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Oct 11, 2011

Gay marriage advocates to meet MPs in Canberra

First published in the International Business Times, October 11, 2011

About 60 Marriage Equality representatives from around Australia will travel to Canberra on Wednesday to meet with more than 40 MPs to discuss with Parliamentarians on both sides of the house how marriage equality affects their lives, and the lives of their family and friends.

Aged between 9 and 91 years, people are coming from every Australian state and territory, and will share their family’s story with various MPs and Senators from all parties throughout the day.

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Oct 11, 2011

Tasmanians in same-sex push

First published in The Mercury, October 11, 2011

FIVE Tasmanians will join supporters of same-sex marriage in Canberra tomorrow to push for changes to federal legislation.

Ulverstone couple Jen Evans and Jenny Archer, Martine Delaney, marriage celebrant Maxine Lowry and gay rights activist Rodney Croome will meet politicians to push for the change.

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Oct 10, 2011

Gay Marriage Advocates head to Canberra

First published in Out in Perth, October 10, 2011

WA gay marriage advocates and supporters fly to Canberra tomorrow as part of a national campaign to lobby federal politicians in person.

Gay and Lesbian Equality (GALE) WA has been working with organisations such as Australian Marriage Equality to fly gay marriage supporters into Canberra and share their stories with their MP on Wednesday October 12.

GALE WA convenor Kitty Hawkins (pictured) said marriage equality was an important issue and that the stories from the community should have a great impact on politicians.

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Oct 10, 2011

South-west ALP members back gay marraige

First published in The Standard, October 10, 2011

SOUTH-WEST Labor party members have backed a push to legalise gay marriage after the party’s state conference officially flagged its support for the reform.

Labor’s Victorian branch at the weekend became the latest state division to endorse legal recognition of same-sex relationships, putting greater political pressure on Prime Minister Julia Gillard ahead of the party’s national conference in December.

Hundreds of delegates clapped and cheered at the conference in Melbourne on Saturday when the resolution was passed with only a small number of members voting against it.

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Oct 9, 2011

Rann says gay marriage’s time has come

First published in ABC, October 9, 2011

South Australia’s outgoing premier has called for the Federal Government to legalise same-sex marriage.

Delivering the 2011 Flinders University Investigator Lecture in Adelaide on Sunday, Mike Rann called on the federal Parliament to change the Marriage Act to allow homosexual couples to marry.

“Same-sex marriage is an idea whose time has well and truly arrived,” he said during the speech, which marks the end of the Adelaide Festival of Ideas.

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Oct 9, 2011

Conscience vote likely on gay marriage

First published in Sydney Morning Herald, October 9, 2011

A PARLIAMENTARY conscience vote on same-sex marriage is likely to be the compromise agreed at Labor’s national conference this year.

All the Labor state and territory branches, except NSW, now support gay marriage after the Victorian Labor Party yesterday voted in support of a resolution calling on the ALP to amend the party platform.

”In a way it feels odd to get up here at a Labor state conference and talk about love but it is such an important and central foundation … to happy lives,” the co-convener of Rainbow Labor, Sarah Cole, said.

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Oct 9, 2011

Couples confront PM

First published in The Sunday Times, October 9, 2011


Drag Queens, fairies, the proud and the curious gathered in Northbridge yesterday for the official launch of this year’s Pride festivities.

The annual City of Perth Fairday was held at Russell Square to kick off a month of events celebrating the city’s gay, lesbian and transgender communities.

Local businesses, community groups and government agencies were all on show to lend their support.

Click on the image above for an enlarged view of the full story.


Ethical and Regulatory Dilemma Case Study Report


Vilification is an assertion of power through verbal expression of social discrimination. Integrated in a continuous pattern of abuse apart of dominant power hierarchies, vilification is a public act intended to harm, threaten, humiliate or intimidate a person or group of persons on the basis of racist, sexual or religious hatred.

Acts of vilification are intended to exclude, intimidate, marginalize and silence antagonists often resulting in the strengthening of dominant power hierarchies as it is directed at the racialised, sexual and religious minorities.

In week 7, I prepared a brief polemic on the topic of vilification for in-class debate together with Danny Yap and Emma Smith. Our group presented arguments for and against the statement: ‘Vilification is best addressed by helping people to ‘answer back’, not by limiting freedom of speech’. In this discussion we critiqued a range of key issues in communication regulation as we observed current anti-vilification legislation, analysing strategic questions in communication regulation and relating communication regulation to wider questions of ethics and power such as: how effective are anti-vilification laws? Can anti-vilification laws be used against minorities rather than empower them and achieve justice against their offender? Are anti-vilication laws just a token, ineffective and neutral legal gesture?


I entered into the debate with an analytical view into the ways vilification laws can be seen to be limiting freedom of speech. Additional to this question, I addressed the need for people to decide to speak out, and the problematic nature of vilification as a means for people to ‘answer back’.


Due to time constraints, I decided to approach these questions by looking specifically at vilification in relation to the Internet.

Preliminary Research -

Observed in the set readings for this case study, criticisms of vilification laws often stems from the perception that it limits or diminishes the rights to free speech. David Marr states, ‘those who want governments to save us from offence are the most persistent enemies of liberty’ (2003, p. 99).

Identified throughout the course ‘Regulating Communication: Law, Ethics, Politics’, the Internet can pose problematic in relation to many laws and regulations surrounding the communications industry. At times it can seemingly evade such discourses altogether.

The Internet -

Is the Internet as empowering as it seems? Or is it another capitalist’s tool used by governments to control and censor its citizens?

One theorist who examines these questions is Belarusian social researcher Evgeny Morozov. In his lecture, ‘The Internet in society: empowering or censoring citizens’ (2009), Morozov reflects on our current information society and its promotion of western democracy in all parts of the world including countries like China and Iran. He argues that this western ideology is an illusion created by cyberutopians: people who believe in the transformative power of the web to change societies for the better.

This notion of illusion poses a threat to the seemingly democratic nature of the Internet.

Democracy and the Internet –

Is it the case that ‘No rights can be absolute, including freedom of speech’ (2003, p. 99), as stated by the anti-discrimination board of Australia?

According to Morozov, amongst others, this is correct. Katherine Gelber argues that ‘there are times when we justifiably can limit some speech’ (2011, p. 84).

In terms of the Internet, the fact is, is that it is cheap for everyone to produce content online including NGO’s and government organizations. The Internet is a tool capable of not only vilifying against people but also censoring people’s vilification and thus limiting people’s freedom of speech.

Gelber states, ‘Internationally it is widely recognized that protecting freedom of speech does not mean hate speech cannot be regulated. On the contrary, the regulation of hate speech is widely regarded as legitimate and valid, even though there is no consensus on the forms the laws should take’ (2011, p.88). In terms of the government, having people blog and voluntarily provide information about what might be wrong with some local issues is quite helpful. A government may in fact foster a bloggers need to open up as they supposedly ‘listen to them’ before shutting their sites down recognizing issues that need addressing in order to run their country.

Protect the King -

This level of government intervention regarding the Internet can be seen in Thailand with the ‘Protect the King’ website. This website is run by members of parliament encouraging internet users to submit links to websites which they may find offensive to the King. The result: almost 3000 websites blocked in 24 hours.

Encyclopedia Dramatica -

Integral to the topic of vilification regarding Australia, is the Encyclopedia Dramatica case.

In January 2010, Aboriginal Steve Hodder-Watt appealed to Google regarding an Encyclopedia Dramatica entry on Aborigines. The entry was incredibly offensive to anyone of Aboriginal descent, and Hodder-Watt attempted to change the entry through a ‘wiki’ function. However, the function was blocked leading Hodder-Watt to protest to the Australian Human Rights Commission. It was thus that Google removed the site from their search engine.

Although this case may represent a critical example of justifiable limitations on free speech, it also exemplifies the neutral nature of anti-vilification laws as the content written by Encyclopedia Dramatica was only erased from

Challenges -

What is problematic about the very nature of vilification as a means for people to ‘answer back’ is that ‘over time, cumulative racialised reporting can lead to an environment where racism becomes ‘common sense’ and somehow reasonable’ as said by the Anti-discrimination Board (2003, p. 100).

What the problem is with the Encyclopedia Dramatica case is that in certain parts of our history, racism towards aboriginal people has occurred in this way. This doesn’t justify the case in question in any way, but in terms of the case’s outcome to only block the site on one Google server, perhaps reflects this strain that exists on regulating vilification in cases where many other similar acts are rampant all over the world.


There are many factors that come into play when regulating vilification. Is the subject in question apart of a minority or dominant group? How is the statement executed? Is it an illocutionary act? What are the subjects’ positions in society? What is their intention? Humour, act of hatred?

Katherine Gelber states, ‘saying that hate speech laws generally are a justifiable limit on freedom of speech does not mean that they are perfect’ (2011, p. 85).

Reference List:

Anti-Discrimination Board of New South Wales. 2003, ‘Media Regulation and Racial Vilification’, Race for the headlines, Sydney

Fitzroy Legal Service. 2010, ‘The Law Handbook, Vilification’, FLC, viewed 9 September 2011,

Gelber, K. 2009, ‘Critique and Comment: The False Analogy Between Vilification and Sedition’, Melbourne University Law Review, viewed 9 September 2011,

Gelber, K. 2011, ‘Speech matters: getting free speech right’, UQP, St Lucia

Henry, J. 2009, ‘Beyond free speech: novel approaches to hate on the internet in the United States’, Information and Communications Technology Law

Indigenous Community New Network. 2010, ‘Stephen Hodder-Watt -v- Google Australia Pty Limited, Encyclopedia Dramatica Case’, viewed 9 September 2011,

Ireland, J. 2010, ‘I am bogan, hear me roar’, The Age, viewed 9 September 2011,

Morozov, E. 2009, ‘The Internet in society: empowering or censoring citizens’, RSA, viewed 9 September 2011,—the-internet-in-society-empowering-or-censoring-citizens

Oct 8, 2011

Victorian Labor sends a message on gay marriage

First published in Sydney Morning Herald, October 8, 2011

The ALP state conference has voted to send a message to Julia Gillard to “get over it” and legalise gay marriage.

Only the conservative shop assistant’s union voted against the urgency motion.

However, national secretary Joe De Bruyn declined to debate the issue, saying it was a matter for the national platform and the powerful union would save its arguments for the National conference in December.

Full story

Oct 6, 2011

Draft ALP platorm released

First published in News Ninemsn, October 6, 2011

Labor’s draft manifesto is unlikely to appease the party’s left on the issues of asylum seekers and gay marriage.

The ALP’s national policy committee released a consultative draft national platform on Thursday, open for comment only until 5pm on Sunday.

Committee chair and Labor MP Gai Brodtmann said the ALP’s national conference in December was being held earlier than usual and consultation had been held in a tighter timeframe.

Full story

Sep 25, 2011

Why I support gay marriage – Kristina Keneally

Why I support gay marriage

Published on ABC unleashed

I didn’t hear the word lesbian until I went to university. In my childhood, homosexuality was not discussed: not at home, not at church, not at school.

I’m sure there were homosexual people in my classroom or community. Possibly even in my extended family. But they were not ‘out’. Even the prevailing culture did not engage with homosexuality: growing up in middle America in the ’70s and ’80s was still far more Happy Days than Glee.

To say I grew up in a Catholic enclave wouldn’t be far wrong. I went to Catholic primary school, where my mother also taught. My dad was a Eucharistic minister in our parish. After attending an all-girls Catholic high school, I earned a BA in political science at a Catholic university, then spent a gap year teaching at a Catholic primary school. Continue reading »