As a nation, Australia maintains appalling laws against gay and lesbian people. We live under a regime of apartheid. It is an apartheid not based on the colour of our skin, but on the colour of our sexuality. Homophobia is nothing less than sexual racism. We are people, first and foremost. We work, we have lives, we love and have relationships. We are family. Yet despite being citizens, voters and taxpayers, lesbian and gay Australians do not have the same rights – or in many cases have no rights – to those things in life that heterosexual people take for granted. Gay & Lesbian people can be denied access to a hospital to visit their partner if they are sick or injured – because their relationship is not legally recognised as next of kin. Should they die, their partner has no legal claim to their superannuation death benefit, despite the fact that they may have been nominated as a beneficiary. Gay and Lesbian people can not claim their partner as a dependant or split their incomes for taxation purposes and, if they do separate, there is no legal mechanism to ensure fair and responsible property settlement – they are denied access to the family court.

These complications are even more pronounced for the many gay and lesbian families raising children. The government of Australia now has legislated law that bans same sex marriages, it has now also banned gay & lesbian couples from accessing adoption and has banned members of the gay community who have been married legally overseas from accessing the Australian courts to have their relationship legally recognised. Heterosexual people do not have a monopoly on relationships and good child rearing practices. Gay and lesbian people fighting for compensation and superannuation death benefits find also that the spirit of those acts can not be applied to same sex relationships. And so it is with unfair stamp duty payments and other taxation imposts, property settlement, family payments and spousal recognition within the defence forces and Public Service. Gay and Lesbian people seeking to be regarded as next of kin for hospital visits or funeral arrangements can find that the spirit of those acts cannot be applied to them, and immigration process for same sex couples applies differently and to our disadvantage.

In his victory speech in 1998, Prime Minister Howard spoke of the need for a more caring and tolerant Australia. At their national conference in Hobart a few years ago, the Australian Labour party unanimously passed a motion recognising the need for equality and justice for gay and lesbian people. Yet, here and now in 2005, both Prime Minister Howard and the Liberal & Labour parties have supported legislation that forever bans gay and lesbian people from marrying and adopting children. Just imagine for one moment the world outrage if the Australian government banned Aborigines or coloured people or Asian people or Jewish people or other groups of minority people from marring or having a relationship and banned them from adopting children and discriminated against them like they do the GLBT community, yet because this ban is aimed at gay & lesbian people this legislation has gone unnoticed and unreported. Discrimination against gay and lesbian people is as morally repugnant as any form of discrimination - such as those based on skin colour, ethnicity, religious beliefs, gender or age.

As a nation Australia has fallen behind comparable jurisdictions, such as New Zealand, Canada and South Africa, in terms of protecting the human rights of homosexual people. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and her Australian government condone this apartheid, and they are creating the social and political environment that leads to harassment and violence towards gay and lesbian people. While her parliament continues to deny our relationships, and render us to be second-class citizens without legal protection, then some will take this as their cue to continue to treat us badly. Australian research shows that almost half of all gay and lesbian people report some form of discrimination or harassment at work, including sacking. Roughly 30 per cent of gay & lesbian people experience harassment at school. 70 per cent of gay and lesbian people report being verbally abused, threatened or bashed in a public space, and worst of all Australia has the worlds highest rate of youth suicide with thousands of its young gay citizens taking there own life each year, more young Australians die from suicide than they do from car accidents, suicide is to date the biggest killer of Australian youth and many of these are believed to be gay. On a personal level I have lost 5 of my closest gay friends to suicide.

Mathew Shepard was a slightly built 21 year old student in the United States, a few years ago he was lured from a campus bar by two men. They drove him to a remote area outside the town and viciously beat him. As he lay there bleeding, begging for his life, he was bound to a fence and left in near freezing temperatures to die. He had been beaten so badly that his limp body, when found, was at first thought to be a scarecrow, His attackers had stolen his shoes and robbed his apartment. After being struck in the head 18 times with the butt of a hand gun, he remained in a coma for five days without regaining consciousness, before dying. Matthew Shepard was murdered because he was gay. Before anyone is tempted to think this could happen only in America, I would like to remind the Australian government that no fewer than 100 men have been bashed to death in Australia since 2000, simply because they were gay or presumed to be so.

This violence does not occur in a vacuum, it is not spontaneous. Hatred of this kind takes years to mature within societies. It is nurtured through a culture of invisibility and fear towards gay and lesbian people and the neglect and indifference of parliaments. Each time a piece of legislation comes before parliament and touches on human rights and human relationships but excludes gay and lesbian people and denies our relationship, it perpetuates this culture of invisibility. Each time a public figure or religious speaker denounces our existence or seeks to justify our differential treatment, it perpetuates this culture of fear. It is my hope that the Gay Kingdom and its government will go towards addressing this imbalance, as an independent nation the GK will give gay people a voice in the United Nations, those members of the gay tribe who live in other homophobic nations may apply and seek refuge under the gay flag and more importantly the government of the gay & lesbian kingdom will also have a legal platform to bring rich and powerful nations such as America before the International Court of Justice to end discrimination against gay and lesbian people that live and work within its borders. People are not allowed access to the International Court only territories and states are permitted to bring cases before the ICJ that is why a gay state is of such vital importance. The problem for the gay community to date is that worldwide discrimination has been allowed to continue against us because gay and lesbian people have no country and hence no voice. It is true that the land area of the Gay Kingdom is very small and officially we will become the worlds smallest kingdom and its third smallest country only the Vatican and Monaco will be smaller, but it is not the size of the country that is important, it is the international platform that the kingdom will bring to homosexuals that will benefit all gay and lesbian people around the world. This is an exciting time for all of us and we thank everyone who is working tirelessly to help make this happen.

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