Gay community waits for Coalition's move

Ron Hughes - MCV
With the Coalition claiming victory in the November 27 Victorian state election, fears have been raised that recent progress on LGBTI issues may slow. Prior to the election, the Labor Government promised a raft of projects worth millions to support the GLBTI community and fight homophobia. Richard Wynne, re-elected Labor MP for the seat of Richmond, told MCV those programs, or anything like them, are now seriously in doubt.

Polyamory is the new gay -  With CultureWatch response

Linda Kirkman - Latrobe University
Keeping up with social change is exciting, and important. There is a growing awareness of polyamory as a way to form relationships and families, and it is on the frontier of social change in acceptance of relationships. The more aware and accepting of diversity in relationships the more healthy our society is. It is not to be confused with polygamy, which is associated with religious laws that permit multiple wives, and does not have the same emphasis on an individual’s autonomy and agency.

Consultation on Bill to Legalise Surrogacy

Tasmanian Attorney-General Lara Giddings today released for public comment draft legislation to legalise altruistic surrogacy in Tasmania.
Ms Giddings said the Surrogacy Bill, which she aimed to introduce in the first sitting of State Parliament next year, would legalise surrogacy in certain defined circumstances. “This legislation would help many Tasmanians to realise their dream of starting a family,” Ms Giddings said. “I recognise that this is a complex and contentious area and that is why I intend to allow time for the community to comment on the draft legislation.

All power to Baillieu as upper house win looms

Tim Colebatch - The Age
The Baillieu government appears set to control both houses of Parliament, after a late surge in voting for the Greens knocked maverick independent Stephen Mayne out of the race in the Northern Metro region. With almost all votes counted, the Liberals appear set to squeeze home in all three of the close races for the new Legislative Council. This would give the Coalition a bare majority of 21 seats in the 40-member chamber - a gain of four seats from the 17 it held in the old Council. Labor looks set to end up with just 16 seats, down from 19 in the old chamber. The Greens have retained their three seats in the Council but lost the balance of power. And the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) has lost its one seat, that of its leader, Peter Kavanagh.

FBI issues warning over new Barbie doll with video camera that could be used to produce child pornography

The FBI has issued a cyber crime alert on a new Barbie doll that comes with a hidden video camera.  Mattel's Barbie Video Girl has a video camera lens built into its necklace that can record up to 30 minutes of footage to be downloaded on a computer. Officials warn that it could possibly be used to produce child pornography, but say they don't have any reported crimes. The FBI's Sacramento office issued a report with the warning on the doll last month.

Self-harm in detention centres on rise

Sean Parnell and Lanai Vasek - The Australian
The Immigration Department is experiencing an increase in self-harm cases and violent incidents at detention centres. The rise comes a year after receiving advice that mandatory detention was bad for asylum-seekers.  As investigations continue into the apparent suicide of a detainee at Villawood, in western Sydney, yesterday, The Australian has learned the department paid the University of NSW about $80,000 to review the international research on resolving immigration status only to then sit on the report. Between July 1 and November 18, there were 79 recorded incidents of self-harm in detention centres, compared with 39 the previous financial year.

Help the needy not the noisy

Gary Johns - The Australian
Give tax breaks to charities that aid the poor, not to lobbyists who help themselves. Charities are now free to do no charity work whatsoever. The High Court has done Labor no favours by removing the constraints on charities to lobby. The fundamental misconception of the decision Aid/Watch Incorporated v Commissioner of Taxation (December 1, 2010) is that the High Court mistook charities' freedom to play politics with their freedom to play taxpayer-subsidised politics. The tax office was quite rightly seeking to remove Aid/Watch's charitable status on the basis that its dominant purpose was not charitable. Aid/Watch's dominant purpose was to lobby. They never helped a soul on the ground. That remains true to this day. Justice Heydon, in the minority judgment found that "Aid/Watch did not have the goal of relieving poverty. It provided no funds, goods or services to the poor."

States to consider rights of genderless people

Sean Nicholls - SMH
The need for a national approach to legal recognition of ''genderless'' people - who identify as neither male nor female - will be raised by the NSW Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos, at a meeting of his state and territory counterparts in Canberra tomorrow. The issue was highlighted in the Herald in March through the story of Norrie, a genderless Sydneysider who has battled the state bureaucracy for the right to be recorded as ''sex not specified'' on official documents. Norrie, who was born in Scotland, became the first person in NSW to be neither man nor woman in the eyes of the state government after he was issued with a Recognised Details Certificate containing the notation. It was issued after two doctors agreed that Norrie, who was born male but had gender reassignment surgery and now prefers not to identify as either sex, was physically and psychologically androgynous.

In Iran, a Christian pastor faces death sentence

Joe Sterling - CNN
A Christan pastor in Iran has been sentenced to death for allegedly renouncing his Muslim religion and another faces a possible indictment on the same charge of apostasy, according to a prominent activist group working for human rights in Iran. Youcef Nadarkhani, a 32-year-old member of the Church of Iran ministry and pastor of an approximately 400-person congregation in the northern city of Rasht, faces death, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. In the southern city of Shiraz, another Christian pastor, Behrouz Sadegh-Khanjani, 35, is facing a possible indictment for apostasy. Christians are feeling the heat in other parts of the Muslim world as well.