Marriage Equality’s New Face

by Cary Bass-Deschenes

There’s a petition urging the newly elected cross-benchers to oppose a plebiscite, just launched by new G.A.Y. campaign group > just.equal.justequal

“Newly-elected cross benchers have the power to stop a plebiscite on marriage equality and secure a free vote. We could see marriage equality in weeks, not months or years.

Cross benchers could be critical for ensuring marriage equality is voted on in parliament without a costly, divisive and damaging plebiscite.”

The petition – which drew 600 signatures in less than 24 hours – is the brainchild of a new community campaign group just.equalestablished “to promote community based activism to address legal & social discrimination faced by the LGBTI community.” 

The instigator, and founder of the group, Ivan Hinton-Teoh, talks to the stirrer about the new activist group.

To join &/or sign the petition click here > just.equal

Hinton-Teoh was until recently the ACT representative of Australian Marriage Equality, a director and a prominent and highly visible face of the organisation, but after recent internal ructions, has apparently decided to employ his undoubted skills and extensive contacts elsewhere. He has founded his own organisation, just.equal.

Australian Marriage Equality

Declining to discuss AME, Hinton-Teoh is focussed on the task in hand, looking forward, not back. He told the stirrer:

First order of business is to see if we can get our allies who are at the negotiating table, Xenophon, Wilkie, McGowan, to say a free vote is non-negotiable.

The task at hand [the petition] needs to be the story because it’s the most exciting point in the campaign to date. We have a possible minority government situation where our allies are finally in a position to negotiate FOR equality, not block it.

He argues that events in the USA have changed the situation, and the G.A.Y. community has an opportunity to go on the front foot, changing the nature of the conversation we need to be having.

The tables may have turned. Late last year it was apparent anti-LGBTI activists, increasingly desperate to push against change, had broadened their targets to include Safe Schools, trans young people & LGBTI families.

Then Orlando happened and the PM said, notably, that “our freedoms” were under attack: like our freedoms were the same & we were on the same side! You may have seen my Facebook response to that – I was incensed.

“Our” freedoms weren’t attacked. LGBTI people’s freedom of even basic safety was. It made me realise that too many people think like the PM, that we are equals already, that we’re on the same team. We’re not.

Hinton-Teoh argues that G.A.Y. activism needs to find new ways of pressing our case, and new organisations to add to the pressure for change. just.equal is his response, where he intends to put his experience with AME to good use.

Click here to join &/or sign the petition > just.equal

I’ve made some great connections over the last five years, so support came swiftly. I’ve also made some great new allies in the last few weeks that will ensure just.equal can harness the best social movement tech available to us. We need ways to mobilise our broad ally base across the country whenever we need them to step up & be champions.


He hopes that what he’s now building will be able to do that. The first order of business is to see if the G.A.Y. community can get our allies who are at the negotiating table, in a position to force the issue – Xenophon, Wilkie, McGowan – to say that a free vote on marriage equality is non-negotiable.

It’s the kind of tactic our opponents have used in the past to stymie with progress with successive PMs. Now it’s our turn to apply some leverage.

It creates a situation where whoever forms government  will be unable to do so, if our allies hold firm. That’s what the petition is all about.

The new organisation has longer term aims too.

Too many people think like the PM, that we are equals already, that we’re on the same team. We’re not. Across the country in the various states and territories, our freedoms and privileges are different and we continue to push against those who oppose sharing our freedoms equally.

It was at this point that the concept of just.equal formed. A new grassroots driven lobby group that is broadbased, can build the capacity to direct activists across the country to help place a focus on any LGBTI rights issue, so we can lift all boats.

Click here to join &/or sign the petition > just.equal


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)