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Volume 34
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SGN chats with a member Radical Women's Melbourne chapter and Melbourne Freedom Socialist Party as passage of a Gay rights bill in Olympia nears
SGN chats with a member Radical Women's Melbourne chapter and Melbourne Freedom Socialist Party as passage of a Gay rights bill in Olympia nears
"We're still under the British system of government, so, we can't change our legislation or force change by our leaders as easily as you in the United States can," said Alison Thorne.

by Rajkhet Dirzhud-Rashid - SGN Staff Writer

When I met Alison Thorne, member of both the Melbourne chapter of Radical women and the Freedom Socialist Party, we started immediately to chat about the battle to get the Gay rights bill approved by this year's legislature in Olympia. She told me that Australia is not at the point of making any movement on a Gay rights bill and the conservative John Howard government banned same sex marriages in the country in 2004. Howard is a member of the Liberal Party, which Thorne says is anything but liberal.

"The biggest campaign right now in the country, among activists from the Gay rights movement and more liberal labor movements is definitely relationship equality, and they are really moving on this issue, and the reason they are losing is because of Howard. They are racist, homophobic and their specialty is 'wedge politics,' using issues like marriage equality, which is unpopular with the more conservative union parties to defeat legislation for marriage equality," said Thorne. She went on to add, that even among some of the country's Gay activist groups, there are divisions over the issue of equal marriage and protection under the law for domestic partners.

"We recently had a protest rally of a quarter of a million people and some Gay groups showed up and protested against marriage equality, because they are against the institution of marriage. We're trying to get them to see that marriage equality will not only protect Gay people, but also make it easier for heterosexual couples to file for benefits as domestic partners. We want to reinvent the idea of marriage for everyone, and make it more equal across the board," said Thorne.

The two groups are also planning to be a visible presence in the upcoming Pride march in Melbourne, next week, and will be passing out postcards for people to send to the Australian parliament, urging them to pass new legislation approving same sex marriage and Gay rights.

"Also at the Queer Film and Video Festival in March, some groups have put together debates to take place during films concerning equal marriage, in the 'I Do, I Don't' campaign. I'll be there to represent and speak for the 'I Do' side, " said Thorne. She added that she feels the questioning of marriage as an institution that was originally created to repress women, while supporting equal marriage is the same for her as people in this country and other countries who are against the war in Iraq, but support the troops who are fighting there.

"We want to get people to support legislation to have equal marriage, realizing that we also support welfare rights and workers rights too. After all, we realize that if people raise their voices enough, the government has to listen and has to pass legislation under pressure from the people, and most people now support equal marriage legislation," said Thorne. She added that we, here in the United States are very lucky to have had a revolution early in our country's history, and have a bill of rights and constitution that are separate from the British monarchal system.

"We're still under the British system of government, so we can't change our legislation or force change by our leaders as easily as you, in the United States can. We have a long way to go to be where you are," said Thorne. She also said that the Howard government has been punishing sympathetic labor unions by passing strongly anti-union legislation recently, another tactic of 'wedge politics' that she has seen this particular government use.

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