Showing posts with label Australia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Australia. Show all posts

March 21, 2017

Australia Abolishes ‘Gay Panic Defense'

Lawmakers in Queensland, Australia, have passed legislation that removes a controversial "gay panic" defense from the state's criminal code. 
The code previously enabled the measure to be used as a partial defense to murder if an unwanted sexual advance had been made toward the accused. 
It was most famously used in 2008 when 45-year-old Wayne Ruks was killed by two men, Jason Pearce and Richard Meerdink, who claimed Ruks made advances at one of them. 
Murder charges were reduced to manslaughter as a result, despite Ruks' family disputing any notion that he was gay at the time.  Queensland Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D'Ath said removing the defense had addressed an unacceptable inequality. 
"Queensland's criminal code must not be seen to condone violence against the gay community, or indeed any community," D'Ath said in a statement released Tuesday. 
"The passing of this legislation sends an important message that discrimination is not acceptable and that we value the LBGTI community." 
Ruks was found dead in the churchyard of Father Paul Kelly, a Catholic priest who subsequently led a campaign to have the law changed. 
"After five years of relentlessly campaigning for the gay panic defense for murder to be scrapped from the legal books in Queensland, I can today breathe a sigh of relief and accomplishment," Kelly said. 
Kelly started a petition that racked up 290,000 signatures and told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper in 2011 that the law was a “homophobic, demeaning, dangerous insult" to gay people. 
He added that it "allows killers to walk away with paltry sentences"  Wayne Ruks' mother, Joyce Kujala, said she had waited a long time for the change in the law. 
“It can't bring Wayne back, but it's some small justice, and it could save a lot of lives in future," Kujala said.

February 2, 2017

Trump Throws Old Friends by the Side Says ”Don’t Worry”

An impression: "I keep saying that soon we will have two friends left. One is the enemy and the other only cares about itself and is the friend that stays by you or others if it can borrow to buy stuff”  (Is this true?Feel free to comment below)

 Australian and American troops take a rest from the past fighting in Iraq

For the first time in decades, America’s oldest allies are questioning where Washington’s heart is.

This week, President Donald Trump and his deputies hit out at some of America’s closest friends, blasting a “dumb” refugee resettlement deal with Australia and accusing Japan and Germany of manipulating their currencies. Ties with Mexico have deteriorated to the point its government had to deny reports that Trump told President Enrique Pena Nieto he might send U.S. troops across the southern border.

“When you hear about the tough phone calls I have, don’t worry about it,” Trump said to an audience of religious and political leaders at the National Prayer Breakfast, a yearly event in Washington. “The world is in trouble -- but we’re going to straighten it out, ok? That’s what I do.”

The dilemma for officials globally is figuring out if Trump’s blunt style is simply a tactic to keep them off balance or the start of a move to tear up the rule book that has guided relations with the U.S. since World War II. In the mean time, allies have little choice but to prepare for the worst.

The latest attacks came against Australia and Japan, even with Trump’s new Pentagon chief in the region to offer assurances about the U.S.’s commitment to security ties. The White House described Trump’s hour-long conversation with Mexico’s leader as “lighthearted.”
“For those of us like Australia, Japan or Korea, who have been dependent on that continuity, we have got to start thinking about a situation where the U.S. is much more self interested, and more more capricious on what it might do,” said Nick Bisley, a professor of international relations at La Trobe University in Melbourne. “Countries in the region have got to sit down and say those old arrangements can’t last forever.”

Trump’s willingness to publicly attack America’s friends in Asia marks a sharp contrast from the Obama administration, which sought to build a united front against China’s military and economic clout. Trump instead has suggested Asian nations should pay more for U.S. security and pulled out of a 12-nation Pacific trade deal.

Earlier this week, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushed back on Trump’s accusations his country was gaming the foreign exchange market and hindering U.S. auto sales. Still, Abe has a bigger concern when he meets Trump on Feb. 10: Japan depends on the U.S. “nuclear umbrella” to protect it from China and North Korea.

“Dumb Deal”

On Thursday, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull found himself under fire. In a late-night tweet, Trump blasted a deal that involved the U.S. resettling refugees that are being held by Australia in offshore camps, many of them from the Middle East or South Asia.

“Do you believe it? The Obama administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!” Trump tweeted.

If the tweet wasn’t bad enough, earlier in the day Turnbull fielded questions on a Washington Post report that said Trump berated him in a Jan. 28 phone call. The president told Turnbull he had spoken to four other global leaders that day, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, and “this was the worst call by far,” the paper reported, citing unidentified U.S. officials.

In a radio interview on Thursday after Trump’s tweet, Turnbull said he still expects the deal will go ahead. He added he was “very disappointed” over the leak and said the call with Trump ended “courteously.”

“A lot of Australians will find this report deeply unsettling,” said John Blaxland, a senior fellow at the Australian National University’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre in Canberra. “Australia has invested in this relationship and has been a faithful partner, especially since the declaration of the global war on terror. Trump needs Australia to support its interests in the Asia-Pacific.”

No Consultation

One calming voice may be Defense Secretary James Mattis, who is visiting South Korea and Japan. In Seoul on Thursday he reaffirmed the U.S.’s commitment to defend South Korea against North Korea, according to a statement from the nation’s presidential office.

Still, given Trump’s unpredictability, even Mattis’s words may not help. On Thursday Trump was again busy on Twitter, warning Iran had been “put on notice” for testing ballistic missiles. “Iran was on its last legs and ready to collapse until the U.S. came along and gave it a life-line in the form of the Iran Deal: $150 billion,” Trump said.

Key tests for Trump in Asia will be whether he reaffirms that the mutual defense treaty with Japan applies to islands also claimed by China, and if he continues freedom-of-navigation operations in Asia’s waterways, according to Fumiaki Kubo, a professor at the University of Tokyo. 

“Even if Mr. Trump says something very positive, we may not be really reassured yet unless positive words are followed up by concrete action,” Kubo said. “There’s no advance consultation with allies in the region, so there are many things to be concerned about.”

One country that could benefit from a U.S. retrenchment is China. President Xi Jinping has fashioned himself as a champion of globalization in recent months, and sought to accelerate the passage of a regional trade agreement initiated by Southeast Asian nations.

Still, Beijing has a lot to lose if things go wrong. A trade war with Trump could worsen an economic slowdown in a politically sensitive year, with the Communist Party set to shift many top leaders.

As well, China is embroiled in a dispute with several Southeast Asian nations over the South China Sea, an area where it has reclaimed reefs and built military outposts. New Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has already pledged to challenge China over the waterway.

“China has no idea at the moment about how to deal with Trump and taking a cautious approach,” said Nicholas Thomas, an associate professor of Asian studies at City University of Hong Kong. “The one question that everyone is looking at in the region — and this goes to the web of security partnerships in Asia -- is what is going to happen between the U.S. and China over the South China Sea.”

David Tweed

January 30, 2017

(NYT) When in Australia Gangs Killed Gays (88) For The Hell of It

 Scott Johnson’s body was discovered at the bottom of this cliff. The original ruling of suicide has been overturned, but many questions remain. Credit Matthew Abbott for The New York Times

SYDNEY, Australia — On a December day in 1988, a teenager on a spearfishing expedition found a body at the bottom of one of the wild, honey-colored sandstone cliffs that line Sydney Harbor.

Naked, torn and battered by the rocks, the dead man was a promising American mathematician, Scott Johnson. His clothes were found at the top of the cliff in a neat pile with his digital watch, student ID and a $10 bill, folded in a small plastic sheath. There was no wallet, and no note.

The police concluded that Mr. Johnson, 27, had committed suicide, and a coroner agreed. Fatal leaps from the cliffs around Sydney into the fierce sea below were not uncommon, then or now.

But 28 years later, a new inquest into Mr. Johnson’s death has begun. His brother, a wealthy Boston tech entrepreneur, has pressed the Australian authorities for years to revisit the case, arguing that Mr. Johnson was murdered because he was gay and that the police failed to see it. 

During the 1980s and 1990s, the Australian authorities now say, gangs of teenagers in Sydney hunted gay men for sport, sometimes forcing them off the cliffs to their deaths. But the police, many of whom had a reputation for hostility toward gay men, often carried out perfunctory investigations that overlooked the possibility of homicide, former officials and police officers say.

Now the police in New South Wales, the state that includes Sydney, are reviewing the deaths of 88 men between 1976 and 2000 to determine whether they should be classified as anti-gay hate crimes.

About 30 of the cases remain unsolved, and the police have not said how many of the killings were tied to gangs. About a dozen victims were found dead at the bottom of cliffs or in the sea, the police say.

Scott Johnson in 1987. He was a “virtuoso” mathematician and a “brilliant but remarkably gentle and unassuming presence,” a colleague said.CreditSteve Johnson

The review and the inquest into Mr. Johnson’s death are casting light on a shocking chapter of Sydney’s history, one that some say has yet to be fully revealed.

“We can now see that predators were attacking gay men,” said Ted Pickering, who was the police minister for New South Wales in the late 1980s. “And they were doing it with the almost-certain knowledge that the police would not have gone after them. That was the police culture of the day.”

No new arrests have been made in connection with the killings since the review began in 2013, and the police declined to discuss the open investigations. In many of the cases under review, the police said, relevant evidence had not been collected at the time or has since been lost.

“While the review is a difficult task because we can’t rewrite history, we know it is important we do everything we can to ensure the best outcomes in the future,” said Tony Crandell, an acting assistant commissioner for the New South Wales Police Force.

But others have suggested that the review, which aims to determine which cases may involve bias but not to solve them, is not a sufficient response.

“It may be tempting for the police to concentrate on merely relabeling crimes rather than doing fresh detective work to solve them,” said Stephen Tomsen, a criminologist at Western Sydney University.

Sydney is a more tolerant city than it was decades ago, and critics say that police attitudes have changed considerably. Uniformed officers now march in Sydney’s annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade, which drew a quarter-million spectators last year and was attended for the first time by a prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

Scott Johnson’s body was discovered at the bottom of this cliff. The original ruling of suicide has been overturned, but many questions remain. Credit Matthew Abbott for The New York Times
But if the laws were changing slowly in the 1980s — New South Wales decriminalized sex between men only in 1984 — society, including the police, was even slower to do so.

“The police culture in Australia up to the early 1990s was hostile to gay men,” Michael Kirby, a retired High Court justice who served during that period, wrote in an email. “They were basically considered antisocial, low-level criminals and lowlife types who did disgusting things and should not be surprised that they got injured and even killed.”

Justice Kirby, who is gay, added, “I do not believe that this extended to a general conspiracy to back off professional investigations of murder.” Rather, he said, there was “an attitude of complacency and indifference. Certainly not the usual motivation of energy to track down the murderers.”

Researchers who have studied the matter say the gangs were loose alliances of young men, teenage boys and sometimes girls who looked for victims to harass and assault at Sydney’s so-called gay beats — places where gay men were known to meet, including secluded spots on the cliffs. The gang members called it “poofter bashing.”

“There was a series of gangs,” said Stephen Page, a former New South Wales detective who reopened some of the cases years later. “They wouldn’t just hit one beat, they’d be aware of all of them.”

Few victims would have gone to the police, Professor Tomsen said. Most gay men were closeted, and many would have feared being assaulted by the police themselves. After the city’s first gay Mardi Gras parade was broken up by the police in 1978, some marchers were beaten in their jail cells.

“Any gay who was attacked would be seen as a foolish risk-taker if they reported that attack to police,” Professor Tomsen said.

Still, there were some arrests and prosecutions. In 1990, a Thai man was attacked with a hammer at the top of a cliff and fell off the edge. Three teenagers were arrested and convicted of murder.
According to a report by Sue Thompson, a former state-appointed liaison between the New South Wales police and gays, one of the assailants told the police, “The easiest thing with a cliff is just herding them over the edge.”

The idea that the killing was part of a pattern was not seriously pursued until years later. In 2000, Mr. Page, spurred by letters from a grieving mother, reopened the case of Ross Warren, a 25-year-old television news anchor who disappeared in 1989.

Mr. Warren’s body was never found, though his car keys were discovered in a rock ledge. The police concluded that he had accidentally fallen into the harbor. But Mr. Page found the original investigation had been cursory at best.

“There was no crime scene, no evidence, and no witnesses to Ross Warren’s disappearance,” he said.

Mr. Page began looking into similar cases. In 2005, an inquest concluded that Mr. Warren had been murdered, another man had been pushed or thrown from a cliff, and there was a strong possibility that a third man had been, too.

“This was a grossly inadequate and shameful investigation,” Magistrate Jacqueline Milledge, a deputy state coroner, said of the police handling of Mr. Warren’s death. 

Scott Johnson in 1987. He was a “virtuoso” mathematician and a “brilliant but remarkably gentle and unassuming presence,” a colleague said. Credit Steve Johnson
In all three cases, she said, the police had failed to account for the possibility of homicide, even though men attacked in the same area who did go to the police had “told of hearing their assailants threatening to throw them off the cliff face.” The three killings remain unsolved.

When Steve Johnson learned that such cases were being revisited in Sydney, he felt he finally had a possible explanation for his younger brother’s death. Mr. Johnson had looked out for Scott since childhood, when their parents divorced, and he considered suicide impossible.

“This was my brother, the person I was closest to, my soul mate,” Mr. Johnson, 57, said in December, outside the Sydney courtroom where the inquest began.

Scott Johnson had moved to Australia to be with his partner and was pursuing his doctorate at Australian National University in Canberra. He was a “virtuoso” mathematician, a “brilliant but remarkably gentle and unassuming presence,” according to Richard Zeckhauser, a Harvard economist who once wrote a paper with him.

Scott Johnson had applied for permanent residency, and his professional prospects were good.

“He would have been a first-round draft pick for any university in any part of the world,” his brother said. “He had no reason to be stressed or unhappy.”

The day he disappeared, Scott Johnson told his Ph.D. supervisor, Ross Street of Macquarie University in Sydney, that he’d had a breakthrough on a vexing problem that was crucial to his dissertation.

“It sounded like he had the whole thing in his head,” Professor Street said at the December inquest. “He was happy about it. I was happy about it.”

Today, evidence of what happened to Mr. Johnson, as in many of these cases, is scant. He was found below a gay hangout, but the local police officer who responded to the call testified that he had not known that at the time.

The police found no signs of a struggle at the cliff top, but there had been a storm that could have washed such evidence away. The site was never secured as a crime scene.

In the years after Mr. Johnson’s death, his brother became wealthy in the 1990s tech boom, selling a company that developed compression technology for delivering sound and video over the internet to America Online.

After reading about the 2005 inquest on the Sydney cliff deaths, Steve Johnson began devoting some of his resources to finding out what had happened to his brother. He hired an investigative journalist, Daniel Glick, to go to Australia to dig up court records and other documents. And he assembled an array of high-powered lawyers — his legal team includes a former Massachusetts attorney general, Martha Coakley, who said her firm took the case pro bono — to argue for reopening the case.

In 2012, a new inquest overturned the original finding of suicide. But the coroner reached no conclusion about how Mr. Johnson had died, saying that while anti-gay violence was a possibility, so was an accidental fall.

When the current inquest resumes in June, it will hear new evidence, the coroner’s office has said.

Whatever the result, Steve Johnson and others hope it will spur further investigations of these cases.

“There was clearly a pattern to these deaths,” said Margaret Sheil, whose brother Peter was found dead at the base of a cliff in 1983. “Today, it is extraordinary to think that we would not have had an open discussion about what happened. And if we had, it might have prevented it happening to someone else.”


January 23, 2017

In Melboume Man Goes Crazy Stabbing His Gay Brother, Ran Over Others

 Angelo, critically injured after stabbing on the face

A man who allegedly killed five people after driving his car into a crowd reportedly stabbed his brother ‘for being gay’ before the rampage began.

Dimitrious Gargasoulas’s mum, Emily Gargasoulas, said her son knifed his brother Angelo in the face because of his sexuality.
‘Jimmy keeps saying to me, I’m going to kill all gays and p**fters and lesbians,’ she said.

 ‘He’s not the Jimmy I used to know from years back. I don’t want to be known that I’m the mother.’
Angelo Gargasoulas was critically injured and is still in hospital.
The incident led to his brother being chased by police but they called off the pursuit just before the crash in Bourke Street because of the suspect’s alleged dangerous driving.

visitors lay flowers at a floral tribute on Bourke street in Melbourne on January 22, 2017, after a man went on a rampage in a car. A three-month-old baby has become the fifth victim of a deadly car rampage in Australia's second-largest city that left four others fighting for their lives and dozens injured. / AFP PHOTO / Saeed KHANSAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images
Visitors lay flowers at a floral tribute on Bourke street in Melbourne (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)

A three-month-old boy was the fifth person to die after Gargasoulas allegedly drove a car through a lunch-time crowd in Melbourne on Friday.
The newborn died on Saturday and four other people remain in a critical condition in hospital. 

Melbourne driver who killed four was out on bail
Suspect Dimitrious Gargasoulas (Picture: Dimitrious Gargasoulas/Facebook)

A ten-year-old girl, 25-year-old man and a 32-year-old woman died at the scene. A 33-year-old man died in hospital on Friday night.
In total 37 people received treatment as a result of the incident, including suspect Gargasoulas.
Police hope to interview and charge Gargasoulas today.

January 9, 2017

As He Grew Up Gay in Australia,The Catholic Church was a Heaven

This March, Australian Christians will be able to join a chorus of Catholics, Baptists and beyond asking forgiveness for centuries worth of anti-LGBTQI sins – among those sins, pushing the idea that "non-heterosexual orientations should be treated, healed or changed".
The landmark "sorry" is the effort of a new ecumenical group called Equal Voices, which, as reported by Buzzfeed, ultimately aims to present the apology to Parliament. The group says its mission is to ensure that the church is one "which acknowledges, respects and utilises the gifts of all, regardless of sex, sexuality or gender". Six months after our progressive pontiff told reporters that Catholics should say sorry to gay people, Australians of faith are listening. 
On one level, this is a surprise on the level of "somebody-moved-the-stone!". The church, so often an immovable wall in the fight for same-sex marriage and other rights, is apologising to us? This is, after all, the same coalition of religions that includes George Pell, the anti-Safe Schools Salvos and the Australian Christian Lobby.

And yet the apology comes as no surprise to me. The Christians in my life – those in the pews who don't make, nor seek, headlines – have been some of the most supportive people I've known. Of course they want to say sorry: it's the Christian thing to do.

My parents sent my brothers and me to Catholic schools as part of a common Australian middle-class compromise. They didn't want us going to the local public school, but couldn't afford private school, so they sent us to an institution named for a girl who was burned at the stake two millennia ago. There, we would wear uniforms we didn't like and say prayers we didn't believe in, but we would also be able to learn our times tables in a disciplined environment.

I did well there. I got straight As, was elected captain of both primary and high school, completed my sacraments and often led prayers at assembly and over the PA system. The family never went to church on weekends, but from Monday to Friday I was an evangelistic little Tracy Flick, biro in hand and halo on head.

I was also very gay. I didn't realise this at the time – I was quite late to my own coming-out party – but I already ticked all of the cliche boxes: terrible at footy, excellent at knowing the lyrics to Les Mis songs; Friday nights at an arthouse cinema, Sunday mornings at drama class. And the voice? Julian Clary could have given a more convincing straight-man reading of the Our Father. If my teachers had eyes and ears, they knew I was different. And these same teachers – not members of the clergy, but many of them laypeople of deep faith – were profoundly nurturing of that difference.

One of my earliest memories of school is from year two, in rehearsals for a class show for the weekly assembly. The part called for me to address the crowd, and I mumbled the line quietly in rehearsal, eyes fixed on my polished black Clarks. Miss White was having none of it. She pulled me aside to ask what was wrong. When I told her that I hated my voice, she told me firmly it was a gift not to sound like anyone else. And then she gave me a piece of advice I still use when speaking publicly: "Find a clock on the back wall, and stare at it." 

My school life was peppered with moments like this. Teachers who encouraged me into extracurricular activities for which my differences were an advantage.

And I was always protected. I was in the public speaking team in high school, and in one of my first years there, was asked to deliver a speech to the school. It was six minutes of my not-yet-broken voice from the lectern and jeers from the crowd. By the end, I was pretty shaken up. No teacher ever spoke to me about the incident, as Miss White had done years before, but I later found out someone had spoken to the rest of the year group. I am not sure what was said, but I was never jeered again. ln year 12, when I competed in a national public speaking competition, a chunk of the guys from my year showed up to cheer me on raucously.

Now I am an atheist when things are going well in my life, an agnostic when they aren't, and temporarily Catholic when I have to get up for the Eucharist at a wedding. But I've always liked core Christian values, particularly the simple "golden rule" I was taught back in kindy: "Treat others the way you like to be treated."

I know it's not everyone's story – and I know others whose time at religious schools was far less rosy – but I was able to grow up different and safe and proud because the people around me also subscribed to that idea.

I don't see much of that sentiment when I scan the statements of church leadership when it comes to LGBTQI issues today. But the Equal Voices apology is a reminder of the kinds of Christians who helped shape me growing up. These people put into quiet practice so much of what is beautiful about the religion, and did very little preaching as they went.

As some of them get ready to say sorry this March, I’d like to take a moment to say thank you.

Joel Meares is a Fairfax Media columnist

January 6, 2017

Australian Gay Dad Thrown Off Bridge on New Years’

 Maioha Tokotaua, 33, claims husband Joth Wilson, 25, on right pictured, 
was thrown from a bridge for being gay and rejected another man’s advances. 
Picture: Facebook

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A GAY man found underneath a bridge with horrific injuries was thrown off it in a deliberate attack, his partner has claimed.

The Sun reports that Joth Wilson, 25, was discovered under a train bridge in the early hours of New Year’s Day in Gladstone, Queensland, Australia.

The native Kiwi was left with a broken neck, back, four broken ribs, a brain hemorrhage, a severed spinal cord and shocking burns over almost half his body.
He is currently on life support at an unnamed Brisbane hospital after plummeting 8 metros from the walkway and is unlikely to ever walk again.

Wilson’s husband Maioha Tokotaua, 33, has now revealed he thinks his partner was deliberately targeted by someone he knew.
 He told of his belief that Mr Wilson was thrown from the bridge by a man with a wife and kids who he had previously knocked back.
“There were these guys who had been harassing us for some time after one of them, who is married with children, made an advance that Joth rejected,” Mr Tokotaua said. “There’s no money involved, no drugs, no debt — there’s just no motive for the attack other than they were intimidated that we might tell their families.”
Mr Tokotaua found his husband unconscious after he popped out just before midnight on New Year’s Eve but didn’t return.

Mr Wilson went to the shop to buy one last pack of cigarettes so the pair could have a final smoke before quitting for the New Year.

When he failed to come back from what should have been a short trip, Mr Tokotaua became worried and went looking for him.

After two hours of searching the streets, he was shocked to find his “mangled” partner at 2am lying motionless beneath the bridge.

Mr Tokotaua told how his wallet and hat were missing, suggesting to him that Mr Wilson had not fallen or tried to kill himself.

Maioha Tokotaua, 33, claims husband Joth Wilson, 25, was thrown from a bridge after rejecting a married man’s advances.
He also claimed burns to his partner’s face and body — which cops said were likely caused by falling onto electrical wires above the train track — came from something more sinister.

He said he believed at least some of them came from some kind of flammable liquid which had been poured onto him before setting him alight.
“It was a gay hate crime,” Mr Tokotaua said.
Police have raised questions about whether or not it was a hate crime, describing the incident as a “fall”.

Transcripts, Tom MichaelThe Sun

December 5, 2016

’Tyrone Cried Before his Suicide Afraid of Going Back to School’ A friend Confirmed

 Tyrone Unsworth was a  happy kid inside the home. Loved to dress up and make others laugh

A gay teenager broke down in tears the day before his suicide, telling a friend he was afraid of returning to school.
Gypsie-Lee Edwards Kennard told 7.30 she was on a fishing trip with Tyrone Unsworth when he revealed the extent of the homophobic taunts he was facing from other students.
"He was an absolute mess, crying his eyes out and telling me everyone wants him dead and I said, 'Tyrone, what do you mean everyone wants you dead?'," Ms Edwards Kennard told 7.30.
"He said, 'The kids at school keep telling me to go kill myself', and I was obviously gobsmacked.
"[The other students] did call him nasty names, like faggot and fairy.
"He loved girly things, he's chosen dresses for me and his mum to wear, he's asked to use makeup.
"Kids obviously thought because he's like that he could be a target for their bullying."

If you or anyone you know needs help:

Ms Edwards Kennard said she pleaded with him to seek help from his teachers at Brisbane's Aspley State High School.
"I said, 'You need to speak to someone [at the school]' and he said, 'They don't care'," she said.
"He just felt like no-one wanted him around and he didn't belong.
“It's really hard to hear that from a child that's only 13 years old." ‘This kid picked up a fence paling and hit him from behind' One month ago Tyrone was in a fight with another student outside of school hours that left him hospitalised.
Queensland Police is investigating the assault.
"A kid and him, they fight a lot, this kid picked up a fence paling and hit him from behind and knocked him out and broke Tyrone's jaw," Ms Edwards Kennard said.
 His grandmother Twiggy Jones said the
 Tyrone with Mom
assault had a major impact on Tyrone.
"He was very upset and sad and he didn't want to go to school," she said.
"We tried to force him but he just kept saying, 'No, I don't want to go back to school.'"
Aspley State High School has admitted it knew about the assault but said it had no idea homophobic bullying was occurring, something Tyrone's family disputes.
Principal Jacquita Miller declined to be interviewed by 7.30, but in a statement Education Queensland said:
"Tyrone was absent from school following the incident and the school attempted to make contact with the family regularly," the statement said.
"The school has the best interests of the family and school community at heart in handling this matter."
Tyrone's family and friends have called for change before more young people die by suicide.
Ms Edwards Kennard said she wished Tyrone had experienced a supportive environment that allowed him to open up.
"I wish that he could have expressed the feelings that he had and I don't know why he couldn't, and this one time that he did to me, afterwards he had to pretend everything was fine," she said.

 On Sunday hundreds of people gathered in Brisbane to remember Tyrone, with people asked to dress in bright colours, something he loved.

Tyrone's mother, Amanda, was due to speak but cancelled due to her ongoing grief.
Speakers at the rally called for the controversial Safe Schools program to be made mandatory to prevent bullying of queer students.
"I had a gay daughter who, in her mid-20s, committed suicide," William, a man in the crowd, told 7.30.
"She was bullied and vilified from the beginning of school because she was different.
"It shouldn't happen, we should have Safe Schools in all schools.
"We need to protect our kids from bullying."
Gay university student Christopher Hanson spoke about how he wished Safe Schools was available for him, who as a teenager hid his sexuality and struggled with depression.
"When I was in high school and I suffered from poor mental health," he told the rally.
"Safe Schools hadn't yet come into existence and there wasn't really anything like it in its place but I wish there had been.
"Instead I had to find support for myself."
Mr Hanson's said his school made the situation worse by providing sex education that ignored his sexuality.
"Sex education throughout all of my schooling essentially pretended that any kind of sexual or gender diversity didn't exist," he said.

                      'Schools want to provide education about sexuality'

                                                                                 Many queer young people in Brisbane, like Mr Hanson, turn to the organisation Open Doors for support. General manager Pam Barker said most of their clients had experienced bullying.
"Taunting, name calling, hitting, kicking, spitting, telling of stories and spreading of rumours [is common]," she told 7.30.
Ms Barker said many schools want to provide education about sexuality, but remain afraid of discussing it properly.
"They're scared that their children will turn gay, their children will become transgender, that we're teaching something outside of religious beliefs," she said.
“Parents may backlash and get upset about it and they want us to tell the students about being sexually diverse or gender diverse but [they say], 'Don't tell them that much or don't say this or don't mention homosexuality or don't mention transgender'."

November 29, 2016

Australian Boy 13, Takes His Own Life Due to Bullying

  Tyrone Unsworth with his mom

The bullying started when Tyrone Unsworth was just beginning to understand he was gay. (Warning: Some readers may find some language in this article offensive.)
He ignored the taunts as best he could. His favorite saying was "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me".

But a month ago, Tyrone was involved in a violent clash - allegedly with another student - outside school. According to his mother, Tyrone required surgery after being hit in the jaw with a fence paling. The attack left him afraid to return to school.

Then last Tuesday, Tyrone took his own life. He was 13.

Mother’s vow to help others

Amanda Unsworth said her son, a boy with bright blue eyes who dreamed of becoming a vet or a fashion designer, had been bullied about his sexuality for years.
Classmates at his high school in Brisbane, Australia, called him "fairy", "gay boy" and "faggot".
"I feel like these people who were bullying Tyrone are the cause of why he is not here any more," she told the Courier-Mail newspaper. “They pushed him to the edge."

Aspley State High School principal Jacquinta Miller said no claims of bullying had been made.
"Neither the student nor his family ever came to us to say there was a problem of any kind," she said in a statement. “If they did, we absolutely would have stepped in."

On Friday, Ms Unsworth posted to Facebook an image of herself holding a newspaper story showing Tyrone's face and the headline "bullied to death".
"We Love and Miss you so much Tyrone," she wrote.
“We will stand up and fight to get as much awareness help and support for others out there, SAY NO TO BULLYING."

‘Safe Schools' debate

Tyrone's story has ignited passionate debate since it was first reported and widely shared on Friday.
Much discussion surrounded the merits of a controversial Australian education program me, Safe Schools, that aims to stop LGBT bullying in schools.

According to its website, Safe Schools is designed to create “safe and supportive school environments for same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse people by reducing homophobic and transphobic bullying and discrimination in schools".

In March, the Australian government made sweeping changes to the program me after Christian groups and conservative MPs said it raised sexual issues that were inappropriate for teenagers and young children.

One Safe Schools opponent, Queensland MP George Christensen, at the time said the programme had been "gutted of all its bad content".
However, advocacy groups have maintained it should be expanded, pointing out the suicide rate among same-sex attracted youths remains a cause for concern.

According to depression awareness group Beyond Blue, young LGBT Australians are six times more likely to take their own lives than their peers. Bullying and violence increase the risk of self-harm, it said.

‘Real lives are affected'

Writing in The Monthly in response to the tragedy, Sean Kelly said even a “glancing acquaintance with common sense" would show that children are influenced by the environments adults create for them.

"Too often we forget that real lives are affected by political arguments," he said.
The Courier-Mail’s Lauren Martyn-Jones wrote that Tyrone's death was a reminder that homophobia can have tragic consequences.

“Tyrone Unsworth is just the sort of kid the Safe Schools programme was established to support, before it became mired in controversy and ended up as a whipping post for the right-wing, anti-PC brigade," she said.

In the Guardian, Dameyon Bonson wrote an opinion piece entitled: "I am Indigenous. I am gay. Unlike Tyrone Unsworth, I survived."
“We need to understand his life experience, and how political discourse may have challenged his hope," he said.

September 20, 2016

Gay Dad Answers to MP’s Outrage at Age of Consent Lowered for Teen Boys

Australian Conservative MP George Christensen was outraged last week when Queensland lowered the age of consent for anal sex, suggesting the move would lead to16-year-old boys being “preyed upon and groomed” by 50-year-old men.

Australian Conservative MP George Christensen was outraged last week when Queensland lowered the age of consent for anal sex, suggesting the move would lead to16-year-old boys being "preyed upon and groomed" by 50-year-old men.

It prompted one of his constituents and long-time party supporters, 71-year-old Peter Roberts, who has a gay son, to write this reply that has started going viral on Twitter.

Mary Roberts:

A few Anzac years ago you bought me a beer, as a 20 plus
veteran with two tours of Vienam. If you did it now I would tip the bloody thing
over your head. The typical homophobic, they must be pedophiles. So it is
alright for old men like me to try and find a younger women but not a Gay man.
I have a GAT SON who Iam so proud of what he has  achieved in his life. His
condition, or what you want to call it, came from my fathers ancestry so I 
have passed it on to him. He should have the same right as I have to marry, to
adopt if he and his partner wants to and not have clowns like you who live in
the past helping run this country and make decision for us and him. If you
decide to come to the Reef Gateway hotel at Cannonvale for an anzac day
please ask for me. 18201 Warrant Officer Second Class Peter Roberts. I have
hacked my wives Facebook for this as she probably would be harsher.

Dale Robets

My dad is a Nats supporter in Dawson - last night he wrote this on George Christensen's page

It reads:

A few Anzac years ago you bought me a beer, as a 20 plus veteran with two tours of Vietnam. if you did it now I would tip the bloody thing over your head. The typical homophobic, they must be pedophiles. So it is alright for old men like me to try and find a younger women but not a Gay man. I have a GAY SON who I am so proud of what he has achieved in his life. His condition, or what you want to call it, came from my Fathers ancestor,y so I have passed it on to him. he should have the same rights as I have to Marry, to adopt if he and his partner wants to and not have clowns like you who live in the past helping to run this country and make decision for us and him. If you decide to come to the Reef Gateway Hotel at Cannonvale for an Anzac Day please ask for me. 18201 Warrant Officer Second Class Peter Roberts. I have hacked my wifes facebook for this as she probably would be harsher.

Peter’s son Dale told BuzzFeed News that his Dad saw the Facebook post as a “direct attack on myself and our family”.

Peter's son Dale told BuzzFeed News that his Dad saw the Facebook post as a "direct attack on myself and our family".
“Dad is by no means public with his politics. And definitely not on social media. He’s 71 and doesn’t have his own account,” said Dale.
“He’s very quietly supportive of me (he met my partner for first time recently at mum and dad’s 40th wedding anniversary), I think he’s just frustrated that we don’t have the same rights and opportunities he does.”

Dale said growing up gay in Christensen’s north Queensland electorate of Dawson was tough for him and his family, and the politician’s comments “comparing gay men to pedophiles” doesn’t help.

Dale said growing up gay in Christensen's north Queensland electorate of Dawson was tough for him and his family, and the politician's comments "comparing gay men to pedophiles" doesn't help.
“Growing up and knowing other gay people in his electorate I know how damaging his comments can be, not just for LGBT people but also their families as well,” he said.
Dale said the other thing that frustrates his dad is Australia dragging its feet on marriage equality.
“I think dad’s post and the reason it’s gone off is because people can relate to the frustration with it all, marriage equality can happen immediately. 
“Let’s get it done and treat all Australian people and families the same.”
Mark Di Stefano is a political editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.
Contact Mark Di Stefano at

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