Identity Politics in the Age of Trump

I was recently watching a documentary about the Trump Presidency and saw a highly disturbing interview with a man representing an organisation called ‘Gays for Trump’. I was shocked that a gay man, someone who has presumably experienced a level of discrimination himself, could support a candidate who so clearly fans the flames of hatred and division.

Unfortunately, of course, this isn’t really that unusual. Right-wing political parties in Australia have LGBTQ members and many LGBTQ people continue to support parties that actively stymie progress on our human rights. Voters weigh up a variety of factors before casting their ballots and LGBTQ people, like all other members of the community, wear a number of different hats. We are workers, bosses, parents, brothers, sisters, partners — all of these identities colour the way in which we see ourselves and the political world.

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Greens Push For National Water Centre

Bension Siebert, Indaily, 24 June 2016

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The research centre is the latest pledge from the Greens as next week’s July 2 federal election looms.

Under the plan, the institute would be given almost $27 million per year to conduct research on sustainable agriculture, water recycling, stormwater harvesting, water-sensitive urban design and water efficiency.

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Should Religion Be Exempt From Anti-Discrimination Laws?

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Greens senator Robert Simms wants to remove religious exemptions from the Sex Discrimination Act. He says the provisions in the law allow for religious organisations to discriminate against staff or clients who are from sexual minorities. To debate the question, we talked to Senator Simms and Terry Tobin, a leading Queens Counsel and former chancellor of Notre Dame University.

Listen to the debate on the Religion and Ethics Report. 

Greens Promise To End Religious Exemptions To Sex Discrimination Act

Paul Karp, The Guardian, 17 May 2016 

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The Greens have promised to remove religious exemptions to federal anti-discrimination law and increase funding to the Safe Schools anti-bullying program.

The promises are contained in broad-ranging Greens policy for LGBTI rights to be released on Tuesday by their LGBTI equality spokesman, Robert Simms, and gender identity spokeswoman, Janet Rice.

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Michelle Grattan talks to Robert Simms about the evolution of The Greens

The future of senator Robert Simms, one of the freshest faces in the Greens team, may hang on whether he is first or second on his party’s ticket. In his home state of South Australia, where the Nick Xenophon Team looks to be strong, the Greens face a particularly tough battle. But Simms tells Michelle Grattan he thinks the Greens have a chance of retaining their two seats. Listen to the interview here. 

 

More Action Needed To Combat Homophobia In Schools And In Parliament

I was about 10 when I was first called a “fag” and a “poof”. At that time I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I knew it wasn’t a compliment. The names had a new sting when I realised that I was gay and even though I was in the closet for my teenage years, it seemed there was no fooling the kids in the school yard. The idea of coming out and being open about my sexuality filled me with dread.

There’s no doubt that Australia has changed a lot since I was at school. There are far more gay people in public life and popular culture and differences in sexuality are discussed much more openly. That’s a wonderful thing. But unfortunately homophobia is still alive and well in the school yard and, as demonstrated last week, in parliament.

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This New Senator Had a Message For Australia’s LGBTI Kids In His Maiden Speech

Lane Saintly, Buzzfeed News, October 14, 2015 

“I stand here today as an out and proud gay man. But it certainly wasn’t always so,” Simms told the chamber.

“I remember I was around 12 when I realised I was gay, I was in my final year at primary school. It was a secret I carried for a long time – indeed I didn’t tell anyone until I was in my early twenties.”

A former councillor for the city of Adelaide and Greens political staffer, Simms replaced South Australian Greens senator Penny Wright. He holds the portfolios for higher education, LGBTI issues and water.

Simms joins three other openly LGB members of the Australian parliament, including Labor senator Penny Wong, Liberal senator Dean Smith and Greens senator Janet Rice.

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Simms To Propose $800 Million Green Jobs Scheme

Bension Siebert, InDaily, 30 September 2015 

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South Australia’s automative industry would receive part of a green-tinged $800 million funding package if a former Adelaide City councillor has his way.

New SA Greens Senator Robert Simms will propose a Green Car Transformation Scheme to directly subsidise environmentally friendly automotive industries as his first Bill when the Senate returns next month.

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Simms To Propose $800 Million Green Car Scheme

Bension Sibert, InDaily, 30 September 2015

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South Australia’s automative industry would receive part of a green-tinged $800 million funding package if a former Adelaide City councillor has his way.

New SA Greens Senator Robert Simms will propose a Green Car Transformation Scheme to directly subsidise environmentally friendly automotive industries as his first Bill when the Senate returns next month.

Continue reading “Simms To Propose $800 Million Green Car Scheme”

Adelaide City Councillor Robert Simms Is Our Rainbow Warrior

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Katie Spain, SA Weekend, 28 August 2016 

THERE’S a lot to love about rainbows. People marvel their beauty and songs are written about their allure. Put the colours red, orange, yellow, green, indigo and violet side-by-side on a flag, however, and they’re more than a miracle of nature.

For members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, the rainbow flag is an international symbol of pride. For some, it is also a symbol of support.

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Time for Labor to bind on marriage equality

Buoyed by growing momentum for marriage equality, Deputy Labor Leader Tanya Plibersek is leading the charge for her party to put its money where its mouth is by making support for this reform binding.

While some in Labor’s right flank might resent being forced to toe the line, ultimately the ALP only stands to gain should it finally show some backbone on this human rights issue.

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Where to now for the Greens?

The 2013 election outcome could only be described as mixed for the Australian Greens. The party achieved something rare among minor parties – having not only won a lower house seat at the previous election, it also successfully defended it this time around. But the jubilation of Adam Bandt’s victory in the seat of Melbourne was offset by the realisation that the party’s nationwide share of the primary vote had declined significantly. In the House of the Representatives, the Greens hemorrhaged more than a quarter of their 2010 vote; in the Senate, around a third of voters opted to move their vote elsewhere.

The outcome sparked the usual speculation about the Greens’ longevity, and grist was added to the mill when six of Christine Milne’s senior members of staff quit within weeks of the election. Importantly, the result raised the question of whether the Greens might go the same way as the now (almost) defunct Australian Democrats.

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