Tasmania Hub

Australian Christian Leader Says Smoking Healthier Than Being Gay

Remarks by Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) Jim Wallace at a debate with Green party leader Christine Milne at the University of Tasmania today are inspiring anger from LGBT advocates, The Age reports:

WallaceAnswering a question from a student on the relevance of his views, he said health statistics among the gay community were worse than those for smokers.

"I think we're going to owe smokers a big apology when the homosexual community's own statistics for its health - which it presents when it wants more money for health - are that is has higher rates of drug-taking, of suicide, it has the life of a male reduced by up to 20 years," he told the audience.

"The life of smokers is reduced by something like seven to 10 years and yet we tell all our kids at school they shouldn't smoke."

After the debate, Mr Wallace said the figures saddened him.

"But what I'm saying is we need to be aware that the homosexual lifestyle carries these problems and ... normalising the lifestyle by the attribution of marriage, for instance, has to be considered in what it does encouraging people into it," he said.

Tasmania came one step closer to passing marriage equality last week when its lower house approved the measure.

Tasmanians Celebrate as Premier Suggests it Will Be First Australian State to Have Marriage Equality: VIDEO, PHOTOS


As Brandon mentioned briefly yesterday, the Australian state of Tasmania is likely to become the first to adopt marriage equality after a statement from its Premier Lara Giddings over the weekend:

“We will be leading the way for the rest of Australia to follow,” Giddings, 39, told a ruling state Labor Party conference in Hobart on Aug. 4, vowing to make the change this term. “There are nations across the world who have already taken this step, some of whom that you would not believe would have done this in advance of a nation like our own.”

Tasmanians United for Marriage Equality reports: Tasmania

About 70 Tasmanian marriage equality supporters gathered at Parliament House today to toast Premier Lara Gidding's announcement that Tasmania will become the first Australian state to allow same-sex couples to marry (two pictures attached). Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesperson, Rodney Croome, said there has been an overwhelming response to yesterday's announcement by Premier Giddings.

"In the last 24 hours the response to Lara Gidding's announcement from same-sex couples and their families across the state and the nation has been overwhelming, with emails pouring in asking 'when can we marry?'."

"Overnight, Tasmania has become a beacon of hope for hundreds of thousands of Australians."

At today's gathering (photos above, below) Mr Croome thanked Tasmanian Premier, Lara Giddings and the Tasmanian Labor Party Conference, which yesterday endorsed state marriage equality, Tasmanian Greens' Leader, Nick McKim, who was the first state MP in Australia to introduce state marriage equality in 2005, Australian Greens' Leader, Christine Milne, whose legislation decriminalised homosexuality in 1997 (both of whom attended today's event), and those members of the crowd who had campaigned for so long for equality.

Tasmanians United for Marriage Equality released a video over the weekend discussing marriage equality's benefits and what folks can do to make it a reality.


(photos: dave reilly)


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NEWS: Imperiled Love, A Fiddly Pastor, And The Loveliness Of The Moon From The Thames


Towleroad-roadicon Meet Jon and Nedo, a binational married couple whose union is imperiled by an expiring visa:

Since the day we first met, Nedo and I have not been apart with the exception of the seven months while we waited for him to come to the United States on his student visa ... To this day the effects of [the] decision to leave his family are deeply emotional and he can’t allow himself to communicate with them regularly because it is easier to disassociate then deal with the enormity of that decision. Every time he talks to his family he ends up crying for the remainder of the night.  He misses his nieces and nephews terribly and it hurts him not to see them regularly. The fact that he is separated from his mother is something he can’t even fully grasp without his eyes swelling with tears. Due to his current legal status he cannot risk leaving the country for fear his visa will not be renewed, but this means he also must live with the knowledge that he may never see his parents again. They are getting older and the more time that goes by without him being able to visit is another form of torment for us as a gay binational American family. My husband experiences this pain often, and it causes me to resent my government for the pain our families suffer in the name of DOMA.

... Each year we participate in the Diversity Visa Green Card Lottery and this last year was especially bitter for us as we are running out of time on Nedo’s visa. The Green Card Lottery is our final hope ... Because his visa will be up in February of 2013 we are running out of options ...

We can no longer put off conversations about what will happen to us next year ...

Towleroad-roadicon Tasmania likely to become first Australian state to grant marriage equality.

Towleroad-roadicon Conservative news organs complain that the mainstream media ignored Chick-fil-A appreciation day.

Towleroad-roadicon Indiana megachurch pastor Jack Schaap dismissed after allegations of sexual conduct with a 16-year-old girl:

“At this time, we deeply regret the need to announce that First Baptist Church has dismissed our pastor, Dr. Jack Schaap, due to a sin that has caused him to forfeit his right to be our pastor,” the church said in a statement.

Towleroad-roadicon There were as many as a hundred Christian families in the Egyptian town of Dahshour. After mob rampage, there are none:

The violence was ultimately rooted in a dispute over a badly ironed shirt that escalated into a fight in which a Christian burned a Muslim to death, in turn sparking the rampage by angry Muslims.

"It was a devil's moment," Wehba said Thursday at the home of her Muslim neighbors, who have taken her in. "Whoever caused this was the devil's son."

Towleroad-roadicon What Afghan girls brave on the way to school.

Towleroad-roadicon Five ridiculous atheists.

Towleroad-roadicon NBC apologizes for airing an ad starring a gymnast monkey immediately after recapping Gabby Douglas's gold-winning performance.

Towleroad-roadicon Michael Phelps concludes a storied career.

Towleroad-roadicon A lucky Olympic picture.


Extraordinary Story Of Lost Boy; Found His Way Home Via Google Earth

TrainInKhandwaOn Friday, the BBC publshed an extraordinary human interest story about a young Indian man named Saroo, who was once a little boy who became very, very lost.

In 1986, Saroo was five years old, working as a "sweeper" on commuter trains with his older brother. After a day of toil, he nodded off on a train station bench, expecting his brother to wake him when it was time to catch a train home. When he awoke, he saw no sign of his brother. But a train sat at the platform, and Saroo assumed his brother was aboard. Saroo boarded and promptly dozed off again. When he awoke it was 14 hours later, and he was in desperately poor Calcutta. He was five, and didn't know the name of his own small hometown. He could tell no one where he was from.

From the Beeb:

"I was absolutely scared. I didn't know where I was. I just started to look for people and ask them questions."

Soon he was sleeping rough. "It was a very scary place to be. I don't think any mother or father would like to have their five year old wandering alone in the slums and trains stations of Calcutta."

The little boy learned to fend for himself. He became a beggar, one of the many children begging on the streets of the city. "I had to be quite careful. You could not trust anyone." Once he was approached by a man who promised him food and shelter and a way back home. But Saroo was suspicious. "Ultimately I think he was going to do something not nice to me, so I ran away."

Saroo eventually found his way into an orphanage, and was adopted by a couple in Tasmania. He settled into a new life, but was understandably intrigued by the mystery of his past. And that past would likely have stayed mysterious were it not for the advent of Google Earth. Saroo still didn't know the name of his hometown, but he remembered its landmarks well enough. From the Beeb:

"[Google Earth] was just like being Superman. You are able to go over and take a photo mentally and ask, 'Does this match?' And when you say, 'No', you keep on going and going and going."

Eventually Saroo hit on a more effective strategy. "I multiplied the time I was on the train, about 14 hours, with the speed of Indian trains and I came up with a rough distance, about 1,200km."

He drew a circle on a map with its centre in Calcutta, with its radius about the distance he thought he had travelled. Incredibly, he soon discovered what he was looking for: Khandwa. "When I found it, I zoomed down and bang, it just came up. I navigated it all the way from the waterfall where I used to play."

Saroo eventually visited Khandwa, where he found both heartbreak and something like closure. Read the Beeb for details. Meanwhile, movie producers and publishers have apparently taken an interest in Saroo's story -- as it seems likely will Google, whose Google Earth always seemed semi-miraculous anyway, though never so much as now.


Tasmania Set to Recognize Same-Sex Unions Performed Elsewhere?

Tasmania's legislative council is set to consider a bill approved by its Lower House of parliament that recognizes same-sex unions performed elsewhere, ABC News reports:

Tasmania"Only three of the 25 Members of the House of Assembly - Liberals Rene Hidding, Michael Ferguson and Jacqui Petrusma - voted against the amendment to the Relationships Act. Attorney-General Lara Giddings says the changes will remove discrimination for same-sex couples in registered relationships. 'This is really a small step, but a significant and important step for those people who have registered or been through a civil union process elsewhere around the world and want us to recognise that relationship as indeed being in existence,' she said. Gay rights campaigner Rodney Croome has welcomed the bill and says he hopes it puts same-sex marriage back on the agenda."

The bill now goes before Tasmania's Legislative Council for approval.

News: Dominick Dunne, Elephants, Waterworld, James Duke Mason

 road Domestic Partner benefits for federal employees advances through Senate committee in 8-1 vote. "On Wednesday morning, Dec. 16, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee favorably reported the Domestic Partner Benefits and Obligations Act out of committee on an 8-1 vote. The mark-up, which took less than a half hour, stood in stark contrast to the several hours of debate that the bill faced before being reported out of the relevant House committee in November."

Mason_carlisle road Some pretty adorable photos of Belinda Carlisle and her gay son James Duke Mason from the new issue of Attitude.

 road Jake Gyllenhaal is A Single Man.

 roadExperts weigh in on Ron Livingston's lawsuit against Wikipedia over frequently reappearing claims on his page that he is gay.

 roadBeenie Man: Anatomy of a Facebook protest.

 roadNYDN: DNC Treasurer Andrew Tobias was behind Jon Cooper's endorsement of Kirsten Gillibrand.

 roadBuju Banton being transferred to Tampa.

 roadIf you've watched the documentary Food Inc, you've heard of Monsanto, the evil seed company forcing smaller farmers out of business. The AP has just finished an investigation on them: "We now believe that Monsanto has control over as much as 90 percent of (seed genetics). This level of control is almost unbelievable. The upshot of that is that it's tightening Monsanto's control, and makes it possible for them to increase their prices long term. And we've seen this happening the last five years, and the end is not in sight."

 roadWATCH: the much better director's cut of Britney Spears' "3" video.

Dunne  roadDominick Dunne: confirmed bisexual. "His son said on the TV news show that it was just like his dad to 'finally come out and then leave. It was hardly a big deal either way. He was was closeted about heterosexuality as much as bisexuality as he was about celibacy. He didn't have boyfriends or lovers, they were never part of our lives.'"

 roadRingling Brothers' elephant training method: break 'em young.

 roadWATCH: Ridley Scott's new trailer for Robin Hood.

 roadGay couple living in lockdown fear in Tasmania: "Tasmania Police also has been advised of the couple's situation after their clothes were slashed on the clothes line and bricks and rocks were thrown through their windows on several occasions. But because their lives are not considered at risk by police, they must remain locked inside, limit their movements outside their tiny apartment and wait for another property to become available for them to move into."

 roadJohn Mayer tells Ellen he's tired of thinking with his penis.

Waterworld road Astronomers discover massive waterworld orbiting nearby star more "earthlike" than any seen before.

 roadNJ Governor-elect Chris Christie on Bruce Springsteen's announcement endorsing marriage equality and The Boss's decision not to play his inauguration: "Obviously, two bad decisions on his part...Bruce and I don't agree on certain things politically -- big shock. But it doesn't diminish at all my enjoyment of him as an artist and a performer."

 roadAndy Murray and his team have a shirtless training session.

 roadDisgusting: Italian student arrested in UK while filming for fun.

 roadTruro, Nova Scotia mayor gets hate crime complaint after remarks he made about a local gay cruising area.

 roadFantastic new image from the Hubble.

 roadAT&T calls 'Operation Chokehold' "pointless" and "irresponsible".

 roadMeet the designers for Project Runway: Season 7.

 roadThe L.A. Times looks at the Autry museum's current exhibition about gays and transgender people in the American West: "So far, the Autry hasn't received any complaints about the series either from the public or internally, according to museum leaders. One trustee they wouldn't name voiced concern that the program might portray conservatives as bigots in the vein of the character played by Randy Quaid in 'Brokeback Mountain.'"


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