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

May 14, 2020

Finally An Arrest on The Murder of A Gay Student, Scott Johnson (1988) in Australia

Australian police have charged a man with the decades-old murder of a gay US student in Sydney.
The body of Scott Johnson, 27, was found at the bottom of beach cliffs in 1988. Police ruled it a suicide.
However, later inquiries concluded he had been killed in a hate crime. This also drew attention to other cases of homophobic killings around Sydney's beaches in the 1980s.
Scott Price, 49, was arrested at his Sydney home on Tuesday.
He was refused bail and will face a court on Wednesday.

Detectives escort man arrested in Sydney over 1988 murder of US student Scott JohnsonImage copyrightNSW POLICE
Image captionPolice arrested Scott Price after a lengthy investigation

The New South Wales police chief said it was a "career highlight" to call Scott Johnson's brother, Steve, who lives in the US, to inform him of the arrest. 
The police force has previously apologised to the family for not investigating the case properly in the 1980s and failing to protect the gay community.
"While we have a long way to go in the legal process, it must be acknowledged that if it wasn't for the determination of the Johnson family... we wouldn't be where we are today," Commissioner Mick Fuller said.

'He needed me to do this'

Scott, a gifted University of Cambridge maths student, had moved from the US to Sydney to be with his partner in 1986.
He had been close to completing his PhD when he was found dead at the bottom of the North Head cliffs in Manly.
His brother Steve campaigned for decades for the case to be re-investigated. He told the BBC in 2018 it was "inconceivable" that his brother had jumped off a cliff. 
"This is a very emotional day," he said in a video message on Tuesday.
"He was my best friend and he really needed me to do this."

Steve JohnsonImage copyrightNSW POLICE
Image captionSteve Johnson said the arrest was "great news" after 32 years of fighting for answers

Family petitions sparked coroner investigations in 2012 and 2015 which both recommended police reopen the case.
However no action was taken until a third inquiry in 2017 where the coroner found Scott had died as a result of a gay hate crime. Police offered a A$1m (£570,000; $645,000) cash reward in 2018 for information about the case.
Two months ago the family doubled the reward to A$2m.
It's now estimated up to 80 gay men were murdered by homophobic gangs in and around Sydney in the late 1980s - with many pushed off cliffs.
Mr Johnson said he hoped the arrest "opens the door" for others to receive justice.
"I hope the family and friends of the other dozens of gay men who lost their lives find solace in what's happened today," he said.

March 27, 2020

Nurses in Australia Plea To Stop The Violence for Stealing Masks and Sanitizers

Nurses and midwives in Australia say they've had to take extraordinary measures to stop people from stealing personal protective equipment, such as sanitizer and masks, and that some of them have even become targets of violence.
In a statement on its website, the New South Wales Nurses & Midwives' Association issued a plea to the community as the number of novel coronavirus cases in the country exceeded 2,800, with eight deaths, as of Thursday morning. 
"Please do not treat nurses, midwives and other health workers like they are infectious," the union said, adding bold text for emphasis. "These trained professionals should be respected and must not be abused, spat on or assaulted as they move through our communities, to and from their workplaces."
The message comes Thursday as police in New South Wales issued an appeal for information in an incident in which a woman wearing a nursing uniform was approached by another woman, who allegedly coughed on her, verbally abused her and then punched her in the face, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
In addition, the union said, there had been many instances "where community members have been stealing bottles of hand sanitiser, face masks and other vital resources from hospital wards, leaving nurses and other hospital staff exposed." 
Most hospitals in the state "have had to start cable-tying or using chains so the bottles [of hand sanitizer] aren't going missing from wards," a spokeswoman for the union was quoted by the Herald as saying, "but we are hearing some instances of pallets going missing from deliveries."
The newspaper reports that these incidents include the theft of an entire cart of personal protective equipment at Westmead Hospital in a suburb of Sydney and another in which a pallet of hand sanitizer was intercepted as it was being delivered to a hospital.
Earlier this week, as cases began to spike, Australia's government orderednonessential services and businesses — including pubs, clubs, gyms, movie houses and places of worship — to shut down.

March 14, 2020

The Police Say in Sydney They Might Have A Suspect On The Murder of Gay 31 Y.O. Scott Johnson

Image result for scott johnson, sydney
 One $ MIllion Dollar Reward $

I want to publish this posting again. Ive seen a movie made on this murder and I have been posting on it as soon as I heard something from Austrralia on the 0ver 10 years I have been posting on this blog.. MY first posting was showing the cliff in Sydney in which gays felt the privacy and liberty to put on their briefs or even naked go down to the beach and sun in the afternoon sun. They did the same on top of the hil. There you had some cruising because you had grass and sand, which somehow turn many of us I remember my days in Ft. Laudedale on the Hollywood beach. The last time I went they had gunpacking park police everywhere and they were not shy to say your shorts were too short. 

This was 2002. After 9/11. What I could not figure out is why Park police had a saying how you lay in private by the beach. After 9/11 they gave them the same powers as police. This was one of the decission that Mayor Rudy Giulliani, now a law braker with Trump himself. Nudity is one thing but having skimpy shorts? Iam sorry there was this guy that turns your head around and you know you do his but then loose track.  He called while I was in the moving truck towards New York City. He should have called before, I didn't call afraid to turn him down on a get together call. I wa so bussy getting my move together, it was not a simple thing but I need a book for that. May be if he called I could explain.  I lost coverage in NY and had to switch from ATT which I loved in Fl., to another carrier. I lost most of my list of calls and I lost his and he lost mine. That is life! But is one of those things you wish you could have done better.

These are things you do when you are single and I nor Steve Johnson deserve to be beaten up by the police or friends of the police because we are not straight. We do nothing different from the straight world but our world is spot-lighted as people that deserve death. 
Iam glad the family have stayed on this and now the police say they are working on it , no a suicide as reported, And might have one suspect. Actually it took more than one person to hide this murder. The police and the Australian media Particularly in Sydney are culpable of this.

Adam Gonzalez, Publisher

Homicide detectives are a step closer to solving the 1988 suspected gay-hate killing of Scott Johnson, with the chief police investigator confirming the search was now focused on one individual.

Mr Johnson's naked body was found at the base of a cliff near North Head on Sydney's northern beaches in December 1988.

Steve Johnson, left, and Detective Chief Inspector Peter Yeomans in 2018 on the cliff at North Head, the site of Scott Johnson's death.
Steve Johnson, left, and Detective Chief Inspector Peter Yeomans in 2018 on the cliff at North Head, the site of Scott Johnson's death.
 Steve Johnson, left, and Detective Chief Inspector Peter Yeomans in 2018 on the cliff at North Head, the site of Scott Johnson's death.CREDIT:JESSICA HROMAS

Police initially concluded the 31-year-old US mathematician had died by suicide, but a 2017 coronial inquest found he had most likely been the victim of a "gay-hate attack".

More than 30 years after the first bungled police investigation into Mr Johnson's death, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Yeomans has confirmed the investigation had narrowed on a "particular individual". 

The last family photo of Scott Johnson.
Add caption

The last family photo of Scott Johnson.CREDIT:NSW POLICE

It comes after the NSW government raised a $100,000 reward for information to $1 million in 2018. The amount was then increased to $2 million on Tuesday when Mr Johnson's brother Steve agreed to match it.

"Since the reward was increased in December 2018, we have received an incredible amount of information from the community ... [and] we identified and revisited information relating to people who were known to have a specific bias around the time of Scott’s death," Chief Inspector Yeomans said.

He added that "there may have been bragging" about the events surrounding Mr Johnson's death.

"This has led us to some very specific lines of inquiry, with our current focus on a particular individual."

After campaigning for more than 30 years for justice after his brother's alleged murder, Steve Johnson said it was a "revelation". 
"This is the first time they have ever said that. It was very emotional, to tell you the truth," he said.

"To go for so long with an intransigent police force, totally uninterested in investigating my brother's death as a homicide, to a team clearly dedicated to solving it. And then to learn they are this close to solving it ... it leaves me hopeful and emotional."

An initial investigation in 1988 by the Manly Local Area Command found no suggestion of foul play in regard to Mr Johnson's death, before an inquest in 1989 determined that he had died by suicide.

On Tuesday, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said the original investigation was a reflection of "broken" community attitudes at the time when homosexuals were wrongly seen as "second-class citizens". 

After 30 years of waiting, NSW police are pursuing justice for my brother
"We're not proud of our history," Commissioner Fuller said of a number of police investigations linked to suspicious deaths in Sydney between 1976 and 2000, a third of which have since been found to have resulted from suspected or confirmed gay-hate bias.

Steve Johnson said it first became clear in February that investigators were making progress, although at the time he had "no idea they were focused on a certain person of interest."

"I asked what I could do to help ... that's when I proposed that I be the one to raise the reward to $2 million. I thought it was important to do that right now because they seemed to be on the brink of a breakthrough, so I thought I could give it one big push," he said.

"In my phone calls with DCI Yeomans over the last two months they became progressively more hopeful. These calls used to end with, 'Please don't get your hopes up.' They've stopped telling me that.

"Police are serious about solving this case. I would urge anyone with more information to please call Crime Stoppers."

 By Lucy Cormack on Sydney Morning Herald

March 10, 2020

Australia in 1988 Police said Suicide Various Coroner Findings The American Was Beaten and Thrown Down Clift

A $2 million reward is now on offer for information about the 1988 suspected gay-hate killing of Scott Johnson after his brother matched the reward announced by the NSW government in 2018.

It is the first time a victim's family has joined a police investigation with such an amount.

 Last Piture His Family had of Scott

Scott Johnson's death was determined in a third coronial inquest to have been the result of a gay-hate crime.
Mr Johnson's naked body was found at the base of a cliff near North Head on Sydney's northern beaches more than 30 years ago. His clothes were found neatly folded on the cliff top.

An extraordinary third coronial inquest into his death in 2017 found the young American mathematician died as a result of a gay-hate crime when he fell onto rocks in December 1988. It prompted a renewed investigation into his death alongside a $100,000 reward for information, a figure that was later increased tenfold.

On Monday, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller joined Mr Johnson's brother Steve Johnson, who travelled from the US to announce that he and his family would match the government's reward, taking it to $2 million.

"We have never seen anything like this before, when a member of the community has come forward and joined the police force ... to help solve a terrible crime that happened in our town," Commissioner Fuller said. 

The 27-year-old American's body was found at the base of a 60-metre cliff at North Head on December 10, 1988.
 Scott Johnson, American in Sydney. Police found him at the edge of clift nicely folded and said 'suicide'. Americans who were  no firends of gays and knew that clift was a good stop for guys to sunbathe. Who beats them self up before jumping
of a clift? No one but police had no answer.

"We know there are people are out there with information and ... we haven't forgotten about Scott. It was my promise to Steve that we would leave no stone unturned."

Investigators say they are looking for two types of people: the person involved in the killing of Scott Johnson, and those informed.

At the time of Mr Johnson's death, police swiftly determined death by suicide, in an investigation Steve Johnson described as tantamount to a "brick wall".

"Not a single thing was done to investigate Scott's death. The scene was cleaned up without any photographs of the top of the cliff. His clothes were picked up [and] any DNA evidence ... notes or footprints or any of that was just left behind. So it was very frustrating," he said on Monday.

A coronial inquest in 1989 found Mr Johnson had died by suicide, while a second inquest in June 2012 returned an open finding.

It was only after the third inquest in 2017 that then-NSW coroner Michael Barnes found Mr Johnson had most likely been the victim of a "gay-hate attack".

"The evidence establishes ... there were gangs of men who habitually went to various locations around Sydney where they expected to find homosexual men with a view to assaulting them," Mr Barnes found.

The 2017 inquest heard from a number of male witnesses, including a succession of confessed or alleged gay bashers from the Narrabeen area.

One of the witnesses included a man who allegedly boasted about bashing an “American faggot” he and another man found masturbating at a beach near Manly in mid-December 1988. 
On Monday, Steve Johnson said that, despite his earlier criticisms, he had been greatly encouraged by the recent progress of the investigation because "everything has changed".

"I spent time with the investigative team ... in 2018. Not only did they understand the case very well, but they were also committed to solving it and this is quite a turnaround."

Commissioner Fuller said the police investigation of Mr Johnson's death was a reflection of "broken" community attitudes at the time that wrongly saw homosexuals as "second-class citizens". 

Scott Johnson died as a victim of a gay hate crime, third coronial inquest finds
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In June 2018, an extensive review of 88 suspicious deaths in Sydney between 1976 and 2000 revealed almost a third were the result of crimes involving suspected or confirmed gay-hate bias.

Mr Johnson's death was among them.

"We're not proud of our history in relation to some of those investigations," Commissioner Fuller said.

"We treat hate crime very differently today. We take action against people for those type of crimes."

He said a number of people had given evidence about the behaviour of gangs that had historically "trolled young men to bash".

"We know that they would have bragged about it. We also know that, as a result of the last [$1 million] reward, that more information came forward."

He said he hoped the additional $1 million would "shake the tree ... and bring Scott's murderer to justice".

November 22, 2019

Australia is Holding A Couple of Gay Journalists From Saudi Arabia who Outed Them and Went After Them

Two gay Saudi journalists, who claim they were outed in retaliation for contacts one of them had with a foreign media outlet, have been detained in Australia after requesting asylum.
LGBT advocates are calling upon the Australian government to release the two men, who fled Saudi Arabia after realizing they were being targeted by the regime of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
NBC News reported that the men arrived in Australia more than a month ago. After they picked up their luggage, customs authorities inspected their bags and phones and asked them if they intended to seek asylum. When they said yes, they were taken to a detention center where they have mostly been held since, one of the journalists and his attorney, Alison Battisson, said.
The men, who were not named, have been together for 16 years.
Homosexuality is illegal in Saudi Arabia and punishable by death.
Just Equal spokesman Brian Greig said in a November 17 news release that since the men's arrival they have been interrogated by authorities, intimidated by the guards, and threatened with violence by other detainees.
"It is unacceptable that LGBTI people escaping threats and detention overseas are then confronted with that here," Greig said in the release.
One of the men told the Guardian that they ran from the Saudis after being imprisoned and threatened with trumped-up charges of leaking negative stories about the regime, only to re-experience a similar situation in Australia.
One of the men, who worked with many foreign reporters in his position at the ministry of media and often defended the regime in the international press, denied the Saudi regime's charges.
The Saudi government cracked down on dissidents in 2018. The men claim they are not dissidents and said the government became suspicious of any journalists' contacts with other reporters who were critical of the regime.
The Guardian reported that one man was targeted by the ministry after a foreign media crew obtained and smuggled incriminating documents of the regime's mistreatment of journalists out of the country in 2018.
Purportedly, the intention was to pass the documents along to Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was slain at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last year.
Prior to escaping their home country, the two men told the newspaper that they "lived a comfortable life of relative wealth and privilege in Riyadh."
"Australia must be a safe refuge for people fleeing persecution, including anti-LGBTI hate and violence," Greig said.
"This must also include a fair, efficient, and unbiased process for dealing with claims of asylum on the basis of sexuality," he added.

Rights group urges Ugandan authorities to stop harassment

Human Rights Watch has urged Ugandan officials to stop harassing and torturing LGBT Ugandans and to drop all charges against the LGBT community members who were caught up in two recent raids.
"Ugandan police are stooping to new lows in their persecution of people for being LGBT," said Neela Ghoshal, senior LGBT rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, in a November 19 news release from the organization.
Joan Amek, who was arrested during a raid on the Ram bar, told HRW, "After the drug accusations failed, they accused us of being idle. But there is no crime, they just need something to pin on people."
Sexual Minorities Uganda Executive Director Frank Mugisha accused police of "trumped-up charges" against the bar's patrons. Voice of America reported that he said the raid was an intimidation tactic targeting Uganda's LGBT community.
"Ugandan police should be protecting people, not violating their rights because of their presumed sexuality or gender identity," said Ghoshal.
On November 10, Ugandan police rounded up an estimated 120 people during an early Monday morning raid on the gay-friendly bar in Kampala.
Police charged 67 of the people arrested with "public nuisance" and violating the Tobacco Control Act 2015, which prohibits smoking opium and shisha. Police released 53 people after dropping all charges against them, according to SMUG. 
The people still detained are being held at a maximum-security prison in the suburb of Luzira. They could face up to a year in jail if sentenced, the group's lawyer Patricia Kimera told Reuters.
A person identified only as Sonia, who was one of the bar patrons arrested, recounted to Gay Nation that the police swarmed the bar and ordered everyone to sit down.
She asked a police officer what people were doing that was wrong.
"I got slapped for it," she said, stating that the officers slapped some of her friends for asking the same question. Some officers were reportedly using homophobic slurs during the arrest.
The bar patrons were later put into police trucks and taken to the central police station. They still hadn't been informed of what they had done wrong, Sonia said.
Another individual also arrested during the raid on the bar and identified as Judy added that many people's lives are forever changed because family members "don't want anything to do with them." Some nearly lost their jobs.
They "don't think they have a life to come back to," she said. "I and my friends can't even have decent sleep because our minds can't rest."
The raid was the sixth reported attack on LGBT gatherings in Uganda since 2012. On October, 16 Ugandan workers were arrested at the office of queer youth empowerment organization Let's Walk Uganda. The workers were charged with homosexuality and forced to undergo anal examinations.
The raids on LGBT venues in Uganda coincides with a particularly violent year of attacks on the community — including a false threat to revive the so-called Kill the Gays Bill — and brutal murders of some LGBT people.

June 29, 2019

Australian Rugby ExStar Israel Folau Go Fund Me Page Closed

Image result for Israel Folau’s anti gay
 "Be what you want to be, no need to put down those different from you. If you do you are nothing but an ignorant punk" Adam

When Australian rugby star Israel Folau’s team contract was terminated after he voiced the principles of his Christian faith, he turned to GoFundMe Australia to crowdsource funds for his legal action against Rugby Australia.

Three days later, the popular fundraising platform took down his page with plans to refund all donors. 

“As a company, we are absolutely committed to the fight for equality for LGBTIQ+ people and fostering an environment of inclusivity,” GoFundMe Australia manager Nicola Britton said, according to The Guardian. 

After his fundraising page was shut down, a “non-party partisan, non-denominational” group called Australian Christian Lobby reached out to Folau with the opportunity to host his fundraiser and donated $100,000 to the cause. The fundraiser raised over $1.5 million as of noon Tuesday.

The liberal Left continue to push their radical agenda against American values. The good news is there is a solution. Find out more >>

Folau, a former Wallabies player, had his $4 million contract with the Australian rugby team terminated in early April after he posted a meme on Instagram that reads: “Warning drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolaters, Hell awaits you. Repent! Only Jesus saves.” 

On June 6, Folau’s legal representatives confirmed that he filed a lawsuit with the Australian Fair Work Commission, claiming his contract was unlawfully terminated because of his religious beliefs. 

On June 21, Folau went to Instagram again to post the link to a GoFundMe campaign he had started to fund the lawsuit, soliciting his followers to support his legal battle. He shared that he and his wife, Maria, had already spent $100,000 on his case.

“So far Maria and I have used over $100K of our savings and I am willing to do what it takes for this cause. But to continue I need to prioritise funding for my legal case,” Folau said in the post, adding:  

To those who believe in the right to practise religion without fear of discrimination in the workplace, here is my ask: Stand with me. I’ve put the link in my bio. If you can and choose to donate, thank you from the bottom of my heart and God bless. #standwithizzy

Three days after the Instagram post, GoFundMe Australia removed Folau’s page Monday morning. The page had received $750,000 in pledges as of Sunday night. 

Britton said the page was removed because it violated GoFundMe’s terms of service.

“After a routine period of evaluation, we have concluded that this campaign violates our terms of service,” Britton said to The Guardian.

She added that the crowdsourcing platform exists “to help people help others,” and that “while we welcome GoFundMes engaging in diverse civil debate, we do not tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion.

January 16, 2019

The Gay and Foster Penguin Parents in Australia

SphengicCreditSea Life Sydney Aquarium

SYDNEY, Australia —

 It was a young penguin colony, and all but one of the couples were pretty bad parents.

They would get distracted from their nests, go for a swim or play, and so neglected eggs were getting cold, likely never to hatch. This was normal for inexperienced penguins, and the aquarium managers didn’t worry. Next mating season would be better.

One couple, though, was extraordinary. Not because they were the colony’s only gay penguins, though they were, but because Sphen and Magic looked like they would make great, diligent, careful egg-warming parents. They made the biggest nest, and they sat on it constantly.

Curious, the aquarium managers gave the two males a dummy egg. They took to it. And so then, when a particularly negligent heterosexual penguin couple looked to be leaving an egg exposed (females lay two, but usually only one survives), the aquarium workers figured they would give it to Sphen and Magic. 

In October, that egg hatched. Now the chick of a gay penguin union is waddling around an ice enclosure by the touristy docks in Sydney.

When Sphen and Magic became a couple, Australia had just gone through a bitter battle about whether gay marriage should be legal. The human gay marriage debate had brought out thorny personal and religious tensions. These two diligent Gentoos, unaware of the political heat around their courtship, became a larger symbol for the country. If a penguin colony could figure this out, a human nation certainly could.

Australia is famous for having many dangerous creatures on land and in water: some of the most dangerous snakes and spiders in the world, kangaroos that look like bodybuilders, great white sharks patrolling surfers. Suddenly, though, Australia’s biggest animal celebrities were two gay penguins, which their keepers noticed with pleasure.

“Everyone likes penguins,” said Tish Hannan, the head of penguin supervision at the aquarium. “They’re so cheeky.”

“They’re not like sharks,” said the senior penguin keeper Amy Lawrie, her second in command. “No one’s had a bad experience with a penguin.” 
Penguin keepers cannot say exactly why one penguin chooses another, especially two penguins as different as Magic and Sphen.

Magic, a 3-year-old Gentoo born at the Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium, is excitable and playful. He chases after toys and anything that shines. He greets visitors.

Sphen, who is 6 and from SeaWorld, is taller and has a bigger beak. He’s quieter, more serious and less interested in toys and humans.

But it was clear early on what Sphen and Magic were doing when they met one summer day at Sea Life Sydney Aquarium.

First, as is the Gentoo way, they began to bow to each other.

They brought each other carefully selected pebbles for the nest they hoped to build together. If either had not been interested he would have rejected the pebble, pushing it away with a beak. But each admired the pebbles he was brought.

Ms. Lawrie described it as “consent.” 

“You would see Magic standing in his spot looking for Sphen, and he would call and Sphen would come running over and give Magic a little bow and sing as well,” Ms. Hannan said. “They’ve chosen each other. That’s it. They’re bonded now.”

Others in the colony of 33 penguins were still flirting. Younger birds tend to take a little while to choose their partners.

“They were recognizing multiple different bird calls and bowing to different individuals,” Ms. Hannan said. “We saw none of that behavior from either Sphen or Magic. They weren’t interested in other birds in the colony.”

And so it was no surprise that the two began preparing for an egg.

“We knew they would start picking up stones,” Ms. Hannan said. “And we knew they would build the best nest.”

When they egg came, Sphen and Magic each took turns sitting on it for 28 days.


The penguin keepers had a discussion.

 Sphen, Magic and Sphengic.CreditCreditSea Life Sydney Aquarium

“We made the decision within the penguin team, and no one was against it,” Ms. Lawrie said. “Any pairs that want to pair up, it’s great.” 
They alerted aquarium leadership that there were going to be two male penguin parents. The aquarium executives embraced it. 
Sphen and Magic, two male penguins at the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, looked after an egg when a heterosexual penguin couple wasn’t up to the task. The 3-month-old chick will be called Sphengic until it gets a permanent name.Published OnJan. 15, 2019CreditCreditSea Life Sydney Aquarium
The aquarium put out a video of the pair singing to each other. There is a video of them making their pebble nest.

Visitors now come just to see the new gay parents and ask tour guides which were the gay penguins.

There were those who objected to using of the word “gay.”

“The word ‘unnatural’ was used a lot,” said Samantha Antoun, the aquarium’s public relations manager. “People said we shouldn’t call them gay because maybe they’re just friends.”

The penguin keepers said they would bring no politics onto the ice.

“We’re not going to discourage any companionship for our penguins,” Ms. Lawrie said. “Love is love.”


The first sign of a good Gentoo parent is that they’re able to recognize an egg has hatched and that the chick is slowly breaking its way out. This can take days. Sphen and Magic noticed straight away.

“When it’s got its face out, it can start talking to its parents, and Magic and Sphen recognized this and started singing to the egg before it even hatched,” Ms. Hannan said.

Their chick — for now called Sphengic — was born on a Friday and weighed 91 grams. It was the only chick to have hatched of all the eggs in the colony.

For the first few months of a chick’s life, it stays close to its parents. Sphen and Magic feed and sing to the chick. They tuck it into bed at night. The chick needs to have its head faced toward the parents when it sleeps under them, so parents use their beaks to keep it in proper position.

Like any couple, Sphen and Magic did face challenges, mostly related to their age difference.

“Magic is the younger one, and he would try to pawn off the parental duties in the first couple days,” Ms. Hannan said. “Sometimes he would be like, ‘You feed the chick today’ and hop off and go swimming.”

But slowly he learned to co-parent. When Magic would feed the chick, Sphen would come over and sing to them. 

“He was singing to encourage him,” Ms. Hannan said. “So Magic would know he was doing the right thing.” 

Now the 3-month-old chick is almost fully grown. He, or she, does not have a permanent name yet. Nor does the penguin have a gender. A penguin’s reproductive organs are internal, so gender can only be determined by a blood test at maturity. Orientation and identity are not Sphengic’s most pressing challenges.

One recent morning, Magic was playing with the other members of the colony, and Sphen was minding Sphengic, who is set aside from the colony in a crèche. Another penguin, Rita, came a little too close. Sphen flapped his wings and lightly jabbed at her with his beak. Sphengic, whose personality has yet to develop, was busy eating ice.

Lunch that day would be pilchards and squid.

The penguin keepers said they do not think much about the politics of Sphengic. But they do see that he is inspiring visitors.

“Penguins are born with the ability to raise chicks from start to finish whether they’re male or female, and that’s quite an interesting thought to keep in mind,” Ms. Hannan said. “We’re the same.”

Many of the other penguins are searching for new pairs for another mating season. But Sphen and Magic remain together. Recently, Sphengic began learning to swim. Sphen and Magic padded nearby, ready to dive in.

September 5, 2018

This Religious Christian Man Thought He Could Deface Art He Doesn't Like_He Learned Otherwise

Benjamin Gittany leaves the Downing Centre Courts, Sydney, Thursday, December 7, 2017.

The Erskineville community wrote messages of support about George Michael and the mural over Gittany's black paint.


Ben Gittany, 24, was sentenced in the New South Wales Local Court on Tuesday morning after he covered the mural in black paint on November 18, 2017.
The artwork, titled "St George", was painted by artist Scott Marsh in the inner Sydney suburb of Erskineville following Michael's death in December 2016. It depicts the gay rights icon wearing a white robe with a halo around his head while holding a joint.
Gittany, a Christian, claimed he was "defending his religion" as he defaced the mural three days after the same-sex marriage postal survey results were announced. The incident happened a week after another mural by Marsh in a neighbouring suburb, showing Tony Abbott and George Pell in a relationship, had also been defaced.
On November 18 Gittany travelled from his home town near Bathurst to Erskineville, stopping at Bunnings to buy $135 worth of supplies, and proceeded to cover the colourful mural in a thick black layer of paint.
In footage of the incident Gittany can be heard saying "I've done nothing wrong, I'm defending my religion".
To an onlooker who warned he may spend time in prison, Gittany said: "I don't care what happens to me, my religion's more important than me."
"What was left [on the wall] was a large area of black paint which arguably was a disturbing message of rejection to the community and arguably a contempt for other people.
"We are not a community where violence, criminal acts and property destruction are sanctioned because you have different beliefs to other people. They had to look at it for months. It distressed the owner and the community, and it was extensive."
Letters supporting Gittany said he was running a carpentry business and taking responsibility in his family, particularly in his role as an uncle.
"Your conduct contradicts the belief that those around you have in you," Huntsman told Gittany.
A character reference from his sister said he had "travelled away from younger offending behaviour".
"Unfortunately the matter before court doesn’t demonstrate that," Huntsman said.
A pre-sentence report on Gittany said the 24-year-old had shown insight that he could learn to accept life in a religious pluralist society.
He also told the officer who wrote the report that he now realised there were other ways to show his disapproval of the mural, like complaining to the council.
Huntsman ordered Gittany carry out 300 hours of community service, which may include cleaning graffiti, and told him: "Every time you have to spend hours washing damaged walls you can reflect on your own conduct."
He was also ordered to pay $14,000 compensation to the owners of the mural.
"Clearly there’s an incredible amount of black paint on that wall. It needs to be primed, it’s a very tall wall and there is a need for lift hire," Huntsman said. The sum also includes the fee of the artist.
Prosecutors had asked for a further $8,000 to graffiti-proof a re-painted version of the mural, but Huntsman said she could not order that as it was not strictly speaking damage compensation.
After Gittany covered the mural in black paint, people in the community wrote messages on it such as "love wins" and "gotta have faith" in support of the LGBTI community and same-sex marriage.
More than 30,000 people signed an online petition supporting Gittany and claiming the mural incited hate against Christians by invoking religious iconography.

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