Freshly Doug Monday

Tim Marshall

Prisoners in a chain gang

Today’s best news is the approval of rapid HIV testing, at last, in Australia. James Newburrie has more.

Also, good news that moves are afoot to bring Victoria into line with the rest of Australia and expunge ‘spent’ convictions for consensual homosexual acts. Since legalisation, these have remained on people’s records and shown up in police checks. Since the ‘crimes’ of which these men were convicted are no longer crimes, it’s time for them to be wiped from the record.

More good news which I’m sure you’ve all seen: the AFL appears to be moving to authorising a Pride Match (not a Pride Round as originally envisaged) between Hawthorn and Sydney. Kudos to Jason Ball, and to Jeff Kennett for lending his weight to this proposal. But it will not achieve all it might unless it’s backed up by some comprehensive regular specifically LGBTI anti-discrimination training built in to every level of Aussie Rules.

It’s fascinating to see that, around the world (but not in this colonial outpost) conservative politicians realising that if they wish to remain relevant to the coming generations, they will have to embrace gay rights and specifically equal marriage. And that the opponents are, to put it bluntly, dying out.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron is well aware of this, which is why he basically doesn’t care that his more extreme right-wing members are defecting to the UK Independence Party. His attitude is basically – Good riddance! The Australian Labor Party would do well to do the same with Joe De Bruyn and it’s own dinosaurs, especially if it wants to retain the LGBTI vote. They are a drag on Labor, not an asset.

There were strong pro equal marriage marches in France this weekend, countering the earlier Catholic Church driven ‘granny marches’ against, in case Francois Hollande was thinking of backsliding on his promises.

There’s hope for the future in some unexpected places. The Ugandan government may still find us a convenient scapegoat to distract the electorate from their thieving ways, but here’s a ray of light in Kenya, where they’ve just held their first LGBTI Awards event. And Jamaican gay rights group J-Flag is now working with local musicians who have dropped their homophobic songs and against boycotts directed at them.

That doesn’t mean everyone is onside yet: Israeli Rabbi Ya’akov Yosef has issued a ruling which prohibits taking private lessons with gay teachers. “If the teacher lives a perverted lifestyle, what is vernacularly called a homosexual, one must be very careful when studying with such a person,” he wrote. Charming.

And a lesbian Army wife has been banned from Fort Bragg’ Officers’ Spouses Club, apparently because she  is a lesbian.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)