Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Fiona Patten, Sex party convenor

The birth of the Australian Sex Party is something to celebrate, though I'm not expecting it to sweep the scene. I think though that we've reached the stage, even if it's only due to an increase in diversity, that we can seriously, if not too seriously, use the sex word in the title of a political party. Its stated aim, or one of them, is to counter what it sees as the growing influence of religious groups as lobbyists, and of Family First as an essentially Christian conservative party. The influx of Moslem immigrant groups, and other religious immigrants, might also be a concern regarding the maintenance of a truly secular polity. I'm hoping that secularism and the promotion of a sexually healthy and more open society can find common ground to work within.
I note that sex education, for example, is on the ASP agenda, and having noted the appalling response to a more inclusive attitude to homosexuality from the arch-conservative religious school of one of my previous foster-kids [who just happened to be a confused young homosexual], I feel strongly about defending a secularised, inclusive sex education system.

There are many focus issues, even if they're not so high on the agenda now that the economic crisis is carrying all before it. Sex education, abortion, gay marriage, the puritanical [and killing] conditions attached to overseas aid, censorship, the funding of religious schools and institutions, issues around prostitution and pornography, sex discrimination, sexual health issues, drug laws and other civil liberties issues, to name just a few broad areas. The whole idea of this party - the only sex party I'd ever have the chance of being invited to, I suspect [as an overweight, middle-aged single male] - is quite rejuvenating, and I'd quite like to get involved as more than just a member. I've bookmarked the site and I'll pay a membership fee and I'll email them re volunteering. I have writing skills to offer, at least. Of course I might have to tread carefully as a foster carer who receives, in that role, considerable support from a religious charity, though they've never mentioned religion to me and I doubt that all their workers are True Believers. Still, combining foster care with libertine causes might make for a tough juggle. 

I've already spoken of this stuff to my current foster kid [who's seventeen and about to fly the coop] and we discussed a couple of the issues, namely gay marriage and abortion. On abortion, he thinks it shouldn't be freely available, but only under certain conditions, such as not having the funds to care for a child, or being too young, or too old... and he also thinks the father of the child should have a say. Like most teens, he puts his finger well on the general dilemmas but hasn't thought through the details, the implications for each particular case ... but then he finished with the view that each individual case should be taken on its merits, which is fine but it doesn't take us too far. The whole discussion made me aware how little I know about what happens when a woman presents for an abortion. Presumably she has counselling choices but may not take those options. Presumably the father doesn't rate a mention? There are quite a few ethical issues kicking around just there. 

The lad also argues that gays shouldn't be allowed to be married, because marriage is a Christian ceremony and the Bible's dead against homosexuality. He's dead against the Bible himself, but he somehow seems to feel that if you're gay you wouldn't want to be married, or a Christian, because of Biblical injunctions against homosexuality. I pointed out of course that there were many homosexual Christians and that marriage isn't just a Christian tradition, and of course he said he knew all that... and he modified his view to allow at least civil gay marriages, which are presumably outlawed still by the current Federal government. Again I felt that I should bone up on the issues. Earlier this year, Federal Labor worked on reforming all they could reform re discriminatory legislation around gender and sexual orientation, but they stopped short of giving gay marriage the go-ahead. Why? What was their rationale? How instrumental was the Christian Rudd in this decision? And as to the reforms, have they now passed through both houses and become law? 

There are plenty of other issues to investigate and monitor. There is apparently a strong will within this Federal government to overturn the Harradine-inspired policy which ties overseas aid funding to an anti-abortion message, but it hasn't happened yet. And then there's this proposed internet filter...

This article on the Harradine policy is an online version of one I read yesterday in a doctor's surgery. Possibly a bit sensationalist, but not bad for a fashion rag, I thought. 

Hopefully I  can make a real connection with this party, but I'll have to change my shy ways. Apparently they're launching the new party at Melbourne's Sexpo, and I've never been able to dig up the courage to go to one of them....

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