The Australian LGBTIQ community continues to fight for equality here in Australia. But we need to take the time to educate ourselves and tackle the WORLD WIDE plight of inequality, and breaches of basic human rights our community faces. We need to learn not to be so insular that our fight becomes solely for the Australian LGBTIQ community.
We have many rights and freedoms already, and dare I say it, we take them for granted. We need to recognise our early activists in Australia, who gained such rights for us, in a far greater way, as we continue to fight for greater equality….. BUT we MUST NOT ignore the fight for rights of our worldwide brothers and sisters because they come from another place, far away in a Third World Country.
Saturday 2 March 2013, the holiest of holy days in the Australian LGBTIQ Calender. Mardi Gras.
You arrive at Hyde Park as a registered participant to celebrate the 35th Anniversary march….. but there is “something different in the air” – something feels strange.
7:45pm. The parade starts.
Minutes later…. the sound of helicopters approaching Hyde Park from the air, while armoured personnel carriers surround the park on the ground. Army personnel disembark, automatic weapons drawn; army personnel start dropping from helicopters; the Australian Federal Police swoop in.
Pandemonium ensues, people are being arrested, automatic gun fire sounds, and people are being bashed by the very people supposed to protect us.
Organisers and participants are rounded up, while the number of “enforcers” continues to grow.
The authorities arrest spectators lining Oxford Street – people who have come to show their support for the LGBTIQ community.
Confusion reigns, and in the midst of the confusion…. the opportunity get away from this hell occurs. You make your escape to the safest place you know – HOME.
Once there, you switch on the TV to try and find out what the HELL is going on. What you hear is so foreign, you can’t take it in.
“The Sydney Mardi Gras parade was today raided by Australian Federal Police and members of the Australian Defence Force. 15,000 sodomizors breaking the laws of nature have been arrested; thousands more are being held, pending further questioning….”
“Religious leaders’ state that the bible clearly says in Leviticus 18:22 they are sinners….we will no longer tolerate this blight in Australia”
The Prime Minister appears, to announce that “the government has rushed through new laws, making HOMOSEXUALITY illegal. The penalty is death…. Anyone supporting these criminals will be sentenced to 15 years in jail. And if do not report a person you know to be homosexual, you will face 8 years detention.”
The Australian Federal Police Commissioner, and Chief of Defence flank the Prime Minister as she makes her address.
They then cross live to the UN, where the General Assembly is debating “the atrocities taking place in Australia”… and they will continue TALKING for months to come.
You start to realise what this means for YOU…. “I was out and proud… EVERYONE knows I am gay….”
You wonder “Will anyone report me?…… OH HELL… I was a REGISTERED participant in the Mardi Gras…. Are they coming for me?”
“….. my landlord knows I’m gay, people at work….. “f**k I can’t go to work …. I need to get out of here now…. Where do I go, who can I trust?? Oh Lord, what about Mum and Dad?“
You call your parents to warn them. Your mother answers the phone, angrily abusing you for putting them in danger with your “crime against nature lifestyle” . . then there’s a noise in the background like a door being kicked in, your mother screams, there are angry authoritative voices . . . . . and then the phone goes dead.
You call back, but no answer….. you are now scared for yourself and your parents.
Your mobile rings, it’s your brother, abusing you for being gay, telling you your parents have been arrested and charged for not reporting your crime to authorities, and now face years detention.
“You are on your own now mate. You better run. I am reporting you to the police.”
Seems ludicrous, doesn’t it? But while we are battling on many fronts here in Australia, e.g., Marriage Equality, the Anti-Discrimination Bill, our brothers and sisters in the LGBTIQ communities the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe daily struggle with a scenario like the one I just outlined above. See below♦ for a copy of a conversation I had with one of the organisers of safe houses for persecuted gays in Uganda.
I know the old saying of “charity begins at home” could be used as an analogy for the fight for equality (and in some cases recognition in law) the LGBTIQ community in Australia could use, I believe it would be a sad indictment of the Aussie spirit if we did.
Funding for LGBTIQ organisations in Australia is very thin on the ground, and I recognise that…. And I may hear people say, I want to help, but how? See below ♦♦
There are a number of ways you can help raise the profile of the worldwide plight of the LGBTIQ community….. find out and talk about it is the easiest way… the more people know, the better they understand.
While talking to your locally based advocates, talk to them about the plight of *insert LGBTIQ international community here*.
Advocates (or Lobbyists) for the Australian LGBTIQ, need to have an international section on their agenda’s when talking to Politicians. If this issue was talked about within the community more often…. and raised more often politicians would have no option but to at least listen…. And when the issue is spoken about and the UN, Australia would have more inclination to do more.
While Australian LGBTIQ issues are important, and the fight needs to continue, we as a community need to do more to assist our brothers and sisters in countries… where they have no rights, and can be killed just for being….. who they are!
♦Below is an ACTUAL conversation I had with a gay man in Uganda…
I loved the Aussies, they are welcome coming though i never found a gay pub in Caboolture
:0 we try to be
but it was lovely
no… all the gay cubs/pubs are in the CBD of Brisbane
okay, next time i visit, i will storm them ….. hahahahaha
otherwise the situation here is so worrying and honestly running out of hand
lol…. well I hope you will let me know when you are visiting… so you can come and stay at my home in adelaide… or I can come visit you in….. whereever
right now in my safe houses the number has shot from only 13 members to 37 in just 2 weeks
Sure, i will be visiting to try and raise support for my GEHO – Uganda
I understand totally… I have a number of friends from Uganda… and other african countries… and TOTALLY understand the situation over there…..
its hard buddy
u know these are able people who are living under fear
Im sure that is cold words… but I am TRYING to educate Aussies of African GLBT people’s plight
the police is hunting for them, and the only crime they have committed is being themselves
their families don’t want them
now they have to stay in the safe houses, as we try to get them refugee status in Kenya or other countries
That’s a good thing u are doing to educate the Aussies
thank you my friend… I am trying… but a lot of Aussies are self absorbed…. so it is difficult
but thanks for taking the 1st step
YOU ARE very very welcome my friend
how is homophobia in Australia?
well… thankfully homosexuality has been legal here for 40 years…. that doesnt mean there isnt homophobia…. but… it isnt anywhere near as bad as what your community experiences my friend
oh fair enough
i long for that day here in Uganda, things wil be like that
it will come… slowly but surely
Which is your pride match in Adl?
our pride march happened in November in Adelaide… and have you had one yet?
We had one last year which was stormed by the police, we called it Beach Pride
♦♦HOW TO HELP
If you would like to help gay Ugandans living in fear, living in hiding, and desperate, you can donate to GEHO Uganda here.
GEHO – Uganda was founded in 2008 by 3 professional and developmentally oriented young human Rights activist. Initially, the organization was formed to assist Gays and Lesbians fight and advocate for their fundamental Human Rights and improve their health and socio-economic status and lives using an integrated approach.
Almost 5 years down the road however, the organization is trying to win and work with a cross-section of individuals and organizations at different stages, gender, educational level, faith, ethnicity, settings and professions, who share its vision and mission, justifying a participatory refocus this time around. GEHO – UGANDA metamorphoses.
As it continues to grow, and due to changing needs of the various categories of interest groups with a bearing on the organization, like all growing and learning organizations, GEHO – Uganda is metamorphosing into an organization that serves a broad range of specific interests, with a focus on particular aspects as reflected in its new vision, mission, purpose, objectives and values (2011)
Vision. “A Uganda with healthy and empowered Gays and Lesbians accessing quality, adequate and equitable sexual and reproductive health services at the same time seeing that our Fundamental Human Rights as Gays and Lesbians are respected by state of Uganda”
“GEHO – Uganda with competent and adequate human resources; appropriate physical infrastructure and internal support systems, capable of delivering quality, adequate and equitable sexual and reproductive health services and advocate for the Fundamental Human Rights of the Gays and Lesbians in Uganda” Mission Statement.
“To contribute towards raising the levels, Quality & Equity of Sexual & Reproductive Health Services and advocate for the Fundamental Human Rights of gays and Lesbians in Uganda through increasing access, advocacy, economic empowerment and working with other development actors”