And now the Good News – On December 10, this year, the Hobart City Council held a civic reception to apologise to the gay and lesbian community.
* Good News – On Saturday the 1st of March 2008, at the 30th Anniversary of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, 35 Christian Ministers (representatives of the 100 ministers who signed the apology, included 5 Pentecostal ministers) from the 100 Revs group joined the parade to say sorry to the GLBT community. In Australia, it has been a year of saying sorry for past injustices.
* Good News – May 15, 2008 The California’s Supreme Court declared that gay and lesbian couples can marry. (again)
* Bad News – Proposition 8, a referendum in the US to define marriage as only between a man and a woman received a majority
* Bad News – Under about half of the governments world-wide, consensual sexual contact between consenting male adults is punishable; in seven countries, all under Islamic religious law, such intimate contact is grounds for the death penalty.
* Good News – On December 18 a declaration calling for the universal decriminalization of homosexuality, signed by 66 nations, was read from the podium of the United Nations thus beginning the process for universal acceptance.
* Bad News – The United States was the only country among the major Western nations not to sign on to the non-binding UN resolution calling for an end to the criminalization of homosexuality in all the nations of the world. Both the Vatican and the Organization of Islamic States have opposed the resolution.
* Bad News – Pope Benedict said in his Christmas message that saving humanity from homosexual acts is as important as saving the rainforests,. Benedict warned that blurring the distinction between male and female could lead to the “self-destruction” of the human race. In his address he described behaviour beyond traditional heterosexual relations as “a destruction of God’s work” and said that the Roman Catholic Church had a duty to “protect man from the destruction of himself”.
* Good News – A study by the Australia Institute, Mapping Homophobia in Australia, revealed that only 34% Catholics believe homosexuality is immoral with similar numbers in Anglican and Uniting Churches revealing once again how out of touch many church leaders are with their congregations and the world around them.
* Good News – Peter Tatchell, co-founder of OutRage! said: “By choosing to highlight homosexuality instead of hunger, war and homelessness, the Pope has lost his moral bearings and sense of priorities. Free market capitalism, and its culture of greed and consumerism, is a far greater threat to the ecological survival of our planet than homosexuality and transsexuality.
* Bad News – Rick Warren, pastor of Saddle Back Mega church makes inappropriate comments about gays and lesbians. Give it time and we’ll have an apology from Rick as we will from many others I’m sure.
* Good News – Monday 10 November, the Australian government gave same-sex couples the equal rights that are enjoyed by heterosexual married and de-facto couples. The changes ensure equal treatment of same-sex couples in areas including taxation, superannuation, Medicare, PBS, social security, aged care, family law and child support, migration, veterans’ and defence entitlements, workers’ compensation and a range of other benefits and obligations in around 100 laws were swept away with bipartisan support.
* Bad News – Homophobic violence on Oxford St in Sydney increased during the year. I’ve known of several who have been bashed and personally spent a night in St Vincent’s Hospital Emergency Unit with a young man who’d been bashed; leaving him with a cracked skull and temporary loss of hearing. Last December 27-year-old Craig Gee was walking home from Oxford St with his partner. They were attacked by four men, his partner got away but Craig was left with a fractured jaw, an eye socket smashed in three places and a broken right leg. The attackers called Craig’s mother on his stolen mobile phone and told her “we killed your faggot son”. Walking up Oxford St at night can be quite a scary experience. For many years this was not the case but always a friendly safe space to stop and chat with friends on the strip.
What does all this tell us?
Progress is being made in some areas but there is still much to do. Those of us who live in progressive areas and demographics can often by lulled into a false sense that the world has changed and we are accepted for who we are. In my postcode of 2010, 35% identify as gay or lesbian. In most cases, gay and lesbian couples can display the same affection in public as heterosexuals do without fear. Move out a few suburbs and they would be verbally abused. Move into certain suburbs and they would be physically attacked. Living in some rural areas, it is nearly impossible to come out without serious reprisal of some sort.
Then of course we have certain cultures and religions today that have not moved in their understanding of sexuality for centuries. These are the challenges we face.
May 2009 be a year of great progress and milestone wins for equality and acceptance at all levels.
7 things to listen to and watch for your internet enjoyment over the holidays
2. Australia’s Second Openly Gay Pentecostal – Yes the number doubled this year. Twenty year old Ben, who attends our Sydney Freedom 2 b