Australia Hub

Worries Mount as Sydney Cafe Hostage Crisis Enters Fourteenth Hour: VIDEO


An ongoing hostage crisis has rocked the Australian city of Sydney today as police enter the fourteenth hour of the central business district cafe siege.

During rush hour on Monday morning, at least one armed gunman entered the Lindt cafe in Sydney's Martin Place. It remains unclear exactly how many people remain inside the cafe, with reports ranging from 15 to 30 potential hostages. Five people have emerged from the cafe since the siege began, although police have not said whether the five escaped or were released. 

The gunman is also said to be demanding an ISIS flag and a phone call with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

The Guardian reports:

Sydney1Chilling early images showed some hostages apparently forced to hold a black and white flag against the window bearing the Islamic creed, raising fears that a terrorist attack was under way. Other terrified hostages inside the cafe could be seen with their hands pressed against the glass.

Police evacuated offices in the immediate vicinity of the cafe and directed workers in nearby buildings to remain indoors and away from open windows. Panic spread when a man in the area was arrested by police, but the incident was unrelated.

Staff and tourists around Sydney Opera House were also reported to have been evacuated after a suspicious package was spotted. Helicopters were seen hovering above the tourist attraction throughout the day.

The black flag in the window of the cafe appeared to bear the Shahada, an Islamic affirmation of the oneness of God, reading: “There is no god but the God, Muhammad is the messenger of God.”

ABC News adds:

New South Wales Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione, speaking at a news conference as the situation stretched into the night, said authorities remain committed on ensuring that the hostages are safely released.

"We have the very best negotiators in the world on the job," Scipione said.

New South Wales Premier Mike Baird said people should proceed as usual on Tuesday morning, but should work from home if their offices are located within an exclusion zone near the standoff.

Watch news reports on the story, as well as PM Tony Abbott's statement on the ongoing crisis, AFTER THE JUMP...

[bottom photo via Channel 7 News]

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Australia Appoints First Openly Gay Territory Leader Andrew Barr


Andrew Barr has become Australia’s first openly gay government leader after he was appointed leader of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) yesterday, reports ZeeNews.

Barr was appointed after Katy Gallagher stepped down from the role last week.

Barr said that he would continue to be a passionate advocate for same-sex marriage.

Act"It is quite ironic that you can be elected Chief Minister but you can't marry your partner of 15 years. It's time that this discrimination is ended in this country and I will continue to be a loud and passionate voice for that change.

"Canberra is Australia's most LGBTI-friendly city. I hope for the day when it is entirely unremarkable when someone in political leadership heading a government is openly gay or lesbian or bi-sexual or otherwise.

"We are inclusive and we strive to ensure that all of our citizens are treated equally and I look forward to the day when we can say that about our country."

The ACT voted to support same-sex marriage last year but the High Court later struck down the law, ruling that the federal parliament must decide on same-sex unions.

Although his party is opposed to same-sex marriage, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been urged to allow a conscience vote on the issue. A 2012 vote on the issue was defeated 98 to 42 after Abbott refused to allow his MPs a conscience vote.

A new bill legalizing same-sex marriage was introduced in the Australian parliament last month.

#5daysofequality Celebrates the 1 Year Anniversary of Australia's First Married Gay Couples: VIDEO


For a brief window of time one year ago, marriage equality was legal in the Australian Capitol Territory and 31 eager same-sex couples tied the knot. Five days after the marriages began, however, the country's highest court struck down the new law and the marriages that had taken place were annulled.

5 daysAs the first anniversary is traditionally recognized as a "Paper Anniversary," GLAAD has embarked on a global campaign to honor the big day with custom letterpress printed cards sent to the couples. The organization has also created the #5daysofequality hashtag to enable people around the world to post a message of love and support to the couples on social media.

Check out the campaign's new video, AFTER THE JUMP...

And to meet some of the couples, visit

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Inspiring Parents Announce 'Arrival' Of 19-Year-Old Transgender Son - VIDEO

Kai Bogert

In a move that may well restore your faith in humanity, the parents of Australian transgender teenager Kai Bogert - who was born Elizabeth Anne - have placed a birth notice in their local newspaper to celebrate the “arrival” of their 19-year-old son, reports The Daily Mail. 23AA5C2200000578-2857263-This_birth_announcement_appeared_in_Tuesday_s_edition_of_Queensl-10_1417521571927

Kai’s parents Yolanda Bogert and Guy Kershaw placed the notice in yesterday’s edition of Brisbane newspaper The Courier Mail to correct their “mistake” and place a “retraction.”

The message reads:

“In 1995 we announced the arrival of our sprogget, Elizabeth Anne, as a daughter. He informs us that we were mistaken. Oops! Our bad. We would now like to present, our wonderful son – Kai Bogert. Loving you is the easiest thing in the world.”

Explaining the notice, Kai’s mother said:

“I needed to show my son I support him 100 per cent and wanted to let the world know that. It is all very new to us. Kai just told me a few days ago that he no longer wanted to live as a girl.”

Kai added:

“This last week has changed everything for me. I am still me but I am more me than I was a few days ago and feel free.”

Kai is yet to undergo gender reassignment.  His parents have now set up a transition fund.

Watch a preview of an Australian documentary about the struggles of young transgender people, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Anti-Gay British Pundit Comes Out Fighting For Ban On 'Promotion' Of Homosexuality


Lord Christopher Monckton, an anti-gay bigot and former deputy leader of British right wing party UKIP, has again taken to birther wingnut rag WorldNetDaily in support of an Australian politician who last month called for a ban on the “promotion” of homosexuality, reports Right Wing Watch.

Right-wing Rise Up Australia counsellor Rosalie Crestani had called for the City of Casey near Melbourne to stop all diversity training, to ban media releases related to sexual orientation, to remove pro-gay signs on council premises and to ban pro-LGBT messages for discriminating against straight people. 6a00d8341c730253ef01b7c7106453970b-250wi

Monckton last week said that gay people have up to 20,000 sexual partners as part of their “deathstyles”.

In a column published yesterday, Monckton suggested that a ban on the “promotion” of homosexuality can actually help gay people by saving them from their “deathstyle”.

Attacking the “hate-filled” councillors who have “ganged up” on Crestani, he also claimed countries that allow gay people to adopt children do not care about “our innocent little ones” and that same-sex marriages - we’re guessing he means all same-sex marriages worldwide - are likely to only last “a few weeks or months.”

His vile outburst reads in part:

“Councillor Rosalie Crestani’s courageous stand against the pro-homosexual discrimination at the City of Casey Council on the fringes of Melbourne has enraged the forces of darkness.

“Her fellow councillors have ganged up against her to try to get her removed from the council for what – in their hate-filled eyes – is the crime of daring to speak out in accordance not only with her religious and political beliefs but also with her duties as an elected councillor.

“And why are some states allowing them to ‘marry’ when the probability that the ‘marriage’ will last for more than a few weeks or months is vanishingly different from zero?

“And why, oh why, do a few nations allow them to adopt and bring up children? Do we not care more for our innocent little ones than that?”

Watch a report on Monckton's comments, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Openly Gay Australian Athlete Simon Dunn Will Turn You Into a Bobsled Fan in No Time: PHOTOS


Australian Bobsledder Simon Dunn recently announced he's gay and is the first person in the sport to come out reports Same Same.

Currently Dunn's role on the Aussie team is brakemen for fellow teammate Lucas Mata who was the brakemen for Heathe Spence at the Sochi Olympics. Dunn also plays rugby for the Sydney Convicts, and says it was an easy crossover sport into bobsledding as training for both of them require similar exercises.

Dunn2Said Dunn:

"I was approached by a member of the Australian team through my rugby club in Calgary. Rugby is an easy crossover sport to bobsleigh, as the training is similar and the main idea is to run hard and fast.

"My years playing rugby for the Sydney Convicts in Sydney definitely helped my conditioning to be ready for the sport."

Dunn competed in the North America Cup in Utah this month, competing against other teams from around the world; many of them past olympians. Dunn is competing in upcoming competitions in Calgary, Lake Placid and Park City.

Dunn is also quite active on Instagram, posting some sexy shots of him playing rugby, showing off his guns and numerous shirtless pictures. Need further convincing on whether to follow him or not? He's also single, posts pictures of himself with puppies and is apparently great with children. Maybe it's the season, but it looks like winter athletes really know how to turn up the heat


Two more shots, AFTER THE JUMP...

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