Media coverage of Equal Love

Below are recent articles about the campaign in the press.

The Equal Love rally outside the Australian Labor Party (ALP) conference.

The Equal Love rally outside the Australian Labor Party (ALP) conference. Photo: Chris Hopkins

It might have been a cold and windy Saturday afternoon, but love brought the protesters out. 

Love and anger. 

As party faithfuls gathered inside at the ALP's three-day national conference, about 100 people rallied outside, calling on Labor to get their "shit together" on marriage equality. 

Grandmothers against detention of refugee children sing songs as they rally outside the ALP National Conference.

Grandmothers against detention of refugee children sing songs as they rally outside the ALP National Conference. Photo: Andrew Meares

Antony McManus and Ron Van Houwelingen said they had been waiting 27 years to tie the knot. Mr McManus made an impassioned and tearful plea to allow the LGBTI community to "celebrate their love".

"There is nothing more that I would like now, officially and legally, to get married in front of my family and my friends," he said.

"Since we started this fight, one of my sisters died ...my brother died, my father died. Last year on our anniversary, my mother passed away. 

"It's never going to happen. That's been taken from me, it's been taken from a lot of couples. It's wrong, it's cruel."

Mr McManus said he couldn't believe they were still agitating for the right to marry.

"For God's sake, get your shit together. There are more important things to be fighting for," he said. 

Equal Love Melbourne secretary Louise O'Shea said they were calling on the Labor Party to adopt a binding vote.

"At this stage there is no guarantee that an amendment to the marriage act will be successful," Ms O'Shea said.

"If [federal Labor leader Bill] Shorten wants to posture like he is better than [Prime Minister Tony] Abbott on this issue, he has to show he is serious about it and insist on a binding, not a conscience vote."

With more than 2000 participants at the 47th Labor conference, the front of the Melbourne Convention Centre was prime space for rallying.

Earlier, Grandmothers Against Detention of Refugee Children occupied the spot, protesting against the treatment of asylum seekers. 

Spokeswoman Pamela Jones said it was disheartening to see Labor seek to harden its policy.

"But what has been heartening is to see, on this cold day, so many of our members rallying," Ms Jones said. "Because we are deeply concerned at this bipartisan cruelty." 



Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/alp-national-conference-2015-love-brings-out-the-crowds-for-marriage-equality-20150725-gikdpg.html#ixzz3hQHfuv2N

Link to original article: http://gaynewsnetwork.com.au/feature/we-meet-the-campaigners-behind-equal-love-17549.html

We meet the campaigners behind Equal Love...
MAY07

WE MEET THE CAMPAIGNERS BEHIND EQUAL LOVE...

CREATED ON // THURSDAY, 07 MAY 2015

We speak to the activists behind Equal Love, Ali Hogg, Lousie O’Shea and Anthony Wallace.

ALI HOGG – EQUAL LOVE Convenor

I became a fighter for equal rights whilst studying at the Victorian College of the Arts. I joined a campaign for there to be a queer officer on campus. Many thought there was no need for one at an arts college. We put up posters about LGBTI people’s coming out stories around the campus. Overnight they were covered in homophobic graffiti. It was awful but it helped our campaign and we won. The following year I ran for the position and won the role.

That year the Howard government announced a proposal to change the marriage act to discriminate against LGBTI people. National student queer officers were contacted about helping organise a national day of action in support of marriage equality. I jumped at the chance of being a part of organising students to come to the first rally for marriage equality in August of 2004. It was small but the mood of the crowd was defiant. It felt like we were a part of something much bigger. I doubt anyone thought we’d be still protesting 11 years later. I have since attended every Melbourne marriage equality rally.

I became the convener of Equal Love in 2009. In that time I witnessed several changes in both Prime Ministers and governments and many politicians changing their positions supporting equality.

My highlight and lowlight happened all on one day in 2011 at the ALP National conference. We protested, mobilising Australia’s largest ever LGBTI rally (15,000 – 20,000 people). It was incredible. I don’t think I’ll forget speaking to the huge crowd of passionate people of all ages, colours, genders and sexualities. At the conference the ALP changed their formal position to support marriage equality. It felt like a real win.

The lowlight was when they voted down having a binding vote on the issue and voted up a conscience vote. This resulted in marriage equality getting voted down.

What keeps me going is hearing the stories of young people: how fighting for equality gives them hope for a better world without discrimination.

Nothing in history was won without a fight and it’s important to remember that no matter what, we don’t give up. No matter who is in power, no matter how large or small the rallies are, we will fight on until we are equal.

LOUISE O’SHEA – EQUAL LOVE Secretary

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[Image] Louise O'Shea Photo: Michael Barnett

I joined the marriage equality campaign in 2004 because I despised the Howard government’s agenda and objected to its use of divide and rule politics against minority groups. I also thought it was no coincidence that Howard amended the law not long after George W Bush called for a Constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage in the U.S. Odious homophobic minds think alike.

The highlight of being a marriage equality activist is watching thousands of young people taking to the streets for the first time and experiencing the exhilaration that comes from marching alongside thousands of others who support equality and together challenging the bigotry that makes life miserable for so many LGBTI people. Developing that confidence, defiance and pride has always been what LGBTI movement has been about. Nothing beats it.

The lowlight has been dealing with the argument that marriage equality is the wrong demand to be making. When black people famously defied segregation at a Greensboro diner in 1960, did anyone say “why should we fight to have the same unhealthy diet as white people?” No they didn’t, because the symbolism of the act was apparent. It’s frustrating that many don’t recognise the same symbolism in the question of marriage equality today. Whether you want to get married or not (I don’t) we all should have the right. As it stands, our relationships are relegated to second-class status.

The desire to win and to wipe the bigoted smirk off Tony Abbott’s face is what keeps me going. To achieve a victory against this government would be wonderful and would give everyone else out there fighting for equality and justice – for refugees, Aboriginal people and workers – great encouragement.  As the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass said: “power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will”.

ANTHONY WALLACE – EQUAL LOVE Campaign Manager

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[Image] Anthony Wallace Photo: Michael Barnett

I’d just come out of a long term relationship and found myself with a lot of free time on my hands. Wanting to do more volunteering I came across a flyer on a telegraph pole about a rally for ‘Same Sex Marriage’ by a group called Equal Love. I contacted the then convenor James Vigus about any way I could get involved. That was in 2009 and was my first rally for Marriage Equality. I joined the committee immediately after the rally and have since been active in mounting Melbourne rallies, liaising with community leaders, politicians, public commentators and overseeing many areas of the Equal Love movement.

The greatest achievement throughout the campaign for me so far would undoubtedly be the time in 2011 when Equal Love, joined by Sydney’s CAAH, led the country’s largest rally for Marriage Equality with more than 10,000 people marching from Hyde Park in Sydney to the Labor convention at Darling Harbour. It was truly a monumental day and after years of direct action we had a significant win; a major political party decided it was time to amend their own party platform and as a party voted to support marriage equality. Confusing, though, was the fact that they also voted to allow members to vote against their own policy, but that’s another story.

I am single and fighting for Marriage Equality, so advocating for it is not about my own personal desire to get married but more so about fighting against being told by our elected leaders that I am not entitled to it. When you ask many people who have been married what has been their greatest day, many say their wedding day. Why shouldn’t that be experienced by all? Often the opponents of marriage equality argue that ‘marriage equality would undermine family’ but I believe it strengthens families. I wonder how different my relationship may have been if my partner was included as an extension of my family. Don’t get me wrong, my family loved my partner but when he was introduced it was always; ‘this is Anthony’s partner’ or ‘this is my brother's boyfriend’, there was always a separation from my family and him. We definitely would have a stronger sense of family unity if my parents introduced him as ‘this is my son in law’ or my siblings referring to him as their brother in law.

What keeps me pushing forward for equality? Simply because Canberra is still not listening.

Public support has shifted in a big way during my time advocating for marriage equality. In 2009 Galaxy research announced that 1 in 4 (25 per cent) of people supported ‘same sex marriage’. We need to realise the immense accomplishment with data last year from News Poll who reported overall community support to be 72 per cent. I remember my mother saying in 2009 “seriously Anthony, do you think that will ever happen?” Now in 2015 she says, “I can’t believe it hasn’t happened yet”.

[Top image] Ali Hogg Photo: Michael Barnett. All photos supplied by Equal Love

The Equal Love Rally is on May 17, 1pm at the State Library of Victoria

 

 

Suzi TaylorBy Open Producer Suzi Taylor

 

 

Link to original article

There were families, teenagers, a Buddhist monk, an Anglican archdeacon and a pet dog that had been meticulously spray painted with rainbow stripes.

The Equal Love rally on Saturday was the largest public gay event in Albury-Wodonga’s history – and aside from the politics, it’s set the wheels in motion for real change in the local GLBTI community.

Listen to the Triple J Hack story about the rally, or for a shorter version, download the documentary on AM, ABC’s national current affairs program. 

Nancy Rooke gave a Welcome to Country on behalf of the local Wiradjuri. ‘We are all one,' she said. 'Our people knew about oppression and dispossession but we are still here...and so are you!’ 

Organiser Rhiannon Konigston was surprised that nobody had lobbied against the rally, although anecdotes from the ground suggest that not everyone in town was supportive of the cause. One teenager said, ‘I did get bagged out on the street earlier...this one lady walked past us and said, ‘You guys are disgusting’. I was shattered! It was so negative and we were putting out such a positive vibe.’ 

Another young participant told me that her parents had threatened to attend the rally and protest against it. ‘I got a bit fired up about that,’ she said. They didn’t turn up. ‘They’re a really strong Christian family and I was like yeah well, whatever. In the Bible, Jesus also said to love everyone so that’s what I’m doing, I’m loving my friends!’ She sees the issue as one of basic equality. ‘Personally, I’m straight. I can marry the man of my dreams and why are my friends not allowed to do that? Just because I have a different sexuality to them, it doesn’t make me any better of a person.’ 

I was struck by how many young people attended the rally and how much it clearly meant to them to be there. 

Ali Hogg is the convenor of Equal Love, Victoria. She’s observed that these rallies can be life-changing experiences for young same sex attracted people. ‘Being amongst hundreds or [in the case of the city-based rallies] thousands of other people who are LGBTI, they feel less isolated and it often gives them the confidence to go back to their schools and start queer/straight alliances and organise community events in their own areas’. 

And that is exactly what’s happening in Albury-Wodonga. 

Today I asked the organisers of the rally what happens next and I was astounded at the changes already underway. Hume Phoenix, a social support group for GLBTI people over 18, has received a heartening spike in membership since Saturday, which means more people are going to be connecting through social events and online communities. Kelly Dwyer from Phoenix is now in the process of organising the region’s first forum on sexuality and faith. She plans to work with a local minister and two of the guest speakers from the rally, Carl Katter and Rodney Croome.   

A local parent who came along has been inspired to start up an Albury-Wodonga chapter of PFLAG to support families and friends of lesbians and gays. And the rally organisers are already busy planning the next one, for early 2013. 

There are also changes ahead to provide better support to young people in the local community. The jubilant mood at Saturday’s rally belied the reality that for many same sex attracted young people growing up in regional Australia, life is much tougher than for their city counterparts. A 2010 Latrobe university study found young GLBTI people in regional areas were at an increased risk of self-harm and suicide. Some reasons given included isolation, discrimination and lack of appropriate services and support in those communities. 

During the rally, local young lady Erin Valkenburg collected contact details from other young people who attended, with plans to kick-start a queer social and support group for Under 18s in the area. One of the rally organisers, Evan McHugh, is in the process of helping local students to start up Gay Straight Alliances in their schools. He told me today that he's received countless phone calls from young people since the rally. ‘I feel like I’ve become a counsellor to lots of people who came along, took down my contact details and who wanted to talk to somebody about what they were going through.’ 

That a single event can create so many sparks is exciting. It reveals a lot about the need for building stronger relationships and greater community understanding. 

I look forward to working with many of the young participants I met on Saturday, who are keen to share their stories through ABC Open next year. If you’d like to get involved with ABC Open media workshops, feel free to give me a call on drop me a line and I'll let you know about upcoming workshops on film-making, radio-making, writing and photography.

 

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