Friday, November 18, 2005

Clemency Appeal

If you feel it is appropriate, please click on the link below, and please e-mail the authorities in Singapore. I have included the e-mail addresses, subject line, and text below, so that it is a simple matter of copying, pasting, and sending.

E-mail addresses -
Subject line - Van Tuong Nguyen
Body of e-mail -
Dear Prime Minister, Minister, Attorney General, Your Excellency
I am appealing to your Cabinet to urgently reconsider granting clemency to Australian man Van Tuong Nguyen who will otherwise be executed for drug trafficking.
I believe the death penalty is the most cruel and inhumane punishment and is an appalling abuse of the most fundamental human right - the right to life. Van Tuong Nguyen is a young man with no prior criminal conviction who does not deserve to pay the ultimate price for this mistake.
I understand under Singapore's Constitution, clemency can be granted in rare circumstances and that Van Tuong Nguyen's case fits the criteria - I believe he has always shown remorse, confessed at the earliest opportunity and cooperated fully with the Singaporean authorities and the Australian Federal Police.
I urge your government to show compassion and grant clemency to this young man.
> Yours sincerely

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Look Below the Waterline

A couple of offhand remarks lately have made me realise how little people know about what goes on behind the scenes on a program like the Rainbow Report.

One – a seasoned broadcaster – said, ‘People don’t realise how much work you put in – it’s only half an hour on air but two hours preparation.’

Another – a listener and community activist, referred to the quantity and quality of information ‘you provide on the Rainbow Report so effortlessly.’

Stifling my hollow laughter, I said to the latter, I may glide across the airwaves like a swan, but if you look below the water you will see that I’m paddling like fury.

An average day goes something like this:

8am latest. Fire up the computer. Read through all the emails received overnight and reply to any that need a response. Look at all the news alerts I receive from various wire services re: news stories of possible gay interest. Download any interesting stuff I think I might want to use, or might be useful for reference.

9am. Start trawling through my ten favourite gay news service and radio websites for possible stories. Click on any interesting links and download any possible stories and soundbites. Then visit a selection of gay and lesbian websites around the world: my list of favourites contains 9 Australian, 9 European, 6 Asian, 4 African, 4 Middle Eastern, and the grand-daddy of them all, 16 in the USA. That’s 58 websites – not counting the ones where I click through to others to find the story – maybe another 20.

Also during this time: from the diary of upcoming events, requests for interviews, local knowledge, whatever, decide who I’d like on the show today/soon and place calls, send emails, sms’s. Mostly I get voicemail and answering services.

11am. Review what I’ve collected. Decide what fits in the Roundup, what merits a longer piece, what goes on The Spike. Some of them may not be useful directly, but there may be a local angle. For the last couple of days there have been a series of reports from the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network documenting bullying in US schools on a state by state basis – who should I call locally for comment and comparison with the local situation. Place more calls, emails, sms’s. Write, record and produce Roundup – two versions, one for tonight, one for tomorrows repeat.

12am. Lunch. If no-one’s called back, start to panic. Draft outline script and running order for tonight’s show. Do some chores about the house. Answer phone calls, set up interviews – most people call back during their lunch hour.

1pm. Time out – Divert the phone to the answering machine. Soak in a bath. Read the papers.

2pm. Set off for Joy

2.45 – 3.00 Arrive Joy. Fire up studio 2 and start doing phone interviews. If I have a live guest, that’s only one pre-record. If not, that’s two. The actual interview aired may only be 5 or 6 minutes, but that’s up to half an hours work – getting them online, pre-interview chat, often to relax their nerves, the interview itself, which, unedited, is probably 8-10 minutes long, then wind down, thank them. Sometimes do three or more interviews to get ‘stock’ for future show. Try to have more than I actually need, especially if live guests are scheduled that night – you never know if they’ll show, and as a no-music show, I don’t have the luxury of throwing to a track in an emergency.

4pm. Move to production booth. Finalise the two editions of the Roundup and upload to MD. Edit the pre-records and upload to MD. Any downloaded overseas radio material or contributor material – review, edit, revoice segments where necessary. Pre-record any of my own comment pieces.

5pm. Off to the newsdesk. Finalise running sheet, with timings. Realise I have a couple of gaps. Write the show script with all the linking material. If I have live guests, pre-phone to confirm they’re still available, have right phone number. If not, decide what I’m going to replace them with. Try for another live guest, hope I have a usable pre-record, or plan to pad.

5.45. The script is locked, no matter what. Now open up newswire service and decide what stories I want for the evening news bulletin. Download, craft bulletin script, pre-read bulletin and show script. Correct where necessary. Give program support any info people might ring in for, or warn them if program is likely to be controversial. Brief panel operator.

6.15 – if I’m lucky. Toilet break and cup of tea. Deep breathing


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Rainbow Report, Tim Newton and HIV

Text of Tuesday broadcast............

Monday night I aired a piece by Tim Newton in the course of which he said: that 'we all know how to avoid HIV infection, it's been drummed into everyone, and especially the gay community, and there can be very few excuses, and therefore little sympathy, for those who become infected from having unsafe sex.'

That sentence upset a lot of people, and after the show I received a number of responses. Unfortunately they didn’t arrive in time to air during the show, but given the strength of feeling on the issue, here’s a selection.

Listener Reaction

The piece on HIV by Tim Newton was absolutely appalling! You have lost me as a Joy member and a listener. You should be ashamed of yourself

Doug’s piece on HIV with Tim left me shell shocked – his opinion is pathetic and disgusting

Many of my friends are positive, I am not, saying they deserve it is uncalled for, we’d appreciate not hearing those comments

I was disgusted with Time Newton. His views on HIV are outrageous. No matter how much care you take in life shit can happen. Why is this unsympathetic person allowed to voice this crap on Joy.

My Response

I've listened again to Tim’s piece, and run it past several other people, and though his view could be considered harsh, I think he's been misunderstood. The segment that caused the offence went as follows:

He said: 'we all know how to avoid HIV infection, it's been drummed into everyone, especially the gay community, and there can be very few excuses, and therefore little sympathy, for those who become infected from having unsafe sex.'

He did not say that HIV positive people deserve it. He did not say that people who, despite taking care, become infected. He said people who nowadays, despite all the available education and information, have unsafe sex – in other words, barebackers, people who choose not to take care - have VERY FEW excuses, not none; LITTLE sympathy, not none.

Imagine I’m 20 years old. I’ve drunk a few stubbies and I’m driving my mate home in the ute. He doesn’t fasten his seat belt and I don’t insist. I drive too fast, wrap the ute round a pole, and wake up paralysed from the neck down. My mate is dead.

We’ve both seen a million commercials about not drinking and driving. And another million about fastening seat belts. Yet now I’m in a wheelchair and my best mates dead, because of the choices we made.

Do I have any excuses? Not many. Do I deserve sympathy? Maybe some. Do I WANT sympathy? Or do I want to face up to my responsibilities and do what I can – however inadequate – to try to make amends?

I’m the creator and producer of this program as well as it’s presenter, and I took the decision to air Tim’s piece. I’m sorry that it has hurt and offended some people. Clearly Tim could have worded his comments more precisely. But I’m not sorry I put the piece to air.

The show is called the Rainbow Report because the rainbow represents diversity – and that includes diversity of opinion. I’m not in the business in silencing opinions that you or I might not agree with, or that some might find offensive.

There are people who would prefer that certain topics not be aired, that certain opinions not be expressed, that debate be stifled.

I’m not one of them. I believe in free speech. I don’t believe in censorship. I’m not Phillip Ruddock, or John Howard.

I’m Doug Pollard, and you’re listening to the Rainbow Report.


It seems that a lot of you have reacted strongly to comments of mine aired on the Rainbow Report last Monday. Firstly, I would like to thank Doug for making sure my exact words were replayed and fully understood.

Secondly I would like to apologise to those that either misheard or misunderstood what I said. My comments were not meant to harm or vilify those living with HIV or AIDS, indeed I have many friends in this situation who I love and cherish, one an ex-partner My comments were directed at those who, with full knowledge of the consequences, knowingly expose themselves to HIV by partaking in unsafe sexual practices.

Finally, the comments are an opinion, an alternative opinion, and a personal opinion. The opportunity to air them is a responsibility I take very seriously. They are not gratuitous, they are well considered. I understand that many of the subjects we broach on the Rainbow Report are sensitive but that is no reason not to share a view and discuss them. The Rainbow Report is a voice for the gay community, the entire community. I heed all the comments, good and bad, and I'm proud that, as a member of this station, I'm able to participate in free speech along with the rest of you.

Now it may be that I'm kicked off for airing this opinion and, of course, I take full responsibility for what I said.

I'm Tim Newton for the Rainbow Report.


an email from a listener

Hi Doug,
I am a HIV+ man and I believe Tim Newton’s comments with respect to undeserved sympathy for HIV+ people are disturbingly misleading and without merit, however, they do deserve airing because many gay men are unaware that this level of subliminal, and sometimes outright, disaffection exists comfortably within our own community.

Whilst I am not aware of where Mr Newton’s authority lies in this matter, I am aware that the “safe sex” campaign he refers to is not fool proof. Firstly contemporary terminology refers to a “safer sex” campaign not a “safe sex” campaign. Secondly I have met gay men who are still unaware of what is risky and what is not, despite all the so called education. For example some gay men actually believe kissing a positive person is a risk or using condoms completely eliminates the risk of contracting HIV.

The second point I would like to make is that HIV+ people do not want or need sympathy. Sympathy that is not financial will not result in anyone creating any practical solutions that assist positive people or lead to finding a cure.

Telling people who contract HIV that they only have themselves to blame is wastefully emotive and the same logic could be used against smokers who contract smoking related diseases, drinkers who contract drinking related diseases, recreational drug users who develop problems or die and eaters who contract diet related conditions. I wonder if Mr Newton has even one of these habits or a similarly bad but human habit?

The question we need to ask ourselves is: do we wish to live in Mr Newton’s ‘dog eat dog’ country, or world for that matter? Mr Newton is one step away from condoning discrimination against HIV+ people and again discrimination serves no useful purpose in the battle against AIDS. I recommend Mr Newton go to the “God Hates Fags” website so he can see for himself that there is already enough useless rhetoric concerning HIV/AIDS in the world today.
Thank you Doug for airing these comments. It is important to expose people’s feelings about all of the issues that affect us in this day and age so that we can, as individuals, make truly informed decisions.
Hawthorn East

Monday, November 14, 2005

Last Two Weeks

I'm now in pre-holiday mode - the Rainbow Report comes to an end on November 25 - that's only two weeks away. Hopefully I'll be back on air in February, and in the meantime we need to work out what we have learned from the experience.

What we need to make life easier:

A producer - someone to work behind the scenes researching and suggesting stories, telephoning potential interviewees etc.

A co-presenter - love doing the Friday shows with Cath Pope!

Regular specialist contributors.

A sponsor!!!!!!!

Issues for debate - got any ideas?

Time for show - if 6.30 no longer possible, when? If RR stays daily, suggestions so far have included 12 noon, 7pm, 8pm

Day - if we switch to weekly or bi-weekly, which day/days? Suggestions so far include Monday and Friday (Start/Stop the Week), Wed/Sat.

Frequency - do we stay with daily or shift to weekly, bi-weekly?

Length - if RR is not on air every day, do we switch to one or two hour format?

Content - depends on the above - but what would you like more of? Live studio discussions? Ability to phone-in and participate? If longer but less frequent - include music? What kind?

Saturday, November 12, 2005

What is wrong with people who take drugs?

Last night on the Rainbow Report (11.11.2005) I looked at the issue of dance parties and the associated drug culture, with the help of Tim Newton and Adam Pickvance.

Tim asked the question - what is wrong with these people who take these drugs?

I don't have a complete answer - who does - but I put in my two cents worth.

This is what I said:

In 1967 I was 17 yrs old, still in school, fairly certain I was gay and desperate not to be. I didn’t know anyone else who was. Everything I could find on the subject was relentlessly negative, full of words like ‘sick’, ‘abnormal’ and ‘unnatural’. When the issue made the papers, it was stories of blackmail and murders.

And there was a lot about homosexuality in the papers in 1967, because that was the year the law finally changed in Britain. Well, I thought, at least I won’t face the prospect of going to jail if I do give in to my ‘unnatural’ urges and have sex with another man.

Things have changed a bit since then – but not as much as we’d like to think. There are still plenty of people who like to label us abnormal and unnatural and sick. Now there are a lot more people and organizations to prove the opposite. There are books, television programs, even a radio station, if you’re lucky enough to live in Melbourne. But too many kids are still brought up to think there’s something wrong with them, that their natural desires are bad, sinful, sick – take your pick.

So after you’ve discounted the usual reasons you drink too much and experiment with drugs when you’re young - such as, you want to find out what it’s like, and you don’t want to take someone else’s word for it – lots of us gay men do it because it seems to make it easier to do what you really want to do, which is to make a physical, sexual and emotional connection with someone else.

I say seems, because I’ve been there and done that. When I got to uni in 1968 I spent a lot of time trying not to be gay, not to give in to my ‘unnatural’ desires, and when I couldn’t do that any more, I got drunk and got laid. Or I got stoned and laid. Or dropped acid and got laid. Friends said to me, look, all you’re doing is self-medicating, and making things worse: what you really need is to see a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist fed me valium, and then I didn’t feel like getting laid at all. Not much of a solution, eh? And still gay.

A study this year of gay men coming off crystal meth in New York discovered that most of them had been doing just what I used to do: using drugs to overcome their own self-doubt, fear and hate. They couldn’t reach out and make that connection they desperately wanted without some chemical help, because they’d all been taught, throughout their childhoods, that being gay was bad. Seems like nothing much has changed for many people, in thirty years.

I was lucky, I pulled myself together and got out of all that. But before I started losing friends to AIDS, I’d already lost many to the bottle, barbiturates, the despairing razor blade across the wrists or the rope thrown over a tree branch. What saved me was getting involved in fighting for gay rights with the Gay Liberation Front, helping to start Britains first gay newspaper, Gay News.

Instead of blaming myself for the way I felt about being gay, I now put the blame where it properly belongs, on all the bigots and fools who want me to think I’m somehow less than human, undeserving of equality and respect, because I’m gay. Today of all days it seems appropriate to say, maintain the rage.

The battle against party drugs and drug-fuelled nights on the town, for many gay men, won’t be won by society coming down ever more heavily on the drug users themselves. It’ll be over when gays and lesbians are fully accepted – not tolerated but accepted – members of society. Till then there will always be those who think they need drugs to help them feel good about themselves – our job is to understand and help them through, keep them alive, not condemn them.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Thank goodness for passion

An unexpectedly moving occasion at an initially tepid Joy AGM last night: amidst the usual grey pre-programmed for-God’s-sake-be-careful-and-stick-to-the-script speeches by officials and management, the vote-by-rote shows of hands, the uncontested elections (and what does that say about us, I wonder), relief came in the form of the inevitable witty, wise and erudite speech by Adddam Stobbbs (I’ve thrown in some extra consonants, to be on the safe side), a funny fake news broadcast by Tim Lennox, and some genuine passion.

Chris Furneax, who looks after membership, moved himself – and most of the rest of us – to tears with his speech, when he declared that now, at Joy, he’s found the best years of his life. And Paul Anthony, who only joined us a year ago, and at the other end of the age spectrum, also brought tears to all eyes as he struggled through his very emotional declaration that Joy had given him purpose, too. Thanks guys, that’s why we do it, too.

The Hub

Jeff Hood, the new president, summed it all up well, when he said Joy was at the hub of the Melbourne gay community. He stepped out from the podium and asked us to look at him, hardly the stereotype of a gay man, a misfit and uncomfortable in what most people think of as the gay community – the pubs and clubs.

He reminded us, that’s only part of the gay community: it consists of the ‘scene’, sure, but also the people in community organizations, sports clubs, those who don’t belong to any organization . . . . . the list goes on. Joy is unique because it’s a radio station, and radio goes where nothing else can. It’s over the PA in stores, on the phone systems when you’re put on hold, in cars, in the most private of spaces: it sits at the hub of gay Melbourne. It’s the glue that connects it all together, the crossroads, nexus, hub, whatever you want to call it, where all the diverse parts of our world come together.

Joy’s ethos transcends that of the ‘community: it refuses to be PC or peddle the tired jargon of activism, while giving activism time and space; it does not require or impose the narrow superficial standards of the scene, but acknowledges the place of fun and celebration in our culture; it is the polar opposite of exclusive, a place where gay men and women of all types work together mostly in harmony; it acknowledges that if diversity is to mean anything, then everyone has a right to disagree and voice that disagreement, while respecting the right of everyone else to do likewise; and finally, because of all the foregoing, it is at one and the same time the most frustrating and the most fulfilling place to be.

Thunderbirds are go!

The danger lies in any one view predominating. At present the station is spendidly schizophrenic: during the day it’s a gay bar or club; at 6.30 (7.00 again come December), the dance floor flips over like a scene from Thunderbirds to reveal the diverse groups and agendas that drive the community.

A tenuous continuity is maintained by having, for example, specialist shows about particular types of music on the evenings, threading entertainment content into the more serious hours. And there are similar threads of ‘serious’ content woven through the daytimes, usually in the form of ‘bite size’ interviews on politics, health etc.. Until December my show, The Rainbow Report, operates as a sort of hinge between the two: it’s a major change in tone from Drive to RR!! At present it seems jarring, coming after three hours of light and fluffy music and entertainment programming with no news – it would be less of a shock if the hourly news bulletins etc. had remained in place.

I’m becoming a little concerned that the undoubted improvement in daytime programming is starting to destroy this important connecting ‘threading’ – there’s more and more music, and fewer and fewer chat breaks. It’s all getting ironed out and becoming rather bland. The trade-off is moving perilously close to an unfair deal.
And, news is now less frequent overall than it should be – if you’re going to cut news bulletins down to around 3 minutes, then you have to have more of them, at least every hour through the day, with longer bulletins during breakfast, lunch and tea. That way the threads are retained.

Ah well – if there were no battles, there’d be no movement, no life. We must all continually shove each other out of our respective comfort zones – as Adddddam said, that’s where the creativity comes from.

I'm worried that we might be spending so much time and attention decorating Jeff Tracey's lounge, but are we forgetting the rescue machinery that's the purpose of the organisation?

Expatica's French news in English: French lesbians 'inundate' Belgian fertility clinics

Shortage of Belgian wankers

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Shoot To Kill

The state premiers all say that John Howard didn’t include a shoot to kill clause in his initial presentation of his anti-terror laws that they signed off on.

Well of course he didn’t - he neither wants nor needs it.

It’s a classic diversionary tactic.

The Prime Minister added that section after the initial presentation, knowing it would cause the premiers, press and public to blow up and say they couldn’t possibly support it.

That neatly takes all the attention off all the other much more dangerous, anti-democratic and illiberal parts of his proposed so-called anti-terror laws. You know, the preventative detention, the control orders and all the other building blocks of a police state. The stuff he REALLY wants.

In due course Mr Howard will graciously ‘bow to the will of the people’ and the premiers, and take out the shoot-to-kill stuff – which he never really wanted in the first place, and, as he admits, doesn’t need anyway.

This fake ‘concession’ will leave him with all the really scary, dangerous and unnecessary powers to cow dissent and stifle free speech, which were what he wanted in the first place, totally intact and in no way watered down.

If we, the people, the press and the premiers are dumb enough to fall for this one, we deserve everything we get. If you thought it was bad when innocent refugees driven from their homelands by the Bush/Blair/Howard wars got locked up in Pacific concentration camps, wait till they start shoving Australian citizens into our own Guantanamo Bays.

Or do we think it’s just coincidence that all those so-called ‘detention centres’ have been emptied and mothballed, rather than demolished?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Hate speech and other animals

Edited transcript of part of my Rainbow Report broadcast Friday 21 Oct 2005

I want to say something about hate speech, vilification and other assorted curbs on free speech.

I’m beginning to think they do more harm than good.

If you stop people from saying what they think in public, will it stop them saying, or thinking it? No – they will just go on saying, and thinking, and spreading those thoughts privately, out of sight.

And things that are underground have a habit of getting worse.

For example, before we had the so-called war on drugs, there were relatively few heroin addicts, and once they were registered with their local doctors, they were guaranteed a regular pure supply at a reasonable cost.

They had no reason to commit crimes to get enough money to feed their habit. They had no reason to sell heroin to others to feed their habit – though a few undoubtedly did, it was relatively easy to track and control, because almost all addicts were registered. Rogue doctors and users could be brought under control relatively quickly and easily.

Likewise there was little incentive for crooks to get involved in the trade, when their sources of supply were of lower quality and higher price. As a result, there wasn’t much of a heroin problem.

Then along comes the war on drugs, addicts can only get heroin substitutes from doctors, creating an instant market for the real thing, which crooks were happy to supply. And they didn’t need to worry too much about quality control.

Now the equation is reversed: addicts have every reason to steal, to become dealers themselves, anything to maintain their supply. In short, the cure is worse than the disease.

I suspect hate speech and vilification laws are the same.

Let the arguments of the bigots and hatemongers be heard, and countered, in public. Otherwise they will only be propagated in private spaces out of the public eye, in places where no counter-argument can be made. Susceptible people will hear only one side of the argument, not both.

Besides which, hate speech and vilification laws mean these people can complain they’re being victimised – and you know what – they’re right. They are being punished simply for speaking their minds. They may be deluded minds, but that’s no reason to silence them.

If a precedent is created that says certain thoughts are not permitted, certain things cannot be said, there is nothing to stop the same principle being applied when the political wind shifts to another quarter.

Hate speech and vilification laws have softened up the public to the point where they seem prepared to accept what was previously unnacceptable, for example, the current so-called anti-terror laws, without much of a murmur.

These laws will punish people for saying things that could be construed as encouraging or supporting terrorists. I say we should let people say those things if they want to – then we will know who they are. If they are forbidden from saying them, then they will be driven underground, where they will flourish out of sight.

After all, there have always been terrorists, just as there have always been junkies, and we’ve lived with that and coped with that for hundreds of years.

I think we have more to fear from the people who are pretending to safeguard us than we have from any so-called terrorist.

The Romans used to have a saying: who will guard the guardians? Meaning, if you give great power to a group of people, trusting them not to use it against you, how will you make sure they don’t?

It’s doubly troubling when the government department that is charged with, in effect, deciding what we can and can’t say and think, will be run by the man who built and ran what was effectively a network of offshore concentration camps for refugees whose face, according to the government, didn’t fit. The vast majority of whom, I may remind you, have since been found to be genuine refugees by any normal standard. Now the same man will be in charge of building and running what will effectively be an onshore police state.

Anti-hate speech laws are what started us down this slippery slope.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Taking a Break

I may have a little time to post the occasional story here over the summer months: Joy 94.9FM has informed me they want to ‘rest’ the Rainbow Report over the summer season, which means the last show will be on November 25.

The decision is mainly driven by the lack of a sponsor: Denholm Alcock have been terrific, supporting the show for six months, but they have decided to focus their efforts elsewhere, and no other sponsor has come forward.

In addition:

(Removed at the request of Joy management)

Critical error

Personally speaking, I’ll be glad of a break, and in fact was planning to take about a month out over Christmas and New Year. But three months is over-generous.

(Removed at the request of Joy management)

I believe it’s a critical error to take the show off-air for a whole three months at such an early stage in it’s life. The RR was initially a shock to many who tuned in expecting more of the bubbly and upbeat music show that Damian provides, but it has built and continues to build a loyal following. And not a few people to whom I’ve spoken are angry the show will be pulled just after the most successful membership drive ever, which netted more than 1300 new members, many of them pleased that Joy, via the RR, was finally delivering the sort of wide-ranging global community news and current affairs content that had been missing from the station.

So: if you know of a generous sponsor, if you'd like to volunteer to work on the program, if you'd like to express your thoughts on taking a break for thee months, email . I'll pass everything on to the appropriate person at Joy


Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Community Radio Membership Drive

It's that time of year again: Spring comes around and Joy Melbourne 94.9FM - Australia's first (and I think only) 24/7/365 radio station is having it's annual membership drive.

I'm particularly keen to sign you up as a member because I present my daily current affairs show, The Rainbow Report, there.

We're a community radio station, which means most everyone who works there is a volunteer. We do have a certain amount of commercial sponsorship, but we're limited as to how much we can earn through that (by law), so we rely mostly on listeners becoming members.

Most community radio stations sell subscriptions, but we sell memberships.

The difference is that members get to vote for the committee of management, and to volunteer to work at the station. Joy belongs to it's listeners.

You don't have to live in Melbourne to listen or be a member: we're streaming live on the web.

It costs A$40 a year for full membership, A$25 if you're eligible for a concession, A$20 if you're under 18.

So please, join up and help keep us on air.


Doug Pollard

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Hospital stops gay man giving blood

John Hooper in Rome
Monday September 5, 2005
The Guardian

Italy's health minister has condemned a decision by one of the country's biggest hospitals to stop a gay man giving blood.
A 39-year-old writer was turned away from the Policlinico hospital in Milan after telling staff he was gay. Paolo Pedote said he had been informed that, although Italian law allowed him to give blood, it was "internal policy" not to accept gay male donors.

The health minister, Francesco Storace of the formerly neo-fascist National Alliance, called the decision "very serious and unacceptable". Announcing an inquiry, he said: "We intend to determine the administrative responsibility. But what has happened could also be grounds for a criminal investigation."

The director of the Policlinico's transfusion centre said he stood by his staff's decision. Paolo Rebulla said his department had "a fundamental duty to protect patients who receive blood". It was ready to take responsibility for its decisions which were based on "strongly prudential criteria".
In an interview with the Milan-based daily Corriere della Sera, Professor Rebulla said the hospital's policy was to exclude adult males who had had sex with other men in the previous five years. He said "authoritative studies and a broad medical literature" showed they were more likely to be HIV-positive.

Prof Rebulla added: "In the case presently under discussion, there are [also] certain factors relating to the risk of the partner."

He said tests carried out on donated blood had "margins of error, albeit very small".

Until 2001, prospective donors in Italy were obliged to make a declaration on their "non homosexuality".

A law introduced 10 years earlier had banned outright the giving of blood by anyone who had had "man to man sexual relations".

But the rules were changed under a centre-left government to apply to high-risk behaviour rather than categories of people. Anyone who acknowledges having had more than three partners in the last 12 months is now excluded.

However, Prof Rebulla said the law continued to give doctors room for discretion.

Gay rights groups said at the weekend that they had had several reports from other parts of Italy of hospitals implementing policies similar to the one adopted in Milan.

The Arcigay association said: "The incident which took place at the Policlinico is merely the tip of an iceberg that rarely surfaces in the press. It is a widely spread phenomenon because of the homophobia of many health workers."

A centre-left MP said he had tabled a question for the health minister seeking assurances that the law would be applied in such a way as to "allow donors to fulfil their duty and obligations without any form of discrimination".

But Mr Storace's predecessor, Girolamo Sirchia, deplored the controversy saying "the only priority for doctors is the care of the sick".

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Homophobia Survey

Everyone is getting very steamed up over the survey that has revealed that two thirds of Australians no longer think homosexuality is immoral - because they're focusing on the one third we still have to win over. Two thirds looks pretty good to me - one third still means there's a long way to go. But........

Rodney Croome has been expressing puzzlement at the news that parts of Tassie are among that recalcitrant one third, yet reporters on the ground can't find anyone to say anything bad about us.

It's no great mystery: it's what's called the limit of tolerance. There's no contradiction. On the one hand, they can - - logically - see that it's wrong to discriminate or to encourage discrimination. So they'll put up with us being around - but that doesn't mean they like us. In fact, in their heart of hearts, they don't. They'll tolerate us the way I tolerate the neighbour's incessantly barking dog, which isn't to say I wouldn't happily go after it with a Kalashnikov if I had one and thought I could get away with it.

That's how 'tolerant' people think of us.

It's a major mistake we and they have made: we thought tolerance was enough, but by itself, it's not. It's only a way station, a truce, some common ground we can occupy while we cautiously get to know each other and take the first steps on the truly hard road - the road to ACCEPTANCE.

That's a very different beast, and it can't be legislated. It's something every one of us has to work for every day in our personal lives, at home, at school, at work, shopping, playing sport . . . as out gay people. Tolerance was relatively easy: we just stayed more or less the same, and asked them to change to meet us. Acceptance means we as individuals and a community have to change, too, to meet each other in the middle.

They tolerate us because they know that BEING gay can't be changed: but if you listen carefully to what they say, what they DON'T like is this thing called 'the gay lifestyle'. Sex-on-site venues, so-called 'dance parties' - actually thinly disguised orgies - casual sex in public toilets, drug use . . . . . need I go on? These are things we as a community have to tackle and probably have to grow out of to achieve acceptance.

Otherwise we can settle for being being tolerated - just - and the Kalashnikov will be waiting under the bed for us. Just in case.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Matthew Shepard Online Resources - Religious Right Hate Speech - Nazi Propagandavs. Religious Right Anti-gay Rhetoric

Well what a surprise_ judge for yourselves, but it looks to me like the New Christians are just another species of Old Nazi.

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Seattle Times: Local News: Born gay? How biology may drive orientation

Being gay is not a ‘lifestyle choice’ – being religious is.

I’m getting a little tired of people arguing over whether we’re born gay, or whether it’s a lifestyle choice that can be changed with the judicious application of just the right amount of brainwashing and electric current. The science is in, and it’s as plain as a pikestaff – for those who want to see –being gay is just part of the normal spectrum of human variation, like green eyes or blonde hair.

The people who steadfastly refuse to see this have all made what really IS a lifestyle choice – to be religious. And even there, the dam is melting. The Revd. Smid of Love in Action in Memphis, the man who locks up gay teenagers to brainwash them with anti-gay guilt, (for a suitably large fee, of course) admits that some people are born gay, and you can’t change them.

This new orthodoxy says you were born that way, but you don’t have to act on your ‘impulses’. You can suppress them, even to the point of being able to function sexually with a woman, marry, and have children. The Rev’d Smid even admits to being one such man himself. Hallalujah!

But Smid says his faith compels him to believe that if he acts on his ‘impulses’, then he’ll never get to heaven and he’ll never rise again at the second coming. Instead he’ll die forever. Better to commit suicide while still pure, he tells his young charges, than give up the struggle and ‘relapse’ into a ‘gay lifestyle’.

What is faith? The irrational belief that something is so, when there is either no supporting evidence, or when what testable evidence there is, all points to the opposite.

So the question is not – did I choose to be gay, or was I born that way?

The real question is – did the Revd Smid choose to be Christian? Of course he did. Religion is not genetic – it is learned. Why does he choose to think in this manifestly dysfunctional manner, live in this fantasy world that is damaging him and dangerous to those he comes into contact with, when there are very fine doctors and therapies that could cure him? And why do we permit it?

I didn’t choose to be gay: but the Revd Smid did choose to be religious, did choose to be Christian, did choose this particularly virulent strain of Christianity, and did choose to foist it on others for his personal profit. But with love and care and appropriate therapy he could be cured. He might feel the occasional irrational urge to pray, but it could be fought down and controlled, with appropriate help. Like a male prostitute who wants to come off the game, he could be taught a trade and become a useful member of society.

Gays and lesbians don’t choose to be what they are – but Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Pagans, Wiccans DID choose their lifestyle. They chose to live this way. And they could - and should – be helped to choose to change.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

A Gay American Teen Reveals the Hell Some Can be Put Through by Parents and Others

Ugh! What sickos these self-styled Christians can be, locking up teenagers to brainwash them!

As a sample of the kind of thing they tell these kids:

I would rather you commit suicide than have you leave Love In Action wanting to return to the gay lifestyle. In a physical death you could still have a spiritual resurrection; whereas, returning to homosexuality you are yielding yourself to a spiritual death from which there is no recovery.
- John Smid, who runs the Love in Action programme in Memphis that claims to "cure" gays

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Condom Fatigue

Condom manufacturer Trojan says young people are engaging in risky sex by not using condoms during oral sex.

Pardon my cynicism, but my first reaction to this was that it was a grab for greater sales by the manufacturer.

Now I don't know about you, but I detest condoms. The sight of a condom pack - let alone the sound of one being ripped open - induces instant flaccidity. And I am not alone - studies show one of the reasons for the increase in risky sex among gay men is condom droop, leading men to either top without one, or turn bottom when their erection is lost, or both.

Since I'm as scared as the next fag of catching HIV, and since negotiating condomless anal sex is about as exciting as listening to my partner rattle off AFL stats - anal sex has been off my menu for the last few years. Sex is the most intimate possible skin-on-skin contact - a rubber destroys that.

Now I'm being told to use a condom during oral sex. So what do I do now? Give up sex altogether?

The Trojan report says more than 60% of gay men won't use a condom during oral sex because they don't like the taste - no argument there - and says that can be overcome by using one of their flavoured varieties.

Well, to put it crudely, when I suck a dick, I want to taste dick, not rubber, nor even strawberry, mint, citrus, salt'n'vinegar or roast chicken. I want skin on skin, mucous membrane on mucous membrane.

Reports suggest more than a third of men feel - and react - as I do when it a condom appears on the menu.

We're starting to see ads for mentholated condoms - cool on contact, heating up with friction, pleasant flavour - in an attempt to overcome both condom droop and the yuck taste factor.

Durex is said to be going one stage further, developing a condom impregnated with a viagra-like chemical to stimulate and maintain hardness, which is due for relase in a few months.

Bully for them - but in the meantime, what do we do? What do YOU do?

Saturday, May 21, 2005

We have liftoff

After many false starts my plans for a daily half-hour GLBTI news and current affairs show on Joy Melbourne 94.9fm ( have finally come to fruition.

Start date is 6.30 - 7.00 pm AEST Monday May 30th.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Is marriage what we want?

I'm not a desperately social animal, so it was something of an adventure for me to get out to a farewell party for a friend who is off to work on radio in Vietnam for the next couple of years. There I met a charming group of young lesbians - not listeners to Joy 'because the music's crap' (well it is mostly chosen by dance-party gay bois), but very interested in GLBTI news from around the world and my Rainbow Report.

"So what's the big gay news right now?" challenged one. So I gave a rundown on the Fiji case, and mentioned the ongoing battles over gay marriage around the world.

I was asked what I thought about gay marriage, and I gave the standard answer - it's important that we should have the same rights, responsibilities and opportunities as anyone else, so although I was somewhat personally ambivalent about gay marriage, I thought it was essential.

"I don't agree," said my questioner, "I think we should be campaigning to abolish marriage and have civil unions for everyone."

I don't think I'd go that far, but I immediately thought of France, where they introduced "Civil Solidarity Pacts" (civil unions to you and me), but made them available to anyone regardless of sexual orientation. Marriage remains reserved for hetero's.

Since they were introduced, lot's of heterosexual couples have chosen them instead of maarriage - either as a stepping stone on the way, or as a genuine and more egalitarian alternative, without all the religious and ownership overtones of matrimony.

So it seems to me the best all-round discrimination-free solution is to craft civil unions open to all as the only state-sanctioned legal-coupling mechanism, and let marriage be a purely religious event with no state involvement. Relationships would be recognised on the signing of a civil union contract, and those who wanted the additional frills and furbelows of marriage could go to church/mosque/synagogue/temple and have a marriage as the icing on the wedding-cake.

After all, aren't church and state supposed to be separate anyway? What are these religious people doing usurping a state function - the legal sanctioning of a domestic partnership - anyway?

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Not in my name

Another of those "wish I'd said this" columns. The Guardian can be tediously PC at times but hits the nail firmly on the head with this one.

How dare Tony Blair genuflect on our behalf before the corpse of a man whose edicts killed millions?
Polly Toynbee / Friday April 8, 2005

With the clash of two state funerals and a wedding, unreason is in full flood this week. Yet again, rationalists who thought they understood this secular, sceptical age have been shocked at the coverage from Rome. The BBC airwaves have disgraced themselves. The Mail went mad with its front-page headlines, "Safe in Heaven" and the next day "Amen". Even this august organ, which sprang from the loins of nonconformist dissent, astounded many readers with its broad acres of Pope reverencing. Poor old Prince Rainier of that squalid little tax haven missed his full Hello! death rites through bad timing.

The arcane flummery brings forth dusty academics in Vaticanology, the Act of Settlement and laws of Monegasque succession. These pantomimes of power fascinate in their quaintness, but they signify nothing beyond momentary frisson. The millions pouring into Rome (pray there is no Mecca-style disaster) herald no resurgence of atholicism. The devout are there, but this is essentially a Diana moment, a Queen Mother's catafalque. People queue to join great public spectacles, hoping it's a tell-my-grandchildren event. Communing with public emotion is easy now travel is cheap. These things are driven by rolling, unctuous television telling people a great event is unfolding, focusing on the few hysterics in tears and not the many who come to feel their pain.

Bill Clinton had it right yesterday: "The man knows how to build a crowd." Curiously, the celebrity nature of this event - a must-do for 200 world leaders - signifies the opposite of what it seems. It shows how far people have forgotten what the church really is, how profoundly ignorant and indifferent they have become to history and theology. Hell, he was just a good ol' boy, wore white, blessed folk, prayed for peace - why not?

In Europe church attendance is plummeting, even in Poland, the heart of reactionary Catholicism. Here the young are clueless about the most basic Christian stories. How about the DJ who opened his show with "Happy Good Friday!" Art galleries now need to explain the agony in the garden, the raising of Lazarus and even the nnunciation. In surveys, half the population couldn't say what Easter meant. It is precisely this insouciant ignorance that lets people emote with the flow; they know not what they do.

The Vatican is not a charming Monaco for tourists collecting Ruritanian stamps or gazing at past glories in the Sistine Chapel. It is a modern, potent force for cruelty and hypocrisy. It has weak temporal power, so George Bush can safely pray at the corpse of the man who criticised the Iraq war and capital punishment; it simply didn't matter as the Pope never made a serious issue of it or ordered the US church to take strong action.

The Vatican's deeper power is in its personal authority over 1.3 billion worshippers, which is strongest over the poorest, most helpless devotees. With its ban on condoms the church has caused the death of millions of Catholics and others in areas dominated by Catholic missionaries, in Africa and right across the world. In countries where 50% are infected, millions of very young Aids orphans are today's immediate victims of the curia. Refusing support to all who offer condoms, spreading the lie that the Aids virus passes easily through microscopic holes in condoms - this irresponsibility is beyond all comprehension.

This is said often, even in this unctuous week - and yet still it does not permeate. He was a good, caring man nevertheless, they say, as if it were a minor aberration. But genuflecting before this corpse is scarcely different to parading past Lenin: they both put extreme ideology before human life and happiness, at unimaginable human cost. How dare our prime minister go there in our name to give the Vatican our approval for this? Will he think of Africa when on his knees today? I trust history will some day express astonishment at moral outrage wasted on sexual trivia while papal celebrity and charisma cloaked this great Vatican crime.

The editor of the Catholic Herald was somewhat Jesuitical when I argued with him in a BBC studio yesterday. He asked how the Pope could be blamed when all the church calls for is sex within marriage and abstinence. But abstinence and celibacy are not the human condition. If the Vatican learned anything about humanity, it would humbly meditate on 4,450 Catholic clergy in the US alone accused of molesting children since 1950, and no doubt as many in Catholic churches elsewhere still in denial.

The scale of it is breathtaking yet not at all surprising: most humans are sexual beings. A Vatican edict in the 1960s threatened to excommunicate anyone breaking secrecy on child sex allegations, and guaranteed that ever more children continued to suffer. And within its walls the Vatican shields an American priest from allegations.

Still the Vatican turns a blind eye to this most repugnant and damaging of all sexual practices, the suffering little children whose priests come unto them. Yet at the same time it thunders disapproval of sex in every other more innocent circumstance, blighting the lives of millions with its teaching on gays, divorce, abortion and unrealistic self-denial. There is no reckoning how many of the world's poorest women have died giving birth to more children than they can survive; contraception is women's true saviour.

In 1971 I interviewed Mother Teresa and asked how she justified letting starving babies be born to die on Calcutta streets for lack of contraception. She said sublimely that every baby entering the world was another soul created in praise of God, even if it lived only a few hours. She was never keen on cures: suffering was a gift of God that enabled those who cared for the afflicted to demonstrate their love. She was beatified by John Paul II for their shared religious mania. Those who met them talk of an aura of love, power, listening and intensity. But goodness is in doing good; good intent is no excuse for murderous error.

Today's saccharine sanctimony will try to whiten the sepulchre of yet another Pope whose obscurantist faith has caused pointless suffering; it is no defence that he was only obeying higher orders.

At the funeral will be a convocation of mullahs, rabbis and all the other medieval faiths that increasingly conspire together against modernity. Islamic groups are sternly warning the Vatican to stand firm against liberal influences on homosexuality, abortion, contraception and the ordination of women. What is it about religion that unites them all on sex? It always expresses itself as disgust for women's bodies, leading to a need to suppress women ltogether. Why is controlling women's bodies the shared battle flag of every faith?

Disgracefully, the European rich quietly ignore the church's outlandish teachings on contraception without rebelling on behalf of the helpless third-world poor who die for their misplaced faith. Those "civilised" Catholics have as much blood on their hands as the Vatican they support. They are like the Bollinger Bolsheviks who defended the USSR and a murderous ideology that they could do much to change. For today, just remember what lies beneath all this magnificent display.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Rex Wockner nails the gayisms we could - and should - do without

There are certain 'markers' which are taken to be indispensable to a gay identity, such as cruising saunas, doing circuit parties and so on, but in reality these are only the self-centred indulgences of a narcissistic minority. An honest gay identity isn't defined that way, says Rex Wockner, and I agree with him. As he says, be true to your self - there's nothing as sexy as authenticity.

Some years ago - too many to count - I remember a conversation with an older queen - the age I am now - who looked at me in surprise when I said I didn't cruise beats. What about saunas? No. What about parks? Backrooms? No. No.

Hmph! she snorted, so you're not really gay then, are you!!

Oh yes I am :-)

An Antidote to Grief

The instant hagiography being created around the late Pope makes me want to puke. This was not a great and good man, but a throwback to the era of medieval despots, the Inquisition, and the rule of theocracy.

Paul Varnell of the Chicago Free Press provides a salutuary counterbalance to all the current nonsense.

Watching the hordes pouring out their superficial self-indulgent grief over this person is strongly reminiscent of the orgy of self-flagallation that accompanied the death and funeral of another modern media 'saint' - Princess Diana.

Thankfully that orgasm of lachrymosity seemed to get Dubious Di out of everyone's system: since then she has more or less disappeared off the radar, her shrine unvisited, her memorial a joke, except to a faithful few.

I suspect the same thing will happen with JP2: once people are over the shock he'll be bundled off into the filing cabinet of history with a sense of profound releif. People loved them both, in the same way they loved Lisa McCune's character in Blue Heelers, but deep down, everyone is profoundly, if guiltily, glad they're gone. Hence the excessive ME ME ME LOOK HOW SAD I AM mourning. The prevailing underlying sentiment is actually one of THANK GOD THAT'S OVER!!!

Amen to that

From Rex Wockner's 'Quote Unquote"

"A portion of the gay population -- maybe 20 percent, [gay author and
historian Charles] Kaiser estimates -- conducts itself in ways that are
not only reckless but just plain disgusting. Unprotected, promiscuous
sex in bathhouses and at parties and using drugs such as crystal meth to
prolong both desire and performance are practices that should be no more
acceptable for gays than for heterosexuals. Gays don't get some sort of
pass just because they're gay."

--Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, Feb. 17.


"A straight man knows that if he knocks a woman up, he's on the hook for
child-support payments for 18 years. [I propose that if you] infect
someone with HIV out of malice or negligence ... the state [should] come
after you for half the cost of the meds the person you infected is going
to need. (The man you infected is 50 percent responsible for his own
infection.) Once a few dozen men in New York City, San Francisco,
Toronto, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, and Vancouver are having their
wages docked for drug-support payments, other gay men will be a lot more
careful about not spreading HIV. Trojan won't be able to make condoms
fast enough."

--Syndicated gay columnist Dan Savage, Feb. 24.


"We worry about homophobia, but what is more homophobic than for one gay
man to intentionally expose another gay man to HIV? ... This new and
deadly strain of HIV is not as lethal as our own amoral behavior. The
mortal danger to the gay community is not from a new bug or from an
intrusive government or from a frightened public, it is from our own
selfishness, arrogance and indifference."

--Former Philadelphia AIDS Task Force counselor Harry E. Adamson writing
in the Philadelphia Daily News, Feb. 28.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Fox News - The Unbiased Medium

Fox News hosts muse about gay rights

The Big Story host John Gibson in his March 16 "My Word":

Gays can't have kids -- other than going to the abandoned kids store and getting one or two, or borrowing sperm from someone with more sperm than brains -- so by definition they're out of the marriage game.

Sean Hannity on the March 16 edition of Hannity & Colmes:

BOB BECKEL (guest co-host): Let me just say one thing about the Boy Scouts. The Boy Scouts, when they allow gay Boy Scouts in the Boy Scouts, then that won't be a problem for me. But they don't.

HANNITY: But they can have the Gay Scouts if they want, if they don't like the values of the Boy Scouts.

Bill O'Reilly on the March 15 edition of Westwood One's The Radio Factor:

O'REILLY: You know, the Founding Fathers didn't write anything into the Constitution about gay marriage. Because back then, if you were gay, they hung you.
So -- you couldn't get married 'cause they put you in the rack. You know, if you were runnin' around wearing a chartreuse hat, you were in lots of trouble. So, we didn't even have to worry about these people gettin' married because if they come out of their closet in the log cabin -- somebody'll shoot them in the head. So, there really wasn't an issue back in the Founding Fathers.

The Stereotype is TRUE

The Singapore sgboy website has published A gay man's reaction to The Nation party , which strikes not a few raw nerves on the idiocy that passes for gay culture nowadays. Well what can I say! Read and learn.

We have indeed been consumed by the consumerist culture, haven't we?

I recall some years ago, working on HIM magazine in London, when the editor went to New York for a while and came back full of plans to publish lots of stories about party drugs, buffing up at the gym, and all the shit we now take for granted as part of 'the gay lifestyle'.

Well actually, folks, it ain't: it's the American gay lifestyle, invented in New York back in the 1970's and 1980's, and exported to the world courtesy of guys like my editor. He entitled his first series on gym-culture - Fit For Sex.

Dickburger Restaurants

Since then, every gay bar in the world has come to look like every other. Every dance party is the same. All the guys are the same. Instead of a burger chain, gay venues are now a series of near-identical dickburger joints

You can travel the world and everything feels just like the same, like you never left. In the days when I spent time in the US and Europe, I remember one evening in a gay bar in Boston Massachusetts. I'd had a few drinks, chatted to a few guys, but decided to head on home. There was a depressing sameness, been-there-done-that feel about it all, topped off by some guy who just walked up to me out of the gloom and opened the conversation with "come out back with me and I'll blow you," and then got really aggressive when I politely declined.

As I headed for the exit, I experienced a strange moment of dislocation, a variation on deja vu. I was not sure what city I would find on the other side of the door. Would it be London? New York? Amsterdam? Paris? Sydney? Did it matter?

It's only a cartoon, stupid

Inside, every place, every guy, is a clone of someone else, someone who never really existed except perhaps in a Tom of Finland cartoon.

Perhaps you think I exaggerate the influence of cartoons - not just Tof, but kids cartoons like He-Man, for example? There's one bodybuilder on and gaydar who doesn't have a pic on his profiles, just a cartoon of an impossibly musclebound lunkhead almost crushed by the gigantic barbell he's trying to lift, as an icon of what this poor deluded man is working to be. He hasn't figured out that the cartoon is a joke, an exaggeration. He's taken it as a straightforward illustration.

Lots of not-very-bright guys seem to have had the same moment of fake revelation: "Hey, if I inject a few steroids, spend a few mindnumbing hours a day in a gym, I can look like a cartoon, and everyone will want to fuck with me."

Often the very same dumbos think sexual reality means hey have to fuck like in the porno movies: so they use crystal, viagra, bum-numbing herbal gel, ecstasy, whatever, to render THAT fantasy into a semblance of reality.

The literal-mindedness of some people is astonishing.

This cartoon juggernaut of fake manufactured masculinity and sexuality has steamrollered almost all trace of any real gay culture into the dirt. Talk about society, marriage, children, the future, creasting a gay heritage? No time for that mate, working too hard getting buff and getting fucked.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Senator Kay Patterson

I have just received a response to my letter to the above Minister, which I wrote before the government passed it's ban on gay marriage. Despite the fact that faxes from this person spew out of the machine at the station several times most days (this woman's responsible for the pulping of countless trees!) she couldn't get round to responding till now, it seems.

Her letter - I won't bore you with it - is virtually a carbon copy of what many of you will have received on this topic from other government mionisters and MPs, and merely reiterates the governments actions and views, without in any way attempting to address the real issues involved. So I won't bore you with it.

But I will share my reply.

Yr ref: KP:br 01.05

Dear Senator Patterson,

Thank you for your (extremely belated) response to my correspondence on the subject of same sex marriage. I would like to point out a few things.

Firstly, the issue is not one of marriage, per se. The issue is equality and fairness, marriage merely the means.

I have been in a monogamous relationship with my partner for over twelve years now, which I think is fair to say is better than many heterosexuals – and even more politicians! – seem to be able to manage.

Yet our relationship is not recognised as having the same value or status as one of those common casual and temporary unions, merely because we are of the same gender. In order to achieve near-parity of recognition, we are forced to jump through a number of difficult and expensive legal hoops, none of which would be necessary if we could simply have our union recognised as having equal status and value to your own.

The simplest and most straightforward way to achieve this is marriage, with identical rights, privileges and responsibilities. This would send a clear message that we are equal citizens in this country.

I recognise that a lengthy period of ‘civil unions’ of steadily increasing scope would be necessary on the road to this, as has been embarked upon by many European countries, in order to accustom the generality of the population to the fact that we are, in fact, not really any different to anyone else.

The responsible course for any politician of any party is to lay out such a road map, complete with timelines and milestones, to redress the current inequality. This is something called ‘leadership’, in contrast to the servile and cynical pandering to a mob of hysterical self-styled “Christians”, in which your party has indulged itself.

Secondly, very onerous responsibilities are laid upon those who enter parliament and especially upon those who take ministerial responsibilities. Once you are in that position, you have a legal and moral duty to use your powers for the benefit of all Australians, and not just those who belong to your party, or vote for you. This is especially true in regard to minorities, for if this principle is not strictly adhered to, the rights of minorities can be trampled by the tyranny of the majority, as has happened in this instance.

Under normal circumstances ministers of low integrity avoid the odium of acting on behalf of minorities that their supporters dislike, by leaving open avenues of appeal to the courts. Indeed, the courts are the major bulwarks against this kind of abuse of majority power.

In this instance, not only did your government abuse it’s powers in legally enshrining second-class status for a significant minority of your citizens, but also acted in such a way as to bar all avenues of redress via the courts. This is dictatorial, not democratic behaviour, and you should be ashamed of having participated in it.

Thirdly, not only did you consign the said minority of your own citizens to second-class status, but you also abrogated to yourself the right to demote overseas citizens visiting or residing here, who are legally married in their own countries, to that same second-class status, along with their children, which clearly over-reaches your jurisdiction, and is an interference in the domestic affairs of other sovereign states. This is arrogance of a high order.

Your dry recital of the legal niceties involved in this insult does not even begin to address the issues involved, and contributes nothing to remedying the current situation.


Doug Pollard

Sunday, February 06, 2005

So-called "Christian" love

This piece may be about America, but the authors 'righteous anger' is something we could do with more of here in Oz - his responses have universal application. And you don't have to be Christian, or even religious, to appreciate the truth of Archbishop Bruce J. Simpson's take on recent evil court decisions resurrecting the 'gay panic' defence, along with others which set the value of a gay life at less than anyone elses. It all smacks of 'Jim Crow' for me - it's OK to murder a queer because they ain't worth as much as a straight white boy. And what are we doing about it? Hiding our heads in the sand.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Bland Ambition

Congratulations to The Australian for picking up this stunner of an article on the soppy, soggy girly versions of Greek heroes that Hollywood is churning out - and kudos to Mark Simpson for writing it. I was woo-hooing and leaping out of my chair, despite the miseries of a kidney stone.

If I may quote:

"The ancient world was a time when men were men - and the boys were nervous."

"Alexander, by the way, was not 'bisexual' in the way the publicity for the movie has carefully suggested. He was only 'bisexual' in the way that Elton John was 'bisexual' in the 70's."

"Macedonia - even by Greek Standards - was a giant, jumping, open-all-hours ancient leather bar. In fact, the ancient Greeks were scandalised by the 'barbaric' and 'beastly' behaviour of the Macedonians . . . . actually Macedonia was the kind of place that would terrify most of today's leather queens. . . the pre-Christian barracks erotica of Macedonia ultimately defeats Stone precisely because it is too masculine, too pagan. Stone is a liberal Judaeo-Christian pussy."

And much much more. Do have a read, it's a breath of fresh air.