An Open Letter to Armidale’s Churches and Religious Congregations

It’s Christmas season, as well as an important time for several other faiths. A time for peace and goodwill to all. So Equal Love Armidale is calling upon the religious faiths and groups of Armidale to address the growing rate of bullying of Same-Sex-Attracted, Gender-Questioning, Intersex, Transgender, Bisexual, Lesbian and Gay youth at schools and the harassment and violence suffered by people in the community. In order to do this today was posted letters to every mail address we could find for faith groups and leaders in the community. Emails have just been sent out to everyone we found the email address of too. And a press-release sent to radio and newspapers. We hope that they all respond, for it’s not much that is being asked of them, and it’s something very Ethical, very Moral. Read the open letter for yourself, and feel free to pass it on to others.

A call to Armidale’s Churches and Religious Congregations

As we approach Christmas and the end of the school year it’s supposed to be a season of peace, of goodwill to all people, of compassion and giving and reflecting on spiritual virtues. And yet many of us live in a climate of fear all year round, many will be keeping secrets from their families for fear of losing them forever, many schoolchildren over the holidays will be dreading returning to school next year.

Because of bullying and violence faced by those who are or who are perceived to be same-sex attracted, gender questioning, gay lesbian, bisexual, transgender and/or Intersex. As evidenced for example in the LaTrobe University Writing Themselves In studies which has found that this bullying and harassment is increasing. The most recent of the series of studies may be downloaded from this address http://www.glhv.org.au/node/657

While religious views on these matters vary from denomination to denomination and with which translation or interpretation of the bible or other faiths holy texts they use I am sure that none of the faiths present in Armidale supports the bullying of children and acts of violence towards people because of their sexuality gender identity or expression which lead so many to attempt suicide.

So the group Equal Love Armidale is calling upon all the Churches and other faith groups of the region to publicly openly specifically condemn the acts of violence harassment and bigotry against GLBTI people, that occur in such high rates, as well as speaking out against all other such violence and harassment in this season.

We do not expect these churches to go against their doctrines on this subject or to support equal rights. We simply ask them to speak out to the community and to their own congregations against the violence, the bullying, the harassment of people who are different.

We ask them to remember the many calls to tolerance of those who are different in the holy texts of the world such as those in the bible like ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’, ‘Love thy neighbour as you love yourself’, ‘Vex not a stranger nor oppress him for you were strangers in the land of Egypt’, ‘Judge not lest ye yourself be judged’ and the many others.

In this season of goodwill and peace it should be very little to ask that a stand is taken especially against the rising tide of such harmful damaging bullying in schools no matter the doctrine or dogma on the subject and I am sure that every person of decency and faith would agree.

Bayne MacGregor
On behalf of Equal Love Armidale

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The lies about being Gay being worse than smoking

Many people will have read the letter in yesterdays local paper that claimed that numbers from Denmark show that Gays who get married die 20 years before heterosexuals who get married and that this makes being gay worse for your health than smoking.

The claims are rubbish.

They are based on discredited ‘research’ by a discredited ‘researcher’ expelled from the American Psychological Association years ago. An unscientific study that twists figures into pretzels in order to make such a claim. The fact that most Gays in Denmark who got married were young (and most are still quite alive) and therefore the only ones so far who have died had to have died young because those who will die old haven’t got old yet is ignored so they can make the false lying claim that being gay leads to an early death.

Rubbish claims like this are part of why so many ITBLG kids despair for their future. Claims such as this are part of the epidemic of attempted suicide. So tell everyone you know that those are lies. And here’s a link that gives all the details about the false claims.

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Our first Rally

Our first rally was held on Saturday. Despite a number of hurdles and all of us involved having no experience in organising public events we still managed to get there on time, with a sound system (though cameras it seems got forgotten, drat) right in the public heart of the city.

The turnout was small. There were of course some we know intended to attend but who couldn’t get away from work or family commitments etc and of course the whole cities population is smaller when University is out but more than anything the low turnout both of people we know from the GLBTI population and from those we know who are supportive of the aims of the rally suggests how intimidated people are by the climate of Homophobia, Transphobia and Intersexphobia that is allowed to flourish when it goes unoppossed in the community.

But there were still some ready to let the people of Armidale see that they object to the great cost to the community and the great damage done to peoples lives by homophobic violence, school bullying and the impact on youth suicide and other social problems.

And from our good position the words those of us on stage spoke reached many passers by and patrons of nearby stores and the courthouse cafe.

And we even were assisted in the point Kaleb was making about the harassment our community faces for actual or perceived sexuality and/or gender identity when one passer by shouted out “then go away you Poofta”. A perfect illustration of the problem we were talking about.

The rally had one journalist from the local paper the Independant covering it so it will be interesting to see how they cover it.

In making the first step of raising local public awareness of this heavily silenced, heavily oppressed part of the community and the injustice we face the rally was a success. And from it we can and will build further.

Thanks to everyone involved in organising, speaking at and supporting the rally and particularly those brave enough to attend.

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Transgender Day Of Rememberance

Today is the day used internationally to mark the deaths of Transgender people all over the world that are murdered.

And while Australia has less murders of Transgender people than many other countries a recent study in Queensland found that 45% of female to male transgender people and 46% of male to female transgender people have been assaulted and that 9% of female to male transgender people and a horrific 38% of male to female transgender people have been attacked with a knife bottle stone or other weapon. And the report says the problem in NSW is similar.

So please spend some time today to reflect on the fact that this part of the GLBTI community faces more violence than the rest and so is one of the most vulnerable parts of the community and one that needs us the most to stand up against bullying and violence.

The violence must stop.

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Homophobic Bullying in Schools on the Increase!

Despite or perhaps because of the increasing acceptance of Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender and Intersex youth by their Families Friends and Authorities there has been a measured increase in homophobic bullying in Australian schools with the numbers obtained by LaTrobe studies rising 2% each study from the late 90’s to right now.

The Age has an article about this and the study pdf should be available online soon.

Something needs to be done about this increase in violence and harassment. This bullying isn’t without impact, it can have long term effects on peoples lives, contribute to suicide attempts and have a substantial impact on the whole community.

The officials know about the problem, they must act or they are responsible for the harm done while they sit on their hands doing nothing.

And the whole of society needs to stand up and say no matter what the excuses that bullying harassment and violence is wrong and unacceptable and must be stopped. That something must be done to stop this extreme targeting of Intersex Transgender Bisexual Lesbian Gay and Same-Sex-Attracted youth and to protect and save those kids lives. And some of us are making sure that we make a visible stand against these problems with the Rally on Saturday the 27th in Armidale.

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Wear It Purple campaign to address problems at schools

The founders of the Australian chapter of the Wear It Purple campaign are looking to address the growing problem of Homophobic (and hopefully Transphobic and Intersexphobic) bullying in school. Sydney Star Observer has an article about this here.

I was impressed with what Katherine Hudson had to say when she spoke at the NSW Parliamentary Forum on Homphobic Bullying in Schools.

In response to the recent case of a school discriminating against a Lesbian couple wanting to attend their school formal together they are asking for people to email them if you face similar problems at your school. So if your school is failing you with their policies you can email wearitpurple@gmail.com

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Tony Windsor on Marriage Equality

From http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2010/s3068312.htm

LEIGH SALES: Let’s whip around some of the other subjects that are featuring in the political debate at the moment. What’s your view on gay marriage?

TONY WINDSOR: Well, I married a woman. Ah – the – I agree with the amendment that was put up last night, or the motion that was put up by Adam Bandt. I’ll be consulting with my constituents as to what they think and I’ll be representing their view. I’ll do it in the way – the similar way that I mentioned there earlier: I’ll survey the electorate to find out what their view is and I’ll represent that view back to the Parliament.

LEIGH SALES: So you wouldn’t be representing your own personal view then?

TONY WINDSOR: I don’t regard a conscience vote – and bear in mind I’m an independent, so every vote in a sense is a conscience vote, but it’s a conscious recognition of what I believe the electorate would want and I’d actually do that in this case as well. And I think that’s what we’re being asked to do: as members of Parliament, to go back to their constituency, ask the question and return to the Parliament with that question.

Some people get that excited – the party members get very excited, they think this is freedom that they can give their own view. I’ve never had that view. I think my view is to represent the people I represent, not myself.

LEIGH SALES: Nonetheless, what is your personal view?

TONY WINDSOR: Well, I don’t have a problem, as long as it’s not compulsory. I’m very happy with my wife.

LEIGH SALES: Do you think that community attitudes to gay marriage have changed over the time that you’ve been in public life? So, say, the past 20 years or so?

TONY WINDSOR: Well, same sex relationships, you know, are very common these days. The marriage word is the one – if there is to be a difficulty, that that may well be the issue here. I don’t have a problem with what, you know, consenting adults do. That’s their business. As long as people don’t interfere with my business, I don’t interfere with theirs.

LEIGH SALES: But do you think though that society’s views have loosened up on that though?

TONY WINDSOR: Slightly, but I think we’ll find out by referring back to our constituencies. And I think it’s very important that we actually do, as members, represent our constituency, not our private views.

I think this is – we’re not special people because we’re members of Parliament; we represent constituencies. And my private views and that of my constituency may be completely different. And I’ve represented things into the Parliament before that I haven’t personally agreed with, but that’s not – I’m no technical expert on everything and I’m there to represent my community.

So it’s up to the New England community to make sure we say loud and clear what we want our MP Tony Windsor to do!

I posted contact details for Tony Windsor previously here

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