unChain believes that the rights for gay people should be the same as the rights for straight people. Thus Unchain supports equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. The time has come to end the discrimination against gay and lesbian couples in denying them the right to marry.
unChain is taking up the challenge set by The Age newspaper editorial from Sunday the 16th of September to reject discrimination and act as an advocate for change.
However change is difficult because both Prime Minister Gillard and Opposition Leader Abbot are strongly opposed. In contrast, the Greens support marriage equality. What can local Councils do?
One important symbol would be for Council to follow the lead of other local governments and pass a motion of support for marriage equality. Another would be to provide relationship declaration programs, like those of the City of Melbourne and the Yarra City Council. Although these do not confer legal rights in the way a marriage does, they allow couples to make a written declaration that they are mutually committed to sharing their lives together.
unChain candidate for Sandridge Ward, Peter de Groot, is a prominent proponent of the gay community. He has been active through his radio work, his TV work and his work in the Bendigo Bank Sponsorship programs. Peter’s love of history, justice, the gay community and small business led him to join the Liberal Party.
Peter de Groot says that the Queer History of Australia is a sad story. In 1952 the Victorian ALP won majority government on the basis of a law and order election and quickly filled the prisons with gays (see Noel Toovey’s book Little Black Bastard). The Liberal Party was the first party to begin the long march to see gay people treated the same as straight people. In 1971 a bill proposed by Tom Hughes was passed to decriminalize homosexuality in the ACT – Paul Keating famously said that two men and a cocker spaniel do not make a family and voted against the bill. On 18 December 1980 the Victorian Liberal party decriminalized homosexuality after 4 years of debate. This was the principal reason that Peter, as a small ‘l’ liberal, joined the Liberals.
He has now resigned from the Liberal Party because of his love of Port Melbourne and his love for the gay community. He says ‘I think I can do more for Port Melbourne and the gay community being separate from the Liberal Party’. He will continue to work with people in both the Liberal and Labor parties to improve their policies. As a media person and an advocate for gay causes, Peter will continue to attend both Liberal and Labor party events. For example, he wants to change the shared position of the Liberal Party and Labor’s Michael Danby that allows religious organizations to indoctrinate youth that being gay is intrinsically evil.
I am very proud of the work that Peter has been doing for the gay community and also the broader community in Port Melbourne. He has been very active in the Bendigo bank community programs, the Linking Neighbours program and Rotary. I am absolutely confident that Peter will make an outstanding Councillor.
~ Peter Holland
President, unChain Inc