Dark times for Queensland.
A dark shadow of oppression is now hanging over our communities, something that is beginning to be reminiscent of the darkest days under former Queensland Premier Sir Joh.
In just the last few weeks Campbell Newman and the LNP are moving closer in their quest to repeal civil unions. Certificates approving new Civil Celebrants are now being delayed with no explanation or a straight answer regarding the fates of over the 400 couples who have registered their civil union. Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie is expected to make an announcement on the fate of civil unions in coming days.
Jessica Payne from Equal Love recently said on a proposed event to protest the LNP: “This is an attack on us all! A government with basically no accountability removing a legal right, with only homophobia as a justification is really a shape of things to come. Who will be next? Will it be the LGBTI health services? Will it be our rights to protest?”
Unfortunately, some of Jessica’s worst fears are coming true, as we wake this morning to the news that the Queensland Association for Healthy Communitie (QAHC) will be stripped of its funding by the new Queensland Government, with the Minister for Health Lawrence Springborg delivering the bad news in a blunt press release: “When it comes to health, unlike Labor, I refuse to throw good money after bad and I refuse to turn a blind eye to what are obviously ineffective campaigns at reducing HIV diagnosis rates.
“This clearly indicates that the campaigns and strategies, and the way those campaigns and strategies have been provided, is in need of urgent review and redirection.”
Springborg says he’ll immediately re-direct over $2.5 million in government grants that had previously been channelled through Queensland Association for Healthier Communities to conduct AIDS/HIV awareness and prevention strategies.
“Instead of this funding being administered by QAHC, which has published its intention to move the core of its activity away from AIDS/HIV to more general, political issues, it will be moved into the control of an expert panel a Ministerial Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS.”
Many now fear this sudden cut to QAHC spells an end to health promotion work with gay men, LGBT awareness training, drug and alcohol services and the imminent loss of 26 staff positions.
QAHC president Mark Morlein is today calling on the community for help. “We need your support now more than ever,” he reacts. ”This is matter of survival fo our organisation and the future of the LGBT community in Queensland. Any action in support of us that you can make would be appreciated. But you must act quickly.”
Healthy Communities began as the Queensland AIDS Council in 1984, and helps to prevent the spread of HIV and STIs by supporting the health of gay men and the wider LGBT community. QAHC has won international accolades last year with its rip&roll campaign (shown below), even after its posters were briefly removed from bus shelters following protests by The Australian Christian Lobby.
With our community facing a blatant attack by the new Queensland Government against not only our rights but our own LGBT organisations, many are wondering how they can help.
Here’s what you can do. Equal Love is holding an emergency rally on the 30th of May to not only protest the government’s threat to repeal civil unions, but the homophobic discrimination being faced by the LGBT community with the new Queensland Government. Full details of the event are on Facebook here.
People who have been supported by QAHC are also invited to share their stories online about how the organisation has helped you. Post pictures and video, and use the Twitter hashtag #SaveQAHC.
You can also contact the Health Minister Lawrence Springborg (tel: 3234 1191 email: firstname.lastname@example.org ) and Premier Campbell Newman (tel: 3224 4500 email: email@example.com ) and your local MP, asking for QAHC’s funding to be reinstated.
But most importantly, encourage your friends, family, colleagues and community members to take action. Now is not the time to stand idly by as this new government continues with their proposed actions.
Lily Tomlin once said: “I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody.”
Will you be somebody?