Title: Regress Australia Unfair Credit: Craig Young Comment Thursday 22nd July 2004 - 12:00pm1090454400 Article: 343 Rights
What the hell's wrong with Australia? Why is it trying to ban same-sex marriage and lesbian/gay cross-country adoption? Unlike New Zealand, Australia is a federal state, whose six states and two territories moved toward homosexual law reform and antidiscrimination law coverage at varying paces. At present, the pro-gay Australian Labor Party controls all six states and both territories. Unfortunately, John Howard and his Liberal/National Coalition control the federal House of Representatives, but not the Senate or Upper House. At the moment, the Greens control the balance of power within the Senate, and are led by Bob Brown, an out gay man. Under Howard, the federal government has repeatedly pandered to all manner of unrepresentative social conservative fringe groups, from Pauline Hanson and her far right "One Nation" anti-immigrant party, to bans on RU486 (the French abortion pill) and recriminalisation of euthanasia after the Northern Territory legalised it briefly in 1996-7. Australia has a Catholic-dominated Christian Right, unlike our own, which has access to social conservative professionals who toe the Vatican party line. It is no accident that Australia's particular manifestations of Christian Right special access are related to anti-abortion and anti-euthanasia measures. We might be more familiar with Sydney's notorious homophobe, Fred Nile, in New Zealand, but the Australian Catholic Right has been far more effective than its fundamentalist counterparts. Unlike New Zealand, the National Civic Council has dominated social conservative politics for half a century- New Zealand has no such comparable organisation. The National Civic Council and its satellites, like antifeminist Endeavour Forum, have used their national networks to lobby for prohibition of same-sex marriage and aforementioned transnational same-sex adoption. Fortunately, Australia's federal constitution restricts its intervention to the Australian Capital and Northern Territories, so there is nothing that the Howard regime can do about Western Australian and Tasmanian inclusive adoption law reforms, whether implemented or proceeding. Unfortunately, the Australian Capital Territory won't be that lucky. Why is it doing this? Apparently, Australia's federal marriage legislation doesn't specify 'one man' and 'one woman,' precipitating Christian Right moral panic over eventual challenges that might overturn its exclusive heterosexual status. Happily though, the Australian Labor Party and Greens are interfering with the passage of the Howard regime's same-sex marriage ban through the federal Senate, which they control, to petulant displays from Fred Nile, the NCC and other ill-assorted homophobes and social conservatives. And our counterparts? For some reason, the Australian lesbian and gay communities are fragmented along state and territory lines and are apparently unable to co-ordinate their activities properly. At the moment, Australia resembles the repressive Muldoon era in New Zealand during the seventies and early eighties. Muldoon and Howard are even the same height. We don't know how lucky we are. Recommended Reading: Sydney Star Observer Babette Francis: "New World Disorder" Peter Westmore: "New Zealand Legislates to Effect Same-Sex Marriage" (NCC News Weekly, 4.07.04) Bill Muehlenberg: "Why Howard is Right on Marriage." Richard Egan: "Marriage Under Attack." Australian Christian Right Backgrounders: Ross Fitzgerald: The Popes Battalions: Santamaria, Catholicism and the Labor Split: St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press: 2003. Fred Nile: Fred Nile: An Autobiography: Sydney: Strand Publishing: 2001. Craig Young - 22nd July 2004    
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