Uniting Network at Mardi Gras 2016

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(Photo by Andrew Hill)

On Saturday 5th March, Sydney’s Oxford Street was awash with rainbows and glitter and filled with music for the annual Mardi Gras parade. On one float, 70 people marched with ‘Uniting Network’ – the LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer) members in the Uniting Church and our friends, families, and supporters. Marchers met in Pitt Street Uniting Church beforehand with Uniting marchers to pray and heard from Steve Teulan (of Uniting Ageing) and Peter Worland (Uniting CEO). Then, the group made its way to Hyde Park. On the way, they were drumming (to demonstrate anger) and holding lanterns (as a symbol of light). This is because the theme of the float was more sombre than the typical Mardi Gras celebrations: “LGBTIQ Refugees Are Welcome Here.” The float was a protest directed towards the Australian government’s treatment of people fleeing persecution overseas because of their LGBTIQ status. There are currently numerous LGBTIQ people having their claims of asylum in Australia slowly processed; some are detained on Manus Island. You can find pictures from the night (taken by Andrew Hill) here and a photo montage here.

The parade followed a forum held at Pitt Street on 24th February with the theme ‘LGBTIQ Refugees: Australia Can Do More.’ Speakers included Gillian Triggs of the Human Rights Commission, Imam Nur Wasame of ‘Marhaba’ for LGBTIQ Muslims, and Che Bishop COO of Asylum Seekers Centre. The forum was well-attended by church members and community groups, and finished with new avenues for concerned people to take action together.

After a hectic, exciting, and humbling experience preparing for Mardi Gras, Uniting Network now looks forward to the national gathering in Melbourne in June: “Daring to Reach Out: Honouring Our Diversity.” More info below…

Uniting Network goes to Mardi Gras Parade 2016!

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Uniting Network is the forum for LGBTI members and their friends and supporters in the Uniting Church in Australia. We support the inclusion of LGBTI members and leadership within the Church, for Marriage Equality and for Refugees and the Persecuted internationally.

Please join us as we march together at Sydney Mardi Gras Parade 2016, where we say “LGBTI Refugees Are Welcome Here!” We will be marching wearing black (one of the UCA colours, and to express our sorrow); and carrying banners, signs, and red and white lanterns (the other UCA colours, to shine light in the darkness); and drumming (to demonstrate our frustration and anger at the current situation).

A $25 registration fee covers basic costs for vehicle hire, resources, and a T-shirt for all participants. REGISTER HERE.

Further details will be sent to participants closer to the day.

Venue: Parade is on Saturday 5th March 2016. We will gather at Pitt Street Uniting Church in the early afternoon to pray and to complete any last-minute organising (including signing a volunteer participation form to be covered by the Uniting Church’s public liability insurance). We will then make our way to the parade marshalling area in Hyde Park.

Contact Details: Keith Gerrard, NSW/ACT Co-Convenor, keithgordongerrard@hotmail.com

LGBTQI Refugees – Australia can do more: Queer Thinking Forum

LGBTQI Refugees – Australia can do more: Queer Thinking Forum

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Registration essential: https://register.eventarc.com/32715/lgbtiq-refugees-time-to-do-more

Hosted by Uniting Network Australia, and Pitt St Uniting Church

The conversation on LGBTIQ refugees demands immediate attention. There is an increasing number of asylum claims based on gender or sexual orientation, yet a narrowing of the political and media conversation about race and refuges in Australia.

Whether it is providing better care, support and rights to LGBTIQ refugees within the current system or whether it is changing the political landscape of Australia so that our nation can be a welcoming refuge for those fleeing persecution based on gender or sexuality, this forum will centre on the provocation that Australia can do more.

A panel of experts will explore some of the unique challenges faced by many LGBTQI refugees, outline the current complex policy landscape and propose strategies for long, medium and immediate term action to make our Australia a place of inclusiveness and refuge from gender violence and sexually-based persecution.

NB: This is a secular discussion. People from all walks of life are invited to attend.

Moderator: Rev. Dr. Margaret Mayman (Minister Pitt St Uniting Church)

Panellists:
Professor Dennis Altman (acclaimed author, Queer Wars)
Naomi Steer (National Director, Australia for UNHCR)
Imam Nur Warsame (Marhaba Melbourne)
Tim Wilson (Human Rights Commissioner)

Event Date: Wednesday 24th February 2016

Event Time: 7pm – 9pm

Venue: Pitt Street Uniting, 264 Pitt Street, Sydney 2010

Tickets: FREE

Registration Essential: https://register.eventarc.com/32715/lgbtiq-refugees-time-to-do-more

What are the best strategies UNA should adopt if we are to advance the cause of marriage equality prior to the July 2018 UCA Assembly?

We’re seeking your feedback – email us at info@unitingnetworkaustralia.org.au

A number of resources, including UNA’s official submission to the Assembly, are available below. These resources are from individuals or official groups within the Uniting Church. We would be pleased to receive any further resources, especially from within the Uniting Church, and we will add them to the website.

For our official UNA Call for Marriage Equality 2015, click here.
For UJA’s submission, click here.
For UNA’s Response to the Assembly Discussion Paper on Marriage 2014, click here.
For Pitt Street’s submission, click here.
For UJA’s Response to the Assembly Discussion Paper on Marriage 2014, click here.
Click here for the Assembly documents: the Working Group paper and the Bos paper, and decisions of the 1997 Assembly.
And here’s a great personal essay to get you thinking…
Marriage Equality and the Uniting Church (Author: Shelly Frances Kershaw)
Click here.
For Assembly decisions prior to 2015, click here.
For the Draft Decisions of the 2015 Assembly and the President’s Letter on Marriage, click here.

Uniting Network at Fair Day 2016 Feb 21st

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Every year, more than 80,000 people descend on Victoria Park for Fair Day. This year, Uniting Network will have a stall with information about our group, a list of affirming congregations in Sydney, and information about our Mardi Gras float for this year. But most importantly, it’s a chance to meet people, have fun, and share our message with the wider community.
If you’d like to volunteer for a shift on the stall, email keithgordongerrard@hotmail.com to get on the roster. Or just come along and say g’day, grab one of our badges, and enjoy the rest of the festival.

21st February at 11:00am – 9:00pm
Victoria Park, City Road, Chippendale, NSW

For more information about Fair Day, go to www.mardigras.org.au/2016-festival-event-guide/fair-day

March with Uniting Network Australia @ Pride March Victoria | Sun 31 Jan 2016

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Join UNA members & friends in 2016! Assemble from midday; March at 2.00pm sharp; party in the park until late.
Melbourne’s iconic annual Midsumma Pride March recognises and celebrates Victoria’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, intersex and transgender community, while remembering the road we have already travelled on this journey to equity.
On Sunday 31 January 2016, Midsumma Pride March will celebrate it’s 21st Anniversary, so be sure you are there to show your colours! It is a key date on Victoria’s cultural calendar and a destination for interstate and international visitors.
The theme for 2016 is “Marriage Equality”!
There are two ways you can take part in the Midsumma Pride March:
Get your group together to march down Fitzroy Street, St Kilda and show your pride!
Are you proud? Got something to want to tell the world? Want to do it colourfully and publicly? We have just the answer; register your group to march down Fitzroy Street as part of the Midsumma Pride March.
Whilst we call it a march, we enthusiastically encourage dancing, singing, strutting, catwalking and voguing. The more choreographed and fabulous your group is, the more impact we can make, and the more spectacular the event gets. Take a look at Some Pride March Inspiration for a few ideas from around the world.
Purchase a picnic pack and join us for the post-march celebrations in Catani Gardens
Following the march down Fitzroy Street, the energy and pride will continue at Catani Gardens for a family-friendly, dynamic picnic in the park. Local traders will be selling delicious, delectable and devilishly good picnic baskets, so after you’ve watched the March, head down to Catani Gardens, grab a picnic basket and join us for the community celebrations.
More info @ https://midsumma.org.au/participate/pride-march/info

Uniting Network NSW/ACT – Public Meeting – 5.00 PM on 23rd September 2015 at Pilgrim House (next to Pitt St UC)

We will be having another Uniting Network NSW/ACT public meeting.

The format last time worked very well, so we will be following it again: informal; hearing reports back from a few people; sharing any news; working on upcoming events such as Mardi Gras; closing in prayer; and some refreshments and snacks provided.

Some agenda items we will include are:

* Reports back from a very positive meeting with NSW/ACT Moderator Myung Hwa Park just before National Assembly.
* Reports back from the recent UCA National Assembly in Perth in July, especially regarding the response to the Marriage Discussion Paper.
* The very positive correspondence with Matthew Tyne (Associate Director, Relief and Development) of UnitingWorld (UCA’s agency for international aid and development) who would also like to see LGBTI-inclusive policies in their aid program.
* Getting in touch with Kath Merrifield of Uniting Mission and Education to encourage involvement and membership with the Safe Schools Coalition for LGBTI inclusiveness.
* Correspondence with Liam Leonard from La Trobe University, who presented his paper “Whose home? The support needs of newly arrived, refugee or asylum seeking LGBT young people” at Health in Difference, the National LGBTI Health Conference in August and was featured on the Gay News Network website.
* Rev. Dr. Margaret Mayman’s meeting and prayer gathering on 17th August with Warren Entsch MP and other Christian leaders from around Australia in support of marriage equality.
* A break-out group of the volunteers to start organising and promoting our involvement in Mardi Gras (float, Fair Day, and Refugee Forum).
* Any other agenda item suggestions are welcome.

The meeting will be in a room in Pilgrim House, 262 Pitt Street, Sydney, next to Pitt St UC (photo below) on the evening of Wednesday 23rd September from 5.00 PM.

Contact:
Keith G Gerrard
M: 0431 972 240

pilgrim

Uniting Network Australia says, ‘I do’ to marriage equality

Here you can find our statement to the members of the 14th Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia re: marriage equality. 

A Call for Marriage Equality 

Australia has undergone many changes in attitudes to sexuality and gender identity during the past forty years. The Uniting Church has been one part of those changes. With both joy and pain we wrestled with matters of human sexuality through much of the nineties and the naughties. We are more mature, united and respectful of diversity as a result. | Read more..

SMH | Marriage equality would be a victory for ordinary Christians

The Sydney Morning Herald
Marriage equality would be a victory for ordinary Christians
June 30, 2015
Margaret Mayman

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(Following their conscience: Emotions flow in Dublin as Ireland votes in favour of allowing same-sex marriage. Photo: Cathal McNaughton)

The recent decision to legalise marriage for same sex couples in Ireland has been cast as a victory against the Catholic Church. What secular commentators miss is that it was a decisive victory for ordinary Christians. | Read more…