Yesterday saw the start of the HIV / AIDS Awareness Week. Here, in Cairns, we have volunteers on duty every day, distributing information and items (flyers, pens, bracelets, notepads, pins, ribbons, even shoe laces and bags with logos and emblems). People receive information, pick some objects, and make small donations if they wish. Yesterday I had a shift, together with some other volunteers, at the Sunday market stall near the Botanic Gardens. Here are some photos (first: Ian, Nae and I, second: Ben and Ian, third: Ian and Nae).
Yesterday morning, the head of the Australian Bureau of Statistics announced the results of the postal survey (plebiscite): the vast majority of Australians voted for legalising same-sex marriage – a historic social change. I’d like remind you that in 2004, the conservative government of Australia, led by John Howard, amended the law to specify that marriage is possible only between a man and a woman. This was contrary to the world trend of the movement for same-sex marriages and relevant legislation. In 2001, such a law was enacted in the Netherlands, in 2003 – in Belgium and some Canadian provinces, in 2004 – in virtually all Canadian provinces. In 2005, such a law was adopted as a national law in Canada, and Spain. These countries were joined in the following years by South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Denmark, Brazil, France, Uruguay, New Zealand, Luxembourg, the United States of America, Ireland, Brazil, Colombia, Finland, Malta, Germany and Taiwan. And also three parts of the United Kingdom (England, Scotland and Wales) and many states of Mexico.
The right hand of Howard, and later also the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, then as a minister post, and later on as head of government, aggressively rejected the idea of same-sex marriage. However, when Abbott’s position was under threat (and, fortunately for the country, he was overthrown only two years after his election for total incompetence), he said that if the conservative government was reelected, a plebiscite would be held on same-sex marriage. His successor, Malcolm Turnbull, who was pressured by such hardliners in the parliament, as Eric Abetz, Kevin Andrews, Cory Bernardi and Tony Abbott (who managed to retain his parliament seat), decided not to take any chances and organised a postal plebiscite, the results of which you already know. It was a humiliating and expensive procedure, which, however, proved once again the backwardness of these people. They had been told that such issues should resolved by free vote in the parliament, but they were not convinced. A nationwide poll was required for them to understand what the Australian people thought about it.
Yesterday, the bill on same-sex marriage was presented to the Senate for consideration. Good to note that Prime Minister Turnbull called on parliamentarians to pass the law before Christmas. Just a few weeks to go. After many years of procrastination and hassle, this is almost nothing. Victory is almost assured.
Yesterday, Australia was celebrating. Cairns was no exception. Representatives of the LGBT community and their allies gathered at the Centre of Contemporary Arts, including the premises of cafe Paradiso, to celebrate the plebiscite’s outcome. Here are a couple of pictures.
Today is the 100th anniversary of the bolshevik revolution in Russia, a tragic event which led to millions of deaths and deprivation of freedom, and (the irony of history) eventually to the dramatic collapse of the unsustainable regime and governance about 70 years later. Although there were achievements, some of them impressive, such as the Soviet space programme, universal and free medical care and education, and cheap housing, Russia nowadays is a much weaker country than before the revolution in 1917. The overall score is minus zero. In the two decades before the revolution, it was one of the fastest growing economies in the world. It was also becoming a more liberal and prosperous society, and, culturally, richer every day. However, such factors as the weak and ineffective czar, the world war, void of reason, growing revolutionary movement of irresponsible and ambitions conmen, gullibility of the population, including intelligentsia and military officers, and some other factors, triggered the tragic events 100 years ago. Hope such madness as the bolshevik (communist) revolution will never happen again in the life of Russia and its people, and they will have a normal, free, civilised and prosperous life with equal rights for all, including LGBT people. Russians do not need another Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Khrushchev or similar criminals.
No more wars and social experiments. No more utopias. I do hope things will get better for Russia and for the other former Soviet republics. In every respect.
And never forget the lesson of 1917.
During my recent trip to Hobart (the state of Tasmania), it was not just work for me, but also leisure – after work, of course. Early in the morning I had a walk to nice places – from 40 to 90 minutes, I went to work on foot, also through nice places, – add another 40 minutes to and from. During lunch, I also went on foot to a cafe or restaurant.
I took a long walk during the weekend between the two weeks of the conference. It was a visit to the Botanical Gardens on Saturday, where I go every year. I also had a Sunday tour to the Mount Field National Park with a visit to the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary and the summit of Mount Wellington.
Below is a selection of photos of my Sunday tour (October 22).
Recently, I worked as an interpreter at the 2-week Antarctic conference for Russian and Ukrainian delegations in Hobart.
There is no direct flight to Hobart from Cairns, and I flew through Sydney where I decided to spend a couple of days. On Saturday, October 14th, I had a tour to a small Sydney zoo, Featherdale Wildlife Park. I had heard lots of good things about it. My guide was Barry from the gay travel company Planet Dwellers. Thanks to him and the employees of the Wildlife Park I got interesting information about the park’s inhabitants: koalas, kangaroo, echidnas, Tasmanian devils, wombats, iguanas, dingoes, crocodile, cassowaries, eagles, penguins, etc. I attended the feeding of penguins, echidnas and a crocodile, and listened to some very good commentary. Then I had a cruise on the Parramatta river and the Sydney Harbour.
Barry organized the tour very well. We also discussed various LGBT topics. It turned out that we have several common gay acquaintances in Cairns and Sydney. It’s a small world!
Below is a selection of my zoo photos. By the way, Barry appears on the first one.
There remains a couple of days for Australians to take up the opportunity to vote at a postal plebiscite on same-sex marriage. All ballots must be received by the Australian Bureau of Statistics no later than 7 November. The overwhelming majority has already voted, and the others have a few more days – I hope they will use the opportunity to voice their opinion on such an important issue for this country.
And, of course, I hope they will put a tick or a cross in the Yes box. Below is a copy of the ballot paper. The results of the voting will be announced on November 15.