OK, kiddo! Here are all the fantastically amazing posts tagged with Australia

Australian Parliament Votes Down Equal Marriage Rights

September 24th, 2012

A man in an airplane wonders midflight: "Why does everyone in this time machine have an Aussie accent? I'm starting to think we're not travelling to the past at all..."

I’ve always thought that Canada and Australia are similar in a lot of ways. It’s kind of like a parallel Canada with a warmer climate, more poisonous animals, and a superior electoral system. And now, like Canada once did, it’s going through some setbacks in its transition on the path to equal marriage rights.

Australia’s parliament voted down an equal marriage bill last week in a vote of 98 to 42. It’s a big disappointment for a lot of same-sex couples who will now have to wait before getting the same civil benefits that opposite-sex couples have.

Canada had some similar votes, not long ago. In 1995, Canadian parliament rejected a bill that would have allowed for civil unions by a vote of 128 to 52. Then, in 1999 parliament passed a motion affirming the legal definition of marriage as “the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others” by a vote of 215 to 55. Yet, almost four years later to the day, Ontario was finally issuing legal same-sex marriages. Before two more years could pass, nearly all the provinces had followed suit. On July 20, 2005 (coincidentally, the anniversary of my coming out date) a parliamentary vote had given equal marriage rights to every single Canadian, six years after an overwhelming defeat for equality in the house of commons.

So, to my friends in Australia: I wouldn’t fret too much over this setback. According to polls, popular support is already on your side, and—more importantly—so is history. You might be a few years behind Canada in rights, and more than a few degrees above Canada in temperature, but thanks to everyone keeping up the good fight, you’re still ahead of many other countries around the world and I’m utterly convinced you’ll be enjoying full equality much sooner than later. Keep it up!

Australia’s Gay Panic Defence Get Challenged

July 16th, 2012

Straight Panic Defence: A man punches a woman in the throat, screaming "I'm Gay!"

Slap reader Tim writes in with this bit of news from Down Under:

The gay panic defence has been a very real—and very unjust—legal tool in the past, including in Canada. Up here, it’s been invoked to explain assaults as recently as 2010, but has been considered a legal non-starter since its last successful use in 1994. (The murder of David Gaspard by Gary Gilroy was punished with a reduced sentence of only five years in prison after his killer cited gay panic as the reason for stabbing his victim 65 times.)

While this sort of bizarre logic is considered an antiquated relic nowadays, it’s strange to hear that Queensland still permits it. Stranger still, The Premier of Queensland, Campbell Newman, has actually defended it, calling its revocation “unnecessary.” Newman is no friend of the GLBT community, though. His government rolled back civil unions and cancelled funding for the state’s GLBT health service, the Queensland Association for Healthy Communities.

As for the gay panic defence, though, there’s something you can do: A petition has been started calling for the end of this legal antiquity, which has had no just purpose even when it was introduced in the 17th century. So, if you’re concerned about what’s happening in Queensland and you’ve got a few moments to spare, why not go and show your support?

Thumbs Up To Equal Marriage From Australia’s Governing Party

December 7th, 2011

Crocodile Dundee waves a magic rainbow wand, shooting sparkles at a mugger. "That's not gay," he says. "THAT'S gay."

The Australian Labor Party officially adopted policies in support of full equal marriage rights for same-sex couples last week.

That’s an encouraging sign, certainly increasing the likelyhood of a successful same-sex marriage bill being introduced in parliament.

Canada’s governing Conservative party, incidentally, officially adopted an opposite policy during its last convention, supporting the revocation of equal marriage rights for same-sex couples in Canada. But, given Stephen Harper’s history of plagiaris—err… I mean, enthusiastic imitation—of Australian politicians, perhaps the Tories will now reconsider.

Here’s wishing Australia the best of luck in its journey toward full, equal rights!

Australia Adopts Trans-Friendly Passport Rules

September 19th, 2011

A man sits at a Galactic Passport office. "Errorr," the attendant says, "Galactic passports require your gender: Czzrz or Froupi?"

Australia has adopted new passport regulations that allow trans citizens to select the gender with which they best identify.

Until last week, all people had to either list their birth gender (or assigned gender, if their birth gender was indeterminate), or undergo a full sex change operation if they wished to list their identified gender. Since some trans people can’t undergo sex reassignment surgery for medical reasons, this resulted in mismatches and holdups at borders.

In addition to the policy change, a new gender type called ‘X’ can be used for anyone whose gender has been indeterminate from birth or was assigned arbitrarily.

This is definitely a step in the right direction, although I’m not particularly sure why passports need to list gender in the first place. At least not since the miraculous technical advancement known as photography was made widely available sometime in the last couple of years (give or take two hundred).

Incidentally, legal changes to gender identity in Canada is provincial jurisdiction, with Canadian passports reflecting the provincial status. All provinces allow for legal changes to gender identity, but with different rules. The United States, it turns out, is currently mulling changes similar to those of Australia.

(Very special acknowledgments will now be issued to the astute Slap readers who alerted me to this story! Thanks, Matthew… Thatthew. Also: Thanks, Dana… Thana.)

Australian MP Wants His “Gay” Back

August 26th, 2011

Slap Upside The Head Presents: The Visual Bigot Test. Is this man a bigot? (An old man with a cowboy hat scowls.) Answer: By the HAMMER OF THOR, YES!

Same-sex marriage has been a fact of life in Canada for so long now that many of us have long forgotten the silly hysteria that led up to it. Yet, alas, anyone reading future history books will find that the mere discussion of allowing equal marriage rights for same-sex couples had prompted all kinds of vitriol about homosexuality in general throughout media and politics.

And so I draw your attention to Australia, which is currently entering the same silly throes that inevitably lead up to our equal rights.

Bob Katter, an independent MP, made all sorts of attention for himself last week when he declared that same-sex marriage deserves to be “laughed at and ridiculed.” An odd assertion on its own, but it was his comments on English semantics that elicit some very special ridicule today.

Speaking to supporters in front of the media, Katter waxed nostalgic about the time when the word gay meant “cheerful.” Quoting some old poetry, Katter called it “one of the most beautiful words in the English language,” before finally lashing out at gays: “No one has the right to take that word off us!”

Poor, poor Katter. Such trauma. Such injustice. What words are left for him to use in place of gay? Besides happy. And nice. And cheerful… Jolly, chipper, glad, jaunty, upbeat, lively, merry, pleasant, sunny, rosy, perky—you know what? I’ll just refer him to a thesaurus.

You see, no one has actually taken the word gay from anyone. There weren’t any regulating body offices for us gays to storm, after all. And dictionaries only ever report on existing usage patterns. No, the meaning of gay, like many, many other words, changed organically, evolving from popular usage. Gay people might have started using the word as a secret code in the 1960s to refer to each other, but it was the heterosexual majority that popularized that code into its full, modern meaning.

Of course, all this sentiment for the old meaning of gay is disingenuous to begin with. We clearly haven’t lost any expressive capabilities in this specific instance (again, please consult your thesaurus), and I highly doubt anyone could argue that changing words are inherently problematic. (When’s the last time you saw anyone lament that “terrific” no longer means “terror-inducing?”)

Here’s what Katter’s real beef is: The man resents homosexuality and doesn’t want any “nice” words to refer to us. People like Katter thinks they should be the ones who should decide what to call us. Well, tough beans, Katter. You already have an ample selection of nasty words for us at your disposal. I assume you’ve used them in private, and would be very interested to see if you’re ever brazen enough to use them in public.

Not to suggest that word gay will never change meanings again. English evolves, after all, but I expect that’ll only happen to “gay” again when gay people are finally fully accepted for who they are. One day, when there aren’t old coots like Katter around who are afraid of being associated—even fleetingly—with all things gay simply by using the word in other contexts, perhaps, then, other contexts will emerge. Until then, here’s a very special word that accurately describes Katter, and whose meaning has also changed radically within the past few decades: Douchebag.