14 March 2010


This article from the Guardian reinforces the stories about footy and homophobia and it is more than beyond time that the people who run these "shows" finally did something about this disgusting situation. The followers of these sports have homophobia thrust down their throats when they hear their "heroes" mouthing homophobic slurs endlessly such as calling others poofters, sissies, and other degrading and disgusting remarks. This is a culture which should be stamped out and stamped out NOW!!!

Can gay footballers ever come out?
It's time to tackle homophobia on the terraces and in the dressing room, say many within the game
Patrick Barkham
• The Guardian, Wednesday 10 February 2010

Watch the controversial anti-homophobia ad delayed by the FA. Warning: strong language.


He dreaded going to work with his colleagues. By the time he got into training, he was so nervous he felt sick. "I was like a bullied kid on his way to school to face his tormentors," wrote Graeme Le Saux, the former England and Chelsea defender, in his autobiography.

For 14 years, Le Saux endured the taunts of everyone from team-mates and players such as Robbie Fowler, who bent over in front of him and pointed at his backside during a match, to thousands of vociferous fans chanting obscenities. The cultured left-back was, in a sense, England's first outed footballer. And he was not even gay.
Le Saux's experience, just because he took an interest in the arts, read the Guardian and was not part of the game's laddish drinking culture, was so traumatic that he considered quitting football. Far worse, however, were the years of abuse suffered by Justin Fashanu, the only professional English footballer to come out as gay, who took his own life in 1998.

After becoming Britain's first £1m black player, Fashanu's career went downhill under Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest. Hearing rumours that Fashanu was visiting gay bars, Clough confronted him, later writing in his autobiography: "'Where do you go if you want a loaf of bread?' I asked [Fashanu]. 'A baker's, I suppose.' 'Where do you go if you want a leg of lamb?' 'A butcher's.' 'So why do you keep going to that bloody poofs' club?'"

The Justin Campaign, named in honour of Fashanu, is just one of a group of diversity and gay rights organisations who expressed "grave concerns" this week when the Football Association hurriedly cancelled the launch of a film intended to confront homophobia. Previously, it was reported that the FA had been struggling to find high-profile players to support the film; now, English football's governing body is to conduct further consultation on the hard-hitting video that shows a man abusing workmates and commuters with anti-gay taunts before doing the same at a football match. It may never be released in its current form.

While English football's administrators dither, homophobia endures in the modern game. The stadiums may be plusher than ever but they still reverberate to offensive anti-gay chants, and homophobic "banter" is widespread in dressing rooms.
The list of openly gay sporting heroes around the world is a short one. Famous names include basketball's John Amaechi, hurling's Donal Og Cusack, Olympic gold medal-winning diver Matthew Mitcham and, most notably in Britain, Nigel Owens, the Welsh international rugby referee, and Gareth Thomas, Wales's most-capped player and the former British Lions captain, who came out last December.

Of about 4,000 professional footballers in England and Wales, however, none will openly acknowledge they are gay. Paul Elliott, the former Chelsea and Celtic star who works with football diversity campaign group Kick It Out, has said at least 12 Premier League players are gay. After Thomas came out, the publicist Max Clifford revealed that he advised two high-profile gay Premiership stars to keep their sexuality secret because football "remains in the dark ages, steeped in homophobia".
The Professional Footballers' Association has taken advice from Amaechi over how to tackle homophobic abuse in the game. "There's no point beating around the bush," says its chief executive, Gordon Taylor. "Football is a macho world but then so was the armed forces, and that has changed."

Who is to blame for the repression and prejudice hanging over football? Abusive fans? Homophobic team-mates? Or the stuffed shirts at the FA and leading clubs who haven't a clue about the modern world? Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, describes football as "institutionally homophobic", and says the FA is significantly behind other workplaces in tackling the problem. "The FA has been in denial at a senior level, and until recently they did not acknowledge that there was any serious problem," he says.

Traditionally homophobic, macho and conservative professions such as investment banking and the armed forces are, according to Summerskill, significantly better at addressing homophobia than football.

"It's ironic that the work we're doing with the army is much more advanced than what is happening in football. We're sending openly gay and lesbian people to fight in Afghanistan, but we can't send openly gay people to fight for the World Cup this summer.

"The chiefs and generals in the armed services understand that people perform better when they can be themselves at work – you feel more comfortable and are more productive – and that will be true of professional football, when it finally happens, as well."

Rather like Le Saux, former Scotland international Pat Nevin was teased in the dressing room by fellow footballers for his esoteric tastes. "I was interested in the theatre and the arts and so I got the 'you must be gay' thing – to which I sniggered and said, 'I'm not and I don't care if you think I am,'" he says.

During his playing career for Everton and Chelsea, Nevin was closely involved in the first anti-racism campaigns in football. But, perhaps surprisingly, he says he feels slightly differently about homophobia in the game. He believes the football world would quickly accept gay players and there are actually no insurmountable obstacles to them coming out; it is just up to them to reveal their sexuality.

"You hate to see homophobia out there, and you don't want to hear it or have it in the clubs, but if there are any gay players they should just come out. That may sound heartless, and I am sure if you are gay there are all sorts of fears and worries, but I do think football can probably cope with it."

In fact, Nevin believes football may be being unfairly tarnished for homophobia when there are actually very few gay footballers; he says he has never met one who is known to be gay. "Gay people have come out in other sports. Football gets battered for certain things which it doesn't deserve to get battered for. If a player comes out and is then hounded out of the game, that's when we should go for football."
Summerskill however believes there are high-profile footballers who are gay and in a similar position to Gareth Thomas, whose sexuality was known and accepted by those close to him after Thomas confided in coaches and senior Welsh team-mates three years before he came out. But it's not an easy place to come out. "We've talked to professional footballers who have explicitly said there is homophobia in their dressing rooms," Summerskill says. "That doesn't just make a difference to whether you will come out, but also how you play."

Clifford believes that it is unlikely a Premiership star will come out in the near future, but that if they do, they are likely to be an established, experienced star with a long career behind them and little to lose. Summerskill says he would be surprised if we did not see an openly gay footballer within a decade. But he does not believe high-profile players have a moral obligation to come out, even if it would undoubtedly help thousands of other young people – and footballers – wrestling with their sexuality. He prefers to quietly stress the positive benefits – both personal and professional – that have been widely expressed by openly gay sports stars such as Thomas and Martina Navratilova.

Thomas, who only came out towards the end of his career, admitted that he "could never have come out without first establishing myself and earning respect as a player", but then spoke of "the amazing response" he received.

At the PFA, Taylor fears the tragic example of Fashanu still looms large over professional footballers. But there are more encouraging instances of sporting heroes being open about their sexuality in great adversity. The Australian rugby league star Ian Roberts was the country's first professional player to come out in 1995; a courageous act in a notoriously macho sport. When he retired three years later, he reflected that, "The public reaction when I came out is my highlight over anything I've accomplished on the field."

10 March 2010


The following article was in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald newspapers:

Caught in the history wars

March 6, 2010

"I am angry when I hear people say I am anti-Israel . . . I love this country very much" . . . historian Shlomo Sand.

Shlomo Sand has outraged many with his book The Invention of the Jewish People, which questions whether Jews were really exiled from the land of Israel, writes Jason Koutsoukis.

The Israeli historian Shlomo Sand is busy looking for new friends. Since the publication of his book The Invention of the Jewish People, an unsparing assault on Jewish historiography and Israel's Zionist edifice, Sand has felt the intense wrath of friends, colleagues and Jews everywhere.

''I knew it would not be easy for me. But now I have two, maybe three friends left,'' says Sand. ''There have been many death letters.''

Sand is chatting in the living room of his Tel Aviv apartment. Just home from Paris, where he has spent the last semester teaching, Sand, who turns 64 in September, betrays the weariness of an ageing prizefighter.

Tired he may be, but Sand has also become famous.

After selling 8000 copies in Israel, The Invention of the Jewish People has become an international best seller and is already being translated into 17 languages including Arabic, Japanese, German, Polish, Russian and Indonesian.

In France alone more than 50,000 copies of the book have been sold, and 10,000 copies in Britain in the four months since it was published in English. Already a French publisher is urging Sand to write a follow-up.

''At first, people were afraid to talk about the book. But then it sold, and it kept selling. Eventually it couldn't be ignored.''

The big turning point, Sand says, was last year's war in Gaza.

''My book profited from the Gaza war. A lot of Jews have told me that the Gaza war was too much for them.''

Not a survey of the daily problems facing Israel, The Invention of the Jewish People instead probes deeper questions of identity. ''The real problem facing Israel is much, much more than the occupation of the Palestinian territories or our borders with Syria. It is about our history.''

In short, the book's central thesis is that the story of the Jews' exile from the biblical land of Israel by the Romans in AD70 is nothing more than an invention of Zionist propagandists from the 1850s onwards.

''There simply was no exile,'' says Sand. ''How is it possible that the Romans could have exiled a whole people from a land? It is impossible.''

And if there was no Jewish exile, Sand argues, then there can be no justification for the return.

''How could Zionism justify the return of the Jews to a land from which the Jews never left? Without this, the whole basis for creating the modern state of Israel collapses.''

Often labelled an anti-Zionist Israel-basher, Sand describes himself as post-Zionist. ''I am angry when I hear people say that I am anti-Israel, or that I am somehow racist against Jews. I love this country very much.''

Not long after getting married in 1973, Sand and his wife, Varder, seriously considered emigrating to Australia. Instead he won a scholarship to the acclaimed Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris where he completed a masters in contemporary French history and doctoral thesis on the philosopher Georges Sorel.

His PhD impressed people at home so much that in 1982 he was lured back to a teaching position at Tel Aviv University. Eventually that led to permanent tenure and a chair in European history.

''In Israel we have this very strange division of labour when it comes to the profession of history. There is the department of history, where I am a professor, and then there is the department of Jewish history, which is separate. One never questions the other, which makes this book so unusual.''

Sand never imagined a life in academia. The son of an fervent communist, he was born in Austria and grew up in Jaffa, the Arab-dominated port city that is now a part of Tel Aviv, before leaving school at 16.

After a variety of labour-intensive factory jobs, Sand was drafted into the army at 18 and in June 1967 found himself fighting the Six Day War in which Israel conquered east Jerusalem and all of the territory known as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

''It was the first time in my life that I felt that someone was trying to kill me, that someone was shooting at me, so I was shooting back. It was a mess.''

While the victory over the combined armies of Egypt, Syria and Jordan intoxicated most Israelis, Sand marks the war as a moment that pushed him towards the radical left.

''Even if I accepted the thesis of the Jewish exile, that several thousand years ago this land was occupied by Jews, I have never understood why this absence gave Jews the right to return to this land. And why the presence of the people who were living here doesn't give them a right to the land. I have always thought this was a stupid argument.''

After completing three years of military service, Sand spent the late 1960s and early 1970s working a series of odd jobs, including several years as a telephone lineman. It wasn't until he decided to complete his high school certificate at 25 that he began to think about becoming a high school teacher.

''It was easier to become a university lecturer,'' Sand says, laughing. ''But seriously, always I was troubled by the deeper questions of Israeli history. So first I studied French history and French nationalism. Without this I could not have confronted the founding myths of Israel.''

Standing before a European history class in Tel Aviv, Sand will often remind his students of the French pride in their connection to the ancient Gauls.

''It's a funny story because I tell my students that everyone in France today knows that they are not really the descendants of the Gauls and when I say this to my class, everyone smiles knowingly.

''But if I ask the same class: are all of us here the real descendants of the Jews who lived in this land 2000 years ago? And their faces change. They shout 'yes' for they are sure. There is no doubt.''

In a country where the belief that all Jews, be they Russian, Ethiopian, Polish, Persian, Lithuanian or Moroccan, share the same cultural and ancestral heritage, the argument that the only thing Jews have in common is religion is almost viewed as an act of treason.

''Everyone has to believe that Jews are of the same origin, because if they are not, then what is the reason for the existence of Israel, to ask for this land, and to keep asking for this land?''

Defining the traits that mark him as an Israeli - his Hebrew language, the food he eats, the songs he sings, the football league he follows with such passion - Sand asks what connects the Jewish diaspora to Israel.

A majority of the world's Jews live outside Israel, Sand argues, where they speak the languages of their native lands.

Sand conjures a hypothetical granddaughter of a Jewish emigre from Europe living in Sydney or Melbourne.

''The grandmother grew up speaking Yiddish and is a living example of a European Jewish culture that was wiped out by the Holocaust. This makes a great impression on the granddaughter who wants to feel the same connection to Jewish culture as her grandmother. So she makes every effort to become as Jewish, more Jewish [than] even her grandmother.

''This is expressed through religious devotion, or through strong support for Israel, or both. But it is an empty Jewishness. It is built on myth, not real culture. The granddaughter may be superficially more Jewish than her grandmother. She supports Israel more passionately. But does she necessarily want to emigrate here? Is she part of the same nation as me?''

If what defines a country is the culture its people share, then Sand feels a far greater connection to his Arab Israeli neighbour who grew up speaking the same language, living and breathing the same air.

Sand is adamant that if Israel is to succeed, then every Jew living outside its borders must help the country by putting enough pressure on its leaders to abolish the concept that Israel define itself as a Jewish nation.

Israel should remain a state of refuge for Jews who are persecuted for their beliefs, Sand believes, but not guarantee the automatic right of citizenship to every Jew no matter where they are born.

Israeli society may be liberal and open, Sand says, but the more difficult truth to confront is that it is equal parts anti-democratic and chauvinist.

How can Israel call itself a democracy, when more than 2.5 million Palestinians who live in East Jerusalem and the West Bank have no say in choosing the leaders who ultimately govern them?

Sand's greatest fear for the future of his country is not the military threat from without, such as the possibility of a nuclear attack from a country such as Iran, but the boiling resentment of the Arab population from within.

The reason Israel's ultra-nationalist Foreign Affairs Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, has struck such with voters, Sand argues, is because he never fails to remind people that one-fifth of Israeli-born citizens are Arabs.

''Lieberman is right to fear them. I agree with his diagnosis. If we continue to treat this section of our society the way we do now, then eventually they will revolt. But I disagree with all the force of my being his solution which is to transfer the Arab population to a future Palestinian state.''

Israel is long past the point, Sand says, where it must give up the idea that it can survive in the Middle East without integrating with its Arab neighbours.

Not a strong advocate of the ''one-state solution'' to the Arab-Israeli conflict, that would see all Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza become Israeli citizens, Sand wants to see Israel first build a Palestinian state along the borders that existed before the Six Day War.

As to his own future, Sand wants his next book to be a page turner set in a fictitious university history department.

''As the reaction of my colleagues to Invention of the Jewish People has shown me, the way history is written can make a very complicated and thrilling story.''



This letter was in The Age on 10 March 2010. No one is surprised that Abbott is such a bigot - he has spent much of his political life honing his skills in this direction.

But one has to ask the question - what is he afraid of? Is his fear that one of his offspring could turn out to be homosexual? Is it that he may be a closet queen? Some of the most abusive and vicious violent homophobes have turned out to be closeted homosexuals who have been so afraid of their sexuality that they have hidden their fears behind a front of homophobia.

The pope and his bishops are prime examples - and the interesting thing about this whole nasty episode is that there are gay,lesbian, transgender and HIV/AIDS (GLTH)people who not only still vote for the Coalition, but also belong to some religion which basically hates homos.

Here is the letter and below the letter is an article which was in newmatilda on 10 March 2010 discussing this very issue.

Dark Ages dogma

ON Monday's Lateline, Tony Abbott said he believed homosexuals were a ''challenge to the natural order of things''. The previous evening, on 60 Minutes, he said he felt ''threatened'' by us (homosexual men and women). And on Monday night's Q&A, British academic and author Richard Dawkins listened in disbelief as Steve Fielding explained he believed in creationism.

This is Dark Ages dogma - small-minded, blinkered and ill-informed. Has Canberra, and the politicians who inhabit it, fallen into a black hole, gone through a time warp, and now operate in a parallel universe? It would certainly seem politicians are in a world light years from one where reason, compassion, understanding and logic are guiding principles. The world that, in 2010, many Australians choose to live in.

Benjamin Doherty, North Caulfield


10 Mar 2010
If He Could Turn Back Time

By James West

Tony Abbott might feel threatened by gay people, but even if he wanted to roll back progress on gay rights, it's unlikely he could do so, writes James West

"Maybe he likes it up the poo valley," jokes Cosmo, a restaurant worker downing midday beers on Sydney’s Oxford Street.

Cosmo, 24, couldn’t give a toss if Tony Abbott feels threatened. Same old, he says. "I honestly think he’s a dickhead. Period. He just wants attention."

Shoulder shrug, eye roll, nasty jibe. The gay cafe set is unflustered to learn that they challenge the "right order of things" (Abbott’s words). "The guy’s a tool," said one. Another: "Got other things to worry about, mate."

Off the street, Tony Abbott’s remarks hit home-sweet-home in the online comments to news articles. "Whether you agree with him or not, at least Tony Abbott says what he thinks," posted one Herald Sun reader. Another: "It is threatening. It always will be, as it goes against what is natural in procreation."

If elected, will a threatened Tony Abbott wind back gay rights? Gay activists don’t think so. In fact, according to one gay historian, Abbott would find it hard to battle the rising tide of acceptance — even if he did have an anti-gay plan.

It started on Sunday night with a profile piece for 60 Minutes. Asked about homosexuality by Liz Hayes, Abbott replied, "I feel a bit threatened … as so many people [do]".

The next day, Lateline anchor Leigh Sales asked a pink tie-clad Abbott to explain. "Well, there is no doubt that it challenges, if you like, orthodox notions of the right order of things, but as I also said on the program, it happens, it’s a fact of life and we have to treat people as we find them," Abbott said.

Gay alarm bells rang. "I’m very surprised", Corey Irlam from the Australian Coalition for Equality told me. "This is some of the strongest language we’ve heard from any major leader of a party in the last decade against homosexuality."

Another case of the hip-shooting honesty that pollsters say gives Abbott traction? "I take it on face value that the initial comment was off the cuff," says Irlam. "But the second time was atrocious and calculated."

"Wildly irresponsible, but not calculated," is the way Dr Graham Willet puts it. He’s Deputy Director of the Australian Centre at the University of Melbourne. He published Living Out Loud: A History of Gay and Lesbian Activism in Australia in 2000.

"You can’t take on anything very seriously," he says. "He just seems to say stuff." But in this instance, Abbott probably "said something he really feels".

Irlam and Willet agree about the negative impact of comments like these. "For people who are vulnerable — young queer people — it says that, yes, there is something wrong with what you do … and that view is being endorsed by our leaders," says Willet.

"I’m worried about the validity his comments give to someone in the country who perhaps personally feels threatened, and that turns into actual discrimination," says Irlam.

But the more we learn about Abbott, the more we realise we know him already. We’ve heard this language before.

In 2000, as Employment Services Minister in the Howard government, Tony Abbott pledged to protect Christian agencies’ right to hire and fire those who lived "openly at variance with Church teaching", including gay and lesbian workers.

In September 2003, the Howard government voted against amendments to a bill allowing same-sex couples equal access to superannuation. "Look, I’m in favour of human rights, but I’m not in favour of putting gay relationships on the same pedestal that you put traditional Christian marriage," Abbott said at the time.

In 2004, a mix of perceived ABC political correctness and gay visibility inflamed Abbott once more. The ABC aired — twice — a 30 second clip of a group of girls heading to a fun fair on Play School. "My mums are taking me and my friend Meryn to an amusement park," said the narrator, Brenna. That single "s" in "mums" sparked an election-year storm. As Health Minister, Abbott said, "I think that if I’d been watching it with my kids, I’d have been a bit shocked." (The then federal opposition leader, Mark Latham, also criticised the program, saying parents, not TV producers, should choose when to expose children to society’s diversity).

In 2006, Abbott characterised the gay rights movement as an "adult hang up", and a burden to kids. The Tillman Park Children’s Centre in Sydney was using books that feature children with gay, lesbian and transgender parents. "I think it’s really pretty wacky stuff," Abbott told reporters. "Kids of that age just want to get on with being kids and why should we inflict all our adult hang-ups and angst on kids. Let children be children. Let them worry about all that stuff later. Let’s not force it on them."

Abbott certainly isn’t the only vocal opponent to some aspects of gay rights but, as Willet points out, it’s not solely the government of the day that determines the progress of gay and lesbian rights in the community. There are many stakeholders involved and it’s worth remembering, says Willett, that "[during] the Howard years we made enormous progress in terms of gay and lesbian rights, [which demonstrates that] the federal government is not the be all and end all". Willett doesn’t believe that an Abbott government would sound the death knell of the gay rights movement: "Even if he had a plan to stop gay and lesbian rights, I don’t think he could do it."

It was in fact the independent Australian Human Rights Commission that prompted Rudd’s 2008 omnibus review of laws relating to financial and workplace benefits and entitlements for gay people, says Willet. "You can see lots of ways in which the cabinet and the federal government don’t have a lot of power." It happened on their watch — but it was the work of another government organisation.

Australia has been "swamped by a rising tide" of acceptance of gay and lesbian rights, says Willet. In a 2003 poll, just 34 per cent of Australians were in favour of legal recognition for same-sex couples. A poll a year later found 38 per cent of Australians in favour. By February 2006, 53 per cent of Australians thought the government should introduce laws recognising same-sex relationships. In 2007, that number had risen to 71 per cent. Most young people support equal partnership rights. The trend is clear.

Gabi Rosenstreich from the National LGBT Health Alliance agrees. "The majority of Australians are fairly sensible people and I doubt that many of them share his views of being threatened."

While Abbott’s comments are alarming, she says, they don’t change the focus of activism. The Liberal Party doesn’t have a history of being proactive, she says, "but people learn, and we’re happy to work with them on that. At the same time we shouldn’t become complacent about the rights we have achieved."

"The concern isn’t about Abbott’s comments rolling the clock back, its about not letting the ball roll forward," says Corey. But he too is willing to work with anyone in power. His organisation has invited Abbott to meet "ordinary gay and lesbian Australians and their families". No response, yet.

"We will work with anyone who is interested in the health and well being of all Australians", says Rosenstreich. "We are not a threat to society, we are society".

"We can’t go back," Willet says. "We have changed spectacularly. You can hold the line. But there’s no going back."


This was received by email on 9 March 2010 and is yet further support for what we have been saying for some time - the federal government's homophobia continues unabated:

Daniel Stubbs, co-ordinator of the Sydney Inner City Legal Centre, writes:


Sue-Ann Post ("The pink list: Centrelink couples register scaring the pants off gays" -- raises some important issues of discrimination and unequal treatment. But there are other issues at play.

I don’t deny such pink-list persecution is possible. But perhaps more importantly, recent law reforms -- an excellent first step, certainly -- are discriminatory in themselves.

The reforms to Centrelink entitlements for same-sex relationships do not include a grandfathering or extended delays provision. When the aged pension entitlement age was changed from 65 to 67 the implementation date was delayed by more than 15 years -- minimising its impact on those currently preparing for retirement and ensuring it didn’t alter the entitlement of anyone currently on the aged pension.

Similarly, the significant changes to entitlement arrangements for disability support pensioners saw current recipients have their existing arrangements grandfathered or, at worst, changes delayed to allow time to adjust their circumstances.

Couples in any relationship make life-changing decisions -- living together, living near one person’s aging parent, near the other's workplace, etc -- that are hard, if not impossible, to undo. If one or both of them are in receipt of a Centrelink entitlement the economics of the decision have just been seriously undermined.

Remember, no one gets rich on Centrelink entitlements -- they just get by, hopefully with some dignity.

Certainly, the gay community has benefited from dozens of other federal law reforms -- from changes to the health insurance rebate to spousal entitlements in Commonwealth superannuation. But it is regressive law reform that takes money from gay people on low incomes and gives it to richer couples.

Fiscally neutral perhaps, it has made many people more comfortable while causing others to change lives/living arrangements -- or consider breaking up from their current relationship.

Centrelink investigations can be intrusive -- they may take into account sleeping arrangements, sharing of bills, joint purchase of furniture and other factors indicating interdependency. To those couples not "out" -- and many are not, at least in some parts of their lives including workplaces, neighbourhoods, families and other associations -- it can be devastating.

It’s important to remember the 85 law reforms did not create equality for people who are gay or lesbian in Australia. For example, it was relatively recently that the federal government explicitly banned same-s-x marriage. On a last-in first-out basis it would have been nice if this change could have been reversed along with the many other long-standing discriminatory laws.

And then there are the state-based laws still in need of reform, including in New South Wales -- once the most progressive state for people who are gay or lesbian.

So, while it is true the "pink list" may provide for persecution due to inter-departmental data matching, privacy breaches and other inappropriate uses of personal information, it’s only a possible eventuality. These federal law reforms currently serve to highlight the marginalisation of people who are gay or lesbian in Australia by bringing into sharp focus the discrimination and unequal treatment of the gay and lesbian community.

07 March 2010


The following letter appeared in The Senior, Victoria, edition in March 2010. The contents of the letter illustrate the ongoing hypocrisy and homophobia of the federal government.

The item which has infuriated those of us affected by the federal government’s July 2009 changes to legislation, giving certain rights to lesbian, gay, transgender and HIV/AIDS (LGTH) members of the community who are in same-sex relationships, is highlighted in the letter below.

Macklin, McClelland, Ludwig, Bowen, Rudd, Ferguson and others wrote letters (or their underlings) in response to our requests for grandfathering or transitioning the changes so that the more vulnerable members of our communities, the aged, disabled, disadvantaged and those handicapped for many other reasons, would not suffer financial loss because the government was changing legislation to give same-sex relationships “equal” rights with heterosexual de facto relationships.

The requests were refused because, according to the Attorney-General, the legislative changes were broad-based and gave us equality which could not be fragmented.

Yet below is an example of just that for other pensioners.

What hypocrisy and homophobia!

I have highlighted the paragraph which is so insulting, and put it in italics to emphasise, yet again, the Rudd government’s insults and crumbs thrown at the LGTH communities.

And where is Senator Penny Wong in all this????????????????

Stimulus not so stimulating for some

I’m sure most taxpayers and pensioners were happy to receive their stimulus packages. I’m also sure that most people were wondering who would end up paying for it.

From September 20, 2009, all new superannuation and part disability pensioners lose at least $1000 every year. The new taper rate will be even worse for many, because you won’t get a health card or any payment.

Community Services Minister Jenny Macklin sent a statement to all who receive a part pension saying they would not be disadvantaged. A new transitional rate would protect existing pensioners who would otherwise have a reduction in their payment.

That’s fine for people with a permanent fixed income under the limit. But beware the fine print.

It is worst for couples when the working partner has a variable income. If in any one fortnight your combined income goes over $2771 you will be cut off and put onto the new $59,124 limit.

Beware of any bonuses or overtime. Your average annual income, and the six fortnightly reporting system is ignored.

For example, if you have superannuation of $30,000 per annum and your partner gets a short term job, as soon as they earn over $1617 per fortnight you will be cut off and put onto the new system.

Within six fortnights they must cut their income to below $1120 per fortnight or you will lose the health card and all the benefits.

P Werry, Narre Warren.


There have been some interesting articles about Palestine/Israel recently because of the assassination in Dubai of a person allegedly a Hamas leader, the assassination allegedly carried out by the Israeli secret service Mossad.

The world has no doubt that Mossad was responsible, but they are outraged because Mossad used forged passports of citizens from various countries, including Australia.

The article below drew about 165 responses to the online version of The Age, and there were some letters in the Sunday Age 0f 7 March 2010 which will be placed below this article.

One of the letter-writers has a Bayswater, Melbourne, address, but has the absolutely extraordinary chutzpah to criticise Ross Burns for his article in the Sunday Age of 28 February 2009, stating: "And what gives Ross Burns the right to sit in comfort and safety on the other side of the world and pontificate and moralise and split legal hairs----".

I have read some amazing crap from zionists who support Israel uncritically under all circumstances, but this one reaches levels of chutzpah almost second to none.

Palestinians painted as animals while Israel goes scot-free
March 5, 2010

Comments 165

As the son of a Palestinian refugee expelled from his native homeland, there are few things I cherish more than my gift of freedom. However, being born and bred in Australia has not shielded me from being tagged with a label that is the unfortunate lot of all first-generation Palestinians. To some, we simply do not exist, and when we do, we are terrorists, animals or sub-human.

Such deliberate misrepresentations and stereotypes are constantly propagated, but to read unsubstantiated claims about Palestinians in a serious newspaper (Julie Szego, Comment, 3/3) was highly offensive.

Over the years, Palestinians have been accused of terrible things. The Israelis claim that we use our children as human shields. Despite propagating this lie repeatedly, Israel has never provided conclusive proof of it. Nonetheless, the lie has come to be accepted as ''truth''.

Yet contrary to such misconceptions, Amnesty International says in its report ''Israel/Gaza Operation 'Cast Lead': 22 days of death and destruction'' that it was Israeli soldiers who used Palestinians as human shields.

Amnesty's conclusion was unambiguous. It "did not find evidence that Hamas or other Palestinian groups violated the laws of war to the extent repeatedly alleged by Israel … In particular, it found no evidence that Hamas or other fighters directed the movement of civilians to shield military objectives from attacks." But it did find ''that Israeli forces on several occasions during Operation 'Cast Lead' forced Palestinian civilians to serve as 'human shields'.''

Human Rights Watch, the UN and the internationally respected jurist Justice Richard Goldstone delivered similar findings.

Goldstone, a South African Jew and ardent Zionist, has been savagely attacked by Israel and its lobbyists since his report on violations by both Hamas and Israel was released.

The 1.5 million Palestinians hermetically sealed into the tiny Gaza enclave have been deprived of almost every basic provision for nearly four years because they elected politicians not to the world's liking, yet Hamas was democratically elected in free and fair elections.

Whatever grievances the world has with the Hamas leadership, the civilian population ought not to be punished for exercising its right to vote.

It does not mean that we should condone violence or terrorism carried out by Hamas militants, but neither should we condone the violence and acts of terror perpetrated by Israel.

In 1997, then Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu sanctioned the failed assassination attempt on Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal in Jordan, and were it not for Meshaal's bodyguard, the assassins would have escaped. The ensuing diplomatic furore resulted in Netanyahu being forced to hand over the antidote that saved Meshaal from the poison injected by two Mossad agents travelling on fake Canadian passports.

Now Netanyahu is back as Israel's Prime Minister, and again under his watch Israel is strongly suspected of carrying out an execution in a foreign country with the assassins fraudulently using the passports of various countries around the globe, including Australia.

While Israel blithely propagates falsehoods that stigmatise all Palestinians, it sanctions murder and allows the identities of its own and foreign citizens to be dangerously compromised.

We should feel reassured that our Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, a staunch ally of Israel, said that he would ''not be silent on the matter'' of the three fraudulently used Australian passports and identities. That is to be expected. But equally, Rudd should speak out in support of the UN-backed Goldstone report that seeks accountability for the shocking actions during Israel's war on Gaza in January last year.

Instead, Australia voted once in the UN against a war crimes investigation and, since the passport revelations, it abstained - all the while maintaining its opposition to the Goldstone report. Such a lame response should cause us to wonder if Australia will really hold Israel to account.

International law is there to safeguard all of the citizens of the world. Its strength is that it is universal: it knows no borders, religion, colour or creed - at least that's what it was intended for.

As long as countries such as Australia allow Israel a free hand to do what it wants without any regard for international law, people everywhere will suddenly find our world a much more threatening place in which to live.

As a Palestinian still tagged with ugly labels, that is not an experience I would wish on anyone.

Moammar Mashni is a spokesman for Australians for Palestine.

Letters from the Sunday Age, 7 March 2010:

Break down the barriers, end apartheid

March 7, 2010

CONSIDERING that the eminent lawyer Richard Goldstone ''helped dismantle the race-based political system of South Africa'' and helped the country ''map a law-based path to negotiations'' (Ross Burns, Opinion, 28/2), he should be appointed to dismantle Israeli apartheid. This should include East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Ghetto, which remain under Israeli military occupation despite decades of prattle about a ''two-state solution''. Israel's vigilante ''justice'' system now soils our Australian credentials.

If we all read Goldstone's report to the United Nations on Operation Cast Lead, there would be few regrets at withdrawing diplomatic support for this brutal Israeli regime and its blatant and systematic oppression of Palestinians. This is the ''existential struggle'' that Israelis, like Sarah Honig (Opinion, 28/2), fear.


You wouldn't complain if they'd got bin Laden

WOULD the Australian Prime Minister be worried about passports if Osama bin Laden was killed. No, I think those managing to carry out such a killing would become ''heroes of freedom''. Why double standards for Israel, when a self-professed killer of their people is assassinated? A terrorist is a terrorist and Hamas is a declared terrorist group.

SANDRA GORDON, Elsternwick

They couldn't help it, it was the only way

SARAH Honig's defence of Israel's actions (Opinion, 28/2) is an interesting perspective to see. Start by saying that everything is turned upside down; truth and lies, good and evil are given equal standing. Then demolish the target, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, as deserving of his fate. State that no one has proof of Israel's involvement, and other Palestinian factions and Iran may have been involved. Then argue that even if it was Mossad, Western countries indulge in the same thing. Anyway, they are only protesting because they want to buy some anti-aggression insurance, and join the Israel-bashing fraternity.

If they focus on the legal technicality of passport forgery, the West is morally impoverished and denies Israel any possible measure in aid of its own defence. There is plainly just nothing Israel can do to secure itself. So there you are, Mossad just had to kill Mabhouh, and use false passports of Australians to assist.

TOM FANNING, Balwyn North

Armchair philosophising a total waste

WHY are Australian authorities wasting resources on finding Mahmoud al-Mabhouh's assassins (''Australia joins hunt for killers'', 28/2)? They would be far better employed using our taxes to assist Israel, the only civilised, liberal democratic state in the Middle East, in its struggle against its Islamofascist regional neighbours such as Ahmadinejad's Iran, from whom al-Mabhouh was buying weapons to murder Jewish children.

And what gives Ross Burns the right to sit in comfort and safety on the other side of the world and pontificate and moralise and split legal hairs about a country surrounded by enemies who either deny the Holocaust or are keen to repeat it? Thank goodness for Sarah Honig's exposure of the double standards in the current orgy of Israel-bashing.

The single greatest scandal of Western journalism is the fact that Israel receives more criticism than all the world's genuine abusers of human rights - communist, Islamist and other (e.g. Burma, Zimbabwe) - put together.

BILL JAMES, Bayswater

03 March 2010


On Sunday night, 28 February 2010, the ABC's Compass programme was called "For the Bible tells me so".

The programme was about fundamentalist christians in the USA and what happened to them when family members came out as gay or lesbian.

It was an interesting programme and viewers were invited to contribute to the programme's guest book for comments on what they had seen.

At the end of the programme Geraldine Doogue had certain helplines on the screen with details such as phone numbers and other information.

One of the organisations listed was Jeff Kennett's homophobic beyondblue which for the last 10 years has refused to help gay, lesbian, transgender and HIV/AIDS members of those communities who needed help with issues such as depression, ideation of suicide and other related matters.

Most of the contributions to the guest book were from fundamentalist christians who hate homosexuals, and a few were from those who said the bible was ridiculous and written by a collection of silly old men who put their ignorance and prejudice down in writing, to the detriment subsequently, of millions of people around the world.

I sent in a statement about beyondblue and its homophobia, and was rewarded by ABC censorship which I can only conclude was another piece of homophobia from the ABC, Compass and Geraldine Doogue.

Yet another setback in our struggle for equality!!


This article was in the Sunday Age on 28 February 2010 next to one of the most reactionary zionist items from the Jerusalem Post that the editor of the Sunday Age could possibly have dredged up from the murky depths of its unquestioning support for Israel. BUT THE WORLD IS CHANGING AS ISRAEL FINALLY DIGS ITS OWN GRAVE!

Hitting the wrong target
February 28, 2010

Australia’s strong response to Israel comes after years of uncritical support.

IN THE course of a career in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, much of it spent handling Middle East matters, I rarely heard language as portentous as the statements on relations with Israel from Australian political leaders in the past couple of days.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said he had called in the ambassador of Israel to seek Israel's co-operation in following up information that three Australian passports were used by suspects allegedly associated with the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a senior Hamas figure inDubai.

"I made it crystal clear to the ambassador that if the results of that investigation cause us to come to the conclusion that the abuse of Australian passports was in any way sponsored or condoned by Israeli officials, then Australia would not regard that as the act of a friend . . . In the course of that inquiry, we would expect the Israeli government . . . to fully co-operate . . . If we don't receive that cooperation, then there is a distinct possibility that we would draw adverse conclusions."

The message was even stronger in Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's version: "This is of the deepest concern to the Australian government . . . It is not just one of those little things that happens that you deal with today and it's fixed tomorrow."

This prompt response to the protection of Australian national interests is fully justified. But it is remarkable in that the present government, led by a prime minister happy to be described as a "Zionist", has held back from the slightest criticism of Israel, in spite of the many excesses of its response to the rocketing from Gaza in early 2009 and in the face of the obvious disinterest in the Netanyahu government in ending settlement activity on occupied lands to advance a "two-state solution".

What has gone wrong? Has Australia encouraged in Israel an assumption that it is not just a supporter of Israel but an uncritical one? The acting prime minister during the Gaza operation, Julia Gillard, quickly cranked out two mantras - "Hamas brought this on itself" and "Israel has a right to defend itself". She neglected to add that the "right to defend itself" also requires it to act within international norms.

While most Western countries have been cautious in their dealings with Benjamin Netanyahu and his openly anti-Arab Foreign Minister, Australia appeared more enthused than ever. Instead of buttressing US President Barack Obama's stand on settlement activity, for instance, Australia floated a series of vacuous but highly symbolic gestures towards Israel including parliamentary congratulations on the sixth decade of its existence (not normally a topic for parliamentary resolutions) and instituting a "leadership exchange" jamboree at deputy prime ministerial level that no other nation enjoys except the United States.

Most inexplicably of all, perhaps, Australia has been in the forefront of those countries that have chosen to blacken the UN fact-finding mission on the Gaza war, headed by Richard Goldstone. I knew Goldstone in South Africa as a judge in the Orange Free State. Even under apartheid, he had devised a notable process of law reform that helped unravel the race-based political system. His energy, imagination and sincerity were without bounds.

I flew down to Bloemfontein to tap some of that inspiration while I was waiting to present credentials to then president F. W. de Klerk. The day we spent talking was among the most heartening I spent in South Africa. In my view, he did more than anyone except Nelson Mandela to help South Africa map a law-based path to negotiations. None of this has been noted 15 years later in Australia's bucketing of his immensely thorough and impartial work last year.

This is perhaps an indicator, too, of our downgrading of the status of UN resolutions that define how a peaceful outcome to the Palestinian issue must be realised.

The ALP has stripped all reference to those UN instruments from its policy platform- strange for a party that still claims an "internationalist" approach to world affairs. Stranger still for a country that aspires to a seat on the Security Council.

Likewise, the government has sadly completed the work of its predecessor in neglecting our links with the Arab world. Except for drop-by calls on the way to Iraq or Afghanistan or to attend international meetings, I am aware of no bilateral foreign ministerial visits to the Arab world.

Of course, nothing that Australia might have said would necessarily have dissuaded Mossad from its obsessive tradecraft, and several countries more measured in their approach to Israel had their passports abused. The episode has all the marks of another over-the-top operation, the objectives of which could never justify the fallout. As soon as a figure like Mahmoud al- Mabhouh is rubbed out, another 10 enter the system.

It is unlikely that Australia will get the co-operation it seeks. The dark fulminations will pass. Economic links are minimal and won't be affected. The ambassador-designate might have to cool her heels a bit longer in Canberra and the scrutiny of anything the Israelis present as "evidence" might be intensified.

Given community pressures and an election coming up, the old pattern will resume-hopefully, however, with fewer oscillations between euphoria and rejection.

That requires a more hard-nosed emphasis on Australian interests, including those in the wider region, by a government and party that have been too smitten for their own (or Israel's) good.

Ross Burns is a former Australian ambassador.


Welcome to my blog and let me know what you think about my postings.

My web pages also have a wide range of topics which are added to when possible. Look for them in any search engine under


I hope you find items of interest!

Search This Blog


Blog Archive

Total Pageviews

About Me

My photo
Preston, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
90 years old, political gay activist, hosting two web sites, one personal: http://www.red-jos.net one shared with my partner, 94-year-old Ken Lovett: http://www.josken.net and also this blog. The blog now has an alphabetical index: http://www.red-jos.net/alpha3.htm