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PandR: Close and Fade?

Sat 30 May 2015 In: Comment View at Wayback View at NDHA

Religious social conservatism- falling off a cliff? May 2015 wasn't a good month for religious social conservatives, whether in New Zealand or elsewhere in the world. Finally, Ian Wishart's tragic tabloid gutter glossy Investigate has abandoned its print format. I'm not sure what this actually means. Reading between the lines, it looks like circulation dropped low and there may be too few religious social conservatives and other right-wing extremists left in New Zealand to support such a fringe population. It's difficult to know what is actually transpiring, as Investigate never published independently audited circulation figures. However, visiting Wishart's website, I see he now has another publication from the same (Augean!) stable,The Briefing. This means that New Zealand's far right no longer has direct access to a vanity vehicle of its own, and must now rely on fundamentalist television or radio (the Rhema Broadcasting Group and Shine Television). While the RBG is free to air, Shine isn't. Fortunately, however, sometimes edited segments pop up on Youtube. As well as the long overdue closure of Investigate here in New Zealand, Ireland and Greenland both passed respective legislative amendments to secure marriage equality in their respective contexts. In the case of Ireland, the referendum needed to occur to repeal prior conservative Irish Constitution clauses related to discriminatory marriage limitation. As we now know, Ireland voted to introduce marriage equality by a lopsided margin- one and a half million eligible Irish voters voted for equality, with a majority in all but one Irish province, ignoring the Iona Institute, Mothers and Fathers Matter and the rest of Ireland's feeble Catholic Right. While seven hundred and fifty thousand did vote against reform, there was a one-half million margin of victory for supporters of reform. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, Greenland also voted, albeit belatedly during the last week in May 2015, to introduce marriage equality unanimously within its provincial legislature. Greenland is a subsidiary of Denmark. Australia is frustratingly near their own marriage equality legislation, encouraged by developments in Ireland, and yet stymied by stonewalling from antigay conservative Catholic Australian federal Prime Minister Tony Abbott and pressure to maintain the discriminatory status quo from the Howard era. In 2004, the Howard administration passed a discriminatory amendment to Australia's federal marriage legislation, amending its previous legislation to explicitly exclude lesbian and gay couples from its ambit. However, it is not certain what margin the bill actually has. The Australian Labor and Green Opposition parties are both proposing reform legislation and pressuring Abbott to declare a private members bill and conscience vote for his centre-right Liberal Party MPs. Unlike New Zealand however, there are numerous religious social conservative elements within the Liberal Party, as well as the rural-dominated National Party of Australia. Things have certainly started moving quickly. Hardly had I finished the paragraph above when it emerged that ALP Opposition leader Bill Shorten had drafted his own marriage equality bill, deleting Section 88E from former Australian Prime Minister John Howard's federal marriage legislation in 2004, passed to forestall any contemporary federal move toward marriage equality in Australia back in 2004. However, eleven years later, England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France, Canada and New Zealand have all beaten them to it, and Australia is starting to look embarassingly backward (just as New Zealand will do if Canada elects a centre-left government and finally passes its federal transgender anti-discrimination bill, isolating New Zealand as the only senior Commonwealth nation that doesn't directly include gender identity within its anti-discrimination laws). Meanwhile, there are rumblings in the Liberal caucus room over an embarrassing piece of ugly anti-asylum seeker legislation. If Abbott significantly tries to obstruct marriage equality moves, he may finally be rolled altogether by his caucus colleagues and replaced by Malcolm Turnbull, a centre-right social liberal. One can only hope that Australians for Marriage Equality will prevail this time. However, given the dead heat of current Australian opinion polls, it is still possible that in the event of an election, the Australian Labor Party Opposition will win and finally pass the long-delayed reform legislation. Recommended: Australians for Marriage Equality:http://www. australianmarriageequality. com "Australia now within striking distance of marriage equality"Nine Network News: 27.05.2015:http://www.9news. 09/greens-speed-up-marriage- equality- debate Thom Senzee: "Greenland Parliament Unanimously Passes Marriage Equality"Advocate:27.05.2015:https://www. greenland-parliament- unanimously-green-lights- marriage- equality Shawn Pogatchnik: "Ireland votes for marriage equality" 24.05.2015:http://www.stuff. ireland-appears-to-have-voted- for-marriage- equality "Details of Australia's same-sex marriage bill released" 29.05.2015:http://www./ australia/68986454/details-of- australias-samesex-marriage- bill-released Craig Young - 30th May 2015    

Credit: Craig Young

First published: Saturday, 30th May 2015 - 4:47pm

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