Rainbow Report for Christmas


Gloomy weather for marriage equality

If you used to listen to Freshly Doug (must bring that back some day) you know that I used to mix up our chats with a little music. This week that’s what we’ll be doing for two whole hours as we mix music and conversation, looking back over 2012 and forward to 2013, and catching up with some people I haven’t spoken to in a while.

Marriage was the issue that went up like a rocket last year, but unfortunately it came back down like the stick with the apparent collapse of the campaign at federal level. Charismatic leader Alex Greenwich left Australian Marriage Equality for life as a state MP, and the centre of the campaign shifted to Tasmania, as seasoned campaigner Rodney Croome took over the reins.

Carl Katter seemed to spend the whole year coming out again, not just as a counterbalance to his half-brother Bob, but in his own right. Eventually he followed the Alex Greenwich template, taking over as Victorian leader of Australian Marriage Equality. The organisation is starting to assert a distinctive state presence – something we haven’t had before. He’s also dipping his toe into state politics.

But is a state-based campaign the way to go? Luke Gahan says no: Rodney Croome says yes.

Education was a major battleground, with fights in the courts over chaplains and religious instruction, and some harsh rhetoric on both sides. Queensland Education – along with a good chunk of the government – appears to have been infiltrated by Christian fundamentalists. The Safe Schools Coalition gained both funding and criticism, accused by Rabbi Shimon Cowen of being a Trojan Horse for anti-gay propaganda.

But one man has been quietly tooling around Australia doing his own thing,  tackling homophobia one cuppa at a time, as he likes to say, for many years now. Daniel Witthaus is a distinctive standalone voice in the debate, always worth hearing from. He recently wrote here on the stirrer about LGBT young people, victims and allies, and the Power of One.

Aged-care at last got some attention. Lord knows this community of ours is extremely ageist and mostly quite unapologetic about it, but this was the year seniors started to get some much-needed attention, largely due to the untiring efforts of Dr Jo Harrison. Now with a sympathetic aged-care Minister, Mark Butler, the government has launched an LGBTI aged-care strategy. Corey Irlam – after a somewhat tumultuous year of his own – is now with the LGBTI Health Alliance, where he has been leading the charge on LGBTI Aged Care, with some significant success.

The Australian Open is coming round again. Last year, thanks to a couple of tweets I rather foolishly responded to, I got caught up in The Margaret Court Affair aka Rainbow Flags Over Margaret Court Arena. We never got our flags, but we got a hell of a lot of publicity! Caught up with me in that whole business was Ivan Hinton, who had never been an activist in his life before. Since then he has become ACT spokesperson for PFLAG, as well as a trenchant advocate for marriage equality, and been out on the town with Anton Enus!

And last but by no means least, WA’s gift to a grateful gay nation Rod Swift, most recently seen on TV talking about the decision to allow the armed forces to march in uniform in Mardi Gras, and always seen talking nineteen to the dozen about something to do with gay rights! Tonight we’re going to get Rod’s take on the whole safe/safer sex controversy in the light of the critiicisms of the VACs ‘Clever Dick Smart Arse’ campaign. We looked at this issue last week and the week before.

This is based on a British campaign run by the peak HIV/AIDS body there, the Terrence Higgins Trust. Check out their version here, here and on Facebook.

As always, if you’ve got any questions for my guests you can leave a comment below or email The Rainbow Reporter ahead of the broadcast

SMS during the show (in Australia) 0427 JOY 949. Or use the smartphone app. Or email the studio. Click here to download the podcast.

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)