed. Veteran activist and spokesperson Tony Pincombe explains why.
No representative of ACON was available to join us.
The Kaleidoscope Trust is a UK charity, headed by the Speaker of the British Parliament, the Rt Hon John Bercow, that helps activists on the ground in countries where it’s illegal to be gay. Now they’re starting an Australian branch: Director Douglas Pretsell joins me in the studio.
And finally, I’ll be asking Victorian Liberal Senator Scott Ryan about the coalition attitude to the LGBTI health & ageing strategy put in place by Mark Butler, LGBTI refugees, and more.
Join us: send your questions to email@example.com, or message us during the show firstname.lastname@example.org / sms 0427 JOY 949.
The full podcast is now available below.
This week I’m looking at one of those ‘should be an issue but isn’t’ issues: gay conversion therapy – is it dead; the responses of the three major parties to other issues important to our community; plus we meet a couple of candidates from Melbourne Ports.
Earlier in the year you may remember we talked about how we might put a stop to the dangerous and damaging delusion that sexual orientation can be changed.
Much has happened since then, including the closure of the biggest ex-gay organisation, Exodus, and the feeling has been that the industry is dying, especially here in Oz. Or is it? Freelance journo Luke Williams isn’t so sure.
A raft of gay groups got together to ask the three main political parties for their policies on a range of issues affecting our community, that aren’t getting oxygen. The results are now in: Corey Irlam reveals all exclusively on the show tonight.
To round out the evening I’ve more conversations with candidates in important seats, and tonight it’s the turn of Melbourne Ports.
Last week I spoke to out gay Liberal Kevin Ekendahl. This week here in the studio I’ll have the Greens Ann Birrell and the Sex Party’s Melissa Star. Labor’s Michael Danby was also invited but his staff indicated he had other commitments tonight.
It’s held by the Shadow Minister for Small Business Bruce Billson, who, like almost all other Liberal candidates the Rainbow Report has approached, did not return calls, or even acknowledge them.
Dunkley is a marginal, with only about 1% separating Billson from his Labor rival, Sonya Kilkenny. The Greens are represented by Simon Tilley. And the effervescent Eloise Palmi, is standing for the Australian Sex Party.
Thanks to the last minute withdrawal of Sonya Kilkenny for personal reasons, however, I was unable to bring you the candidate round table as planned.
Instead, year 11 student Brenna Harding from the Wear It Purple campaign joined us straight from this years campaign launch: 70 schools are taking part in this anti-bullying day on August 30, up from 24 last years.
Wear it Purple Day was established in 2010 by two young Australians, in response to a number of suicides as the result of bullying based on sexuality and gender identity. For more, see wearitpurple.org or social media (Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr: @wearitpurple, Instagram: @wear_it_purple)
And finally, out gay Liberal candidate for Melbourne Ports, Kevin Ekendahl, following criticism of his how-to-vote card (which directs preferences to anti-gay parties like Family First & Democratic Labour), explains how he had no choice in the matter, and strongly asserts his support for same sex marriage.
Next week we’ll be heading out to Dunkeley, one of the most marginal seats in this election, to talk to the candidates there.
This week we’re looking at the safest Labor seat in the country, Nicola Roxons old home of Gellibrand.
I’ll be chatting with the man who probably expects to take the seat easily, Tim Watts from Labor. Snapping at his heels and hoping to take a big bite out of his majority is someone well known to JOY listeners, Green candidate Rod Swift.
David McConnell, from the Liberals, and Dwayne Singleton of the Palmer United Party, both send their apologies, as they have functions to attend. Independent candidate the Raw Food Vegan Doctor John Green did not respond to my messages.
Antony O’Neill made several unverifiable claims about gay couples during the show, including that same-sex couples earn 29% more than heterosexual couples. The Conversation has fact-checked that statement and discovered it’s largely untrue, though the picture is complex. Click through for details.
Are you feeling this election is one big yawn. All this pompous talk about the most important election for a generation etc etc sending you to sleep?
So far I haven’t heard anyone talking about the things I want dealt with. It’s a long list, but this week I’m going to look at four issues affecting our community.
Russia: it seems like every other civilised country is protesting against Putin’s Pogrom against gays that we talked about: we’ve an update from Chris Dite, with news of a chance to talk directly to Moscow activist in Melbourne (see last week’s post for details). Stephen Fry has elegantly outlined why this matters – see below.
Dangerous press monopolies: Murdoch’s national stranglehold is bad enough, but little local press monopolies have their dangers too. The Bairnsdale Advertiser’s the only paper in town, and their anti-gay editorials have already gotten one gay resident , Dave Eliott, bashed.
There’s a petition for this here
Marriage equality: is it an election issue or not? What’s Australian Marriage Equality doing in this campaign? Why are they only targeting coalition MPs, or is that just a Daily Telegraph beat-up? Rodney Croome explains.
Prostate cancer: it’s a bigger scourge than breast cancer but gets a tenth the funding and attention. And there’s virtually no post op support for survivors. Leah Costello from ManUP! explains what needs to happen. And what is being done to tackle the problem.
PS The wonderful Stephen Fry has written to the British PM about the situation in Russia. Here’s what he had to say:
Dear Prime Minister, M Rogge, Lord Coe and Members of the International Olympic Committee,
I write in the earnest hope that all those with a love of sport and the Olympic spirit will consider the stain on the Five Rings that occurred when the 1936 Berlin Olympics proceeded under the exultant aegis of a tyrant who had passed into law, three years earlier, an act which singled out for special persecution a minority whose only crime was the accident of their birth.
In his case he banned Jews from academic tenure or public office, he made sure that the police turned a blind eye to any beatings, thefts or humiliations afflicted on them, he burned and banned books written by them. He claimed they “polluted” the purity and tradition of what it was to be German, that they were a threat to the state, to the children and the future of the Reich.
He blamed them simultaneously for the mutually exclusive crimes of Communism and for the controlling of international capital and banks. He blamed them for ruining the culture with their liberalism and difference. The Olympic movement at that time paid precisely no attention to this evil and proceeded with the notorious Berlin Olympiad, which provided a stage for a gleeful Führer and only increased his status at home and abroad. It gave him confidence. All historians are agreed on that. What he did with that confidence we all know.
Putin is eerily repeating this insane crime, only this time against LGBT Russians. Beatings, murders and humiliations are ignored by the police. Any defence or sane discussion of homosexuality is against the law. Any statement, for example, that Tchaikovsky was gay and that his art and life reflects this sexuality and are an inspiration to other gay artists would be punishable by imprisonment.
It is simply not enough to say that gay Olympians may or may not be safe in their village. The IOC absolutely must take a firm stance on behalf of the shared humanity it is supposed to represent against the barbaric, fascist law that Putin has pushed through the Duma. Let us not forget that Olympic events used not only to be athletic, they used to include cultural competitions. Let us realise that in fact, sport is cultural. It does not exist in a bubble outside society or politics. The idea that sport and politics don’t connect is worse than disingenuous, worse than stupid. It is wickedly, wilfully wrong. Everyone knows politics interconnects with everything for “politics” is simply the Greek for “to do with the people”.
An absolute ban on the Russian Winter Olympics of 2014 on Sochi is simply essential. Stage them elsewhere in Utah, Lillyhammer, anywhere you like. At all costs Putin cannot be seen to have the approval of the civilised world.
He is making scapegoats of gay people, just as Hitler did Jews. He cannot be allowed to get away with it. I know whereof I speak. I have visited Russia, stood up to the political deputy who introduced the first of these laws, in his city of St Petersburg. I looked into the face of the man and, on camera, tried to reason with him, counter him, make him understand what he was doing. All I saw reflected back at me was what Hannah Arendt called, so memorably, “the banality of evil.” A stupid man, but like so many tyrants, one with an instinct of how to exploit a disaffected people by finding scapegoats.
Putin may not be quite as oafish and stupid as Deputy Milanov but his instincts are the same. He may claim that the “values” of Russia are not the “values” of the West, but this is absolutely in opposition to Peter the Great’s philosophy, and against the hopes of millions of Russians, those not in the grip of that toxic mix of shaven headed thuggery and bigoted religion, those who are agonised by the rolling back of democracy and the formation of a new autocracy in the motherland that has suffered so much (and whose music, literature and drama, incidentally I love so passionately).
I am gay. I am a Jew. My mother lost over a dozen of her family to Hitler’s anti-Semitism. Every time in Russia (and it is constantly) a gay teenager is forced into suicide, a lesbian “correctively” raped, gay men and women beaten to death by neo-Nazi thugs while the Russian police stand idly by, the world is diminished and I for one, weep anew at seeing history repeat itself.
“All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing,” so wrote Edmund Burke. Are you, the men and women of the IOC going to be those “good” who allow evil to triumph?
The Summer Olympics of 2012 were one of the most glorious moments of my life and the life of my country. For there to be a Russian Winter Olympics would stain the movement forever and wipe away any of that glory. The Five Rings would finally be forever smeared, besmirched and ruined in the eyes of the civilised world.
I am begging you to resist the pressures of pragmatism, of money, of the oily cowardice of diplomats and to stand up resolutely and proudly for humanity the world over, as your movement is pledged to do. Wave your Olympic flag with pride as we gay men and women wave our Rainbow flag with pride. Be brave enough to live up to the oaths and protocols of your movement, which I remind you of verbatim below.
Rule 4 Cooperate with the competent public or private organisations and authorities in the endeavour to place sport at the service of humanity and thereby to promote peace
Rule 6: Act against any form of discrimination affecting the Olympic Movement
Rule 15 Encourage and support initiatives blending sport with culture and education
I especially appeal to you, Prime Minister, a man for whom I have the utmost respect. As the leader of a party I have for almost all of my life opposed and instinctively disliked, you showed a determined, passionate and clearly honest commitment to LGBT rights and helped pushed gay marriage through both houses of our parliament in the teeth of vehement opposition from so many of your own side. For that I will always admire you, whatever other differences may lie between us. In the end I believe you know when a thing is wrong or right. Please act on that instinct now.
Yours in desperate hope for humanity
PPS I wrote to congratulate Stephen Fry on his intervention and ask if he’d like to talk about it on the show. I received the following reply from his PA.
Very many thanks for your email and I can quite understand the further interest Stephen Fry’s open letter raises. Stephen is now away writing and sadly not available for an interview and in fact feels there is nothing to add that isn’t already forcefully expressed to the Prime Minister.
Very best indeed.
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