The Gay and Lesbian Declaration of Independence – The Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands – formally the Australian territory of the Coral Sea Islands.

Homosexual people have honestly endeavoured everywhere to merge ourselves in the social life of surrounding communities and to be treated equally. We are not permitted to do so. In vain we are loyal patriots, our loyalty in some places running to extremes, in vain do we make the same sacrifices of life and property as our fellow citizens, in vain do we strive to increase the fame of our native land in science and art, or her wealth by trade and commerce. In countries where we have lived for centuries, we are still cried down as strangers…in the world as it is now and for an indefinite period…I think we shall not be left in peace.

No one can deny the gravity of the situation for those born homosexual. Wherever they live in perceptible numbers, they are more or less persecuted.

Attacks in parliament both here in Australia, in America, in Britain and in assemblies around the world, in the press, in the pulpit, in the street, on journeys…even in places of recreation, become daily more numerous…

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal stations to which the laws of nature and of natures god entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness-

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principals and organising its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more deposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, that to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism it is their right, it is their duty to throw off such governments and to provide new guards for their future security.

Such has been the patient sufferance of the homosexual people of the Coral Sea Island Territory; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present Queen of Australia is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over homosexual people of the Coral Sea Island Territory to prove this let facts be submitted to a candid world. She has refused her assent to laws and hence 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. But homosexuality is not a behaviour to be regulated. It is an identity to be respected. 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 and Lesbian couples can be denied access to a hospital to visit their partner if he or she is sick or injured – because they are not considered next of kin. If they should die, their partner has no legal claim to their superannuation death benefit, despite the fact that they have nominated them as their beneficiary. Gay or lesbian couples cannot claim their partner as a dependant or split their incomes for taxation purposes and, if they should separate, there is no legal mechanism to ensure fair and reasonable 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. It may come as a surprise to the government of Australia that many gay men do in fact have children and that about 30 per cent of lesbian couples either have or plan to have children. Despite this, some people still promote arguments and laws in opposition to what is the reality of many people’s lives. But the fact remains that, no matter how many obstacles you place in front of women trying to have children, those women who really want children will have children, as is their right. Heterosexual people do not have a monopoly on good child rearing practices. It is those people who really want children who make the best parents.

Gay and lesbian people fighting for compensation and superannuation death benefits find that the spirit of those acts cannot 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 the immigration process for same sex couples applies differently and to our disadvantage. The spirit does not apply here either. No, the spirit of Commonwealth legislation towards same sex relationships is decidedly mean spirited. We are excluded.

Discrimination against gay and lesbian people is as morally repugnant as racism or anti-Semitism. 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. For as long as governments condone this apartheid, they are creating the social and political environment that leads to harassment and violence towards gay and lesbian people.

While parliaments continue to deny our relationships, deem us to be criminals, and render us to be second-class citizens without legal protections, then some people 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 sackings. Roughly 30 per cent of lesbian and gay people experience harassment at school. And, worst of all, 70 per cent of gay and lesbian people report being verbally abused, threatened or bashed in a public place.
Matthew Shepherd was a slightly built 21-year-old student in Wyoming in the United States. About a year ago he was lured from a campus bar by two men. They drove him to a remote area outside the town of Laramie, where they 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 Shepherd was murdered because he was gay.
Before anyone in Australia is tempted to think that this could only happen in America, we would like to remind the government of Australia that no fewer than 30 men have been bashed to death in Australia in the past couple of years 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 the parliament and touches on human rights and human relationships but excludes gay and lesbian people and denies our relationships, 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.
In ever stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms, our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Princess, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of free homosexuals.
Nor have we been wanting in attentions to our heterosexual brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration to the Coral Sea Island Territory. We have appealed to the Australian Parliament and they too have been deaf to the voice of justice and consanguinity. We must therefore in the necessity, which denounces our separation and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends –
We, therefore as representatives of the homosexual people, in general congress, assembled, appealing to the supreme judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do in the name, and by authority of the good gay people of the Coral Sea Islands, and in the name of our Dale, our Emperor, solemnly publish and declare, that the Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands one and of right ought to be, free and independent that is now absolved from all allegiance to the Australian crown, and that all political connections between them and Australia, is and ought to be totally dissolved and that as free and independent, we have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent Kingdom may of right do.
And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honour.
We extend the hand of peace and good neighbourliness to all the states around us and to their peoples.

14 June 2004

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