By Siobhan Harris
‘The road to hell was paved with good intentions’
The simple truth is that intentions don’t mean much. Can you imagine explaining to your professor, ‘Sorry Professor, I didn’t submit my essay but I really did mean to write it’.
Just doesn’t cut the mustard.
Policy is no different. Politicians remind us, but look, see, this is what we wanted to achieve and then…you know…the big bad unpredictable external factor barged its way through the door and snatched our noble idea and now we’re left to pick up the pieces. Honest.
What they don’t tell you is that frankly it was rather a rubbish idea in the first place.
There are many examples of this in action. Bungled policy, delays, politically unsellable notions. Remember former PM Julia Gillard’s unfortunate ‘People’s Assembly’? Sure, It’s a lovely idea, in theory, but an absolute terror to explain or put in action. And so it failed, as these ideas often do.
Are we helpless? Is it natural that things go a little awry during the implementation period, always? Or can we learn to identify the beginnings of bad policy and tear it out from the roots and dispose of it.
So, before a lot of money, time, energy and other resources get spent on silly little ideas. Do something about it. Get involved in an action campaign, start one yourself and get yourself a little social media drive happening.
Not to sound preachy, or homework-ey but try to make a conscious effort to watch announcements by politicians. Watch and read the tweets. They’ll post pledges, they might test the waters first with some public feelers.
Write, bring your friends, get inspired to stop what you think is bad policy. If by some unfortunate stroke of bad luck occurs and the policy goes ahead anyway, you can continue your campaign, there’s no reason to stop fighting.
But what I wanted to stress was the time at which bad ideas can be killed. Before any commitments. Before any resource allocation. Get on the bandwagon, and do it quickly.
So please, complain and rise up against bad ideas and bad policy!
by Mahla Conomos
Many Australians are celebrating the A.C.T Marriage Act introduced earlier this week.
You may believe this has introduced full marriage equality to our nation’s capital but that’s not the case. The bill only recognizes same-sex couples. This means many intersex, gender diverse & trans* people are excluded from the current Marriage Act.
Marriage equality proved to be an important issue for many young Australians in the recent federal election. But we as the younger generation have to ensure justice for everyone on the LGBTI rainbow. True marriage equality means including & respecting the rights of intersex, gender diverse and trans* Australians. We cannot leave anyone behind like the current A.C.T Marriage Act does.
This Saturday marks Intersex Awareness Day. This is an opportunity for the intersex community, their allies and activists to raise awareness about intersex issues. To help celebrate Intersex Awareness Day I caught up with the remarkable Tony Briffa.
Tony has a very impressive resume being the former mayor & current councilor for Hobson Bay. Tony also happens to be intersex.
Here is what Tony has to say about the A.C.T Marriage Act and intersex issues.
Who does the intersex community in Australia include?
It includes people that are born with biological attributes of both sexes or lack some of the biological attributes considered necessary to be defined as one or the other sex. Our community also includes our families and allies.
Can you please clarify who is excluded from the A.C.T Marriage Act?
Couples not legally recognised to be in a same-sex relationship are excluded. This means people that are biologically born intersex will have to be either male or female exclusively in order to marry.
I think it is offensive we can’t marry someone irrespective of our biology. Why should we have to deny what nature made us to be given marriage recognition?
Australian Marriage Equality arguing intersex people like me can marry if we are in same sex relationships is like saying gay and lesbian people can marry if they marry someone of the opposite sex. I shouldn’t have to pretend to be in a same sex relationship to marry. My wife is a woman, I am intersex (a combination of male and female). I should not deny my male attributes to marry a woman in a same sex relationship, and I shouldn’t have to deny my female attributes to marry a man in a same sex relationship.
I was married 26 days ago in New Zealand and my sex didn’t matter. They have genuine marriage equality there.
You mentioned that you recently married your partner in New Zealand. How does it make you feel that you have to go overseas to get married & that you can’t get married in your own country?
Grossly disappointed. If I was born with any other biological variation I would not be discriminated against from accessing marriage. It’s important to me that I am true to myself. I accept the way I was born and should not have to deny being male and female.
What can we do as a community to achieve true marriage equality?
The only way to achieve true marriage equality is to change the Commonwealth Marriage Act to allow marriages for couples irrespective of their sex.
Is it at all off putting that a lot of people are celebrating the A.C.T Marriage Act as a victory while failing to acknowledge that it excludes trans*, intersex & gender diverse people?
It’s frustrating that groups like Australian Marriage Equality are misrepresenting what the new laws mean. They continue to claim they have achieved marriage equality, but that is far from the truth.
When it comes to LGBTI rights the focus seems to always been around marriage. Can you please tell me some other important issues that impact on intersex Australians?
Marriage is by no means the biggest issue for intersex people. The most significant human rights issue for us is the unnecessary irreversible surgeries many of us experience as children, the lack of relevant research about treatment options, and the lack of awareness about intersex people.
As previously mentioned there is a strong focus on marriage equality. Do you think the community at large needs to prioritize and really consider other issues that effect LGBTI people such as the medicalization of intersex children?
What are your goals in terms of activism for Intersex people?
1. Have medical treatment of intersex children based on proper research and with full respect of our human rights.
2. Increase community awareness.
3. Legal sex recognition for intersex adults that identify as “intersex” or “both male and female”.
4. Marriage equality
5. State based anti discrimination legislation
In terms of the mainstream media and the community at large the T & the I of the LGBTI acronym are often overlooked. How do you feel about that?
Frustrated, but we are making good inroads.
You have said “ intersex people like me don’t have any rights when we get older”. What do you mean by this?
I meant that we didn’t have rights as children because of all the surgical and hormonal intervention without our consent, and when we’re older we don’t have rights for things like marriage equality.
I understand that Australia was the first country to protect the rights of intersex people in August this year. Yet we have the Marriage Act that excludes people in our society. Do you think as a nation we are making progress or standing still when it comes to our awareness of intersex issues?
We are definitely making progress.
How can we as a society be more respectful to intersex & gender non-conformity people?
I can’t speak for gender non-conformity because my gender is exactly congruent with my body. I am biologically male and female and I feel like a man and a woman. I am true to myself and my biology.
The best way to increase respect for intersex people in general is by raising awareness. I am very open about being intersex and am widely accepted – hence me being elected Mayor.
Tony was included in the National Institute for Challenging Homophobia as part of ‘Your Story’
The MTV Movement launched on the UN International Day of Democracy, September 15, 2013. In just a couple of days, the top 5 entries will be announced and we’ll be a step closer to electing a Millennial leader. In the mean time, we have a little announcement of our own.
Today, a handful of young candidates will be TAKING OVER our blog. These guys will be sharing their interests and passion, showing you just how easy it is to get involved.
Siobhan Harris (@SiobhanHarris21)
Yasmine Lewis (@heyyas)
Mahla Conomos (@mahla_c)
So sit back, relax, and be inspired!
If you like what you see, hear and read, head on over to MTVMovement.com.au , check out the rest of the candidates, and keep up to date using the #MTVMovement hashtag. We’re in good hands!
You are likely to be one of two people on election day.
Both are equally as dangerous.
Every single one of those papers will tell you to vote 1 for their party on both papers, the Senate and House of Reps. They are asking you to elect their friends to keep them accountable, because they know they won’t be as harsh as their parents. In fact, they are hoping it will be a walk in the park.
It’s our job to make sure they are accountable to people like their parents instead. It’s how we make our vote count. We choose which party we want to govern the country, then we look out for them by choosing someone in the Senate that we think will keep them in check while they do it. They may not like it at first, but we do it because we care.
You’ll be happy to know caring doesn’t mean voting below the line.
Just pick a candidate (and party) that will scruitinise the proposals and decisions of the party you pick to govern. Don’t let them take the easy road and ‘Vote 1’ in both.
At some stage in your life, you’ve had a GREAT idea. Hell, it was a revolutionary idea. A ‘pull it off and you’ll be a hero’ type of idea.
Not quite what you expected. “And how do you expect to do that? Where will you get the money? Do you know how long that will take? Have you even thought about what your saying? I don’t think you understand how difficult that is. These things don’t just happen.” They didn’t stop until your idea had more holes in it than a golf course.
In the process of being sad, angry, frustrated etc. you had enough time to think about those holes and realised (begrudgingly) that they’re totally valid. It didn’t feel like it at the time but they poked holes because they care. They want you to succeed and will do everything in their power to stop you making a fool of yourself. We all have the ability to get caught up in our ideas. Our parents make the difference between truly GREAT ideas and this.
In parliament, you are the House of Reps. Your parents are the Senate. You need each other. You need them to hold you accountable. Even if it makes life a little difficult at the time, it’s for your own good.
When we vote, we need to make sure that happens. We need to make sure the senate are more like our parents and less like our friends. Because sometimes our friends will support us to remain friends, even if they think we’re destined for failure.
You can’t pick your parents, but later today we’ll show you how to pick people like them. Stay tuned!
Why is it so important that we, Gen Y, step up and take responsibility for our role in democracy? We are the most influential generation today, connected in every sense of the word, and the most likely to incite cultural change. So why not?