Hello hello hello.
Today I marched in solidarity with Queensland women to speak out against injustices women experience in the local community and the world at large. After some speeches at King George Square, the march weaved its way through Brisbane’s City streets with chants aplenty; my favourite being “Get your rosaries off our ovaries!” After a few more speakers at Parliament House, we made our way to QUT for a relaxing afternoon of food, music, stalls and more speeches.
One of the stalls that initially appealed to me was one promoting Emily’s List. I asked what it was all about and the woman told me it was an organisation set up to support and mentor women to enter politics. “Fabulous!” I asked if it was apolitical and she said ‘No, it’s very political because it’s to get women into parliament’. That sounded a bit like she was dodging the subject therefore I then asked if it was party political to which I was told ‘Yes, it’s a Labor-run group, but anyone can join’ to which I thought “Fabulous!” At that point she introduced me to Emily’s List founder Senator Claire Moore and they started to talk about offering financial support to political candidates. I asked if non-Labor women received financial support. “No,” said Senator Moore. I then said “Oh what a shame!” and put the information papers back down on the table. Senator Moore then said “Well other parties can start their own groups”. I thought that was a really low blow and it left a pretty bad taste in my mouth. The Greens in Queensland have no men OR women at any level of government and therefore quite clearly have no financial capability to create such an organisation. Anyway, that comment really annoyed me. Yes, it was said defensively, but it almost felt offensive – and not at all in keeping with the spirit of the day.
Let’s hope Senator Moore was inspired today to encourage fellow Labor members both locally and federally to get rid of the abortion law once and for all. But no-one’s put up a new bill yet, so why would today be any different. And then people wonder why I don’t want to join the Labor party…
After that I gave a speech at the rally (some of which I stole from one of Juanita’s press releases) that went a bit like this:
I’m here today as a Queensland woman who, until experiencing mental anguish caused by a backward Howard Government and the frustration of a weak opposition government, had never felt it necessary to join in the fight for women’s rights.
I’m of a generation of young women that has been blessed to enjoy the fruits of the efforts of activists before me. I actually took it for granted that we were in a pretty good place.
I mean, in Queensland, how odd would it be to not have the right to vote. In Qld, how odd would it be to not have the right to work in whatever job you wish.
In Qld, how odd would it be to not have the right to maternity leave. In Qld, how odd would it be if you did not have the right to protect yourself from domestic violence.
In Qld, how odd would it be to not have the right to an abortion. Oh hang on, wait, women don’t have that right. Abortion is still a crime under the Queensland Act. HOW ODD.
I have a tremendous amount of respect for the achievements of the women’s movement and, as a Green, I’m eager to ensure women enjoy an even more progressive future.
That is why The Greens are calling for Abortion Laws to be removed from the Queensland Criminal Code.
Under these laws, as you have already heard today, abortion is unlawful except when it is performed to save a woman’s life, and prison sentences of 7 and 14 years can (technically) be imposed for breaching the law.
The laws, which are over 100 years old, do not represent the beliefs of the people of Queensland and must be changed.
Surveys increasingly demonstrate that these laws are out of step with community opinion.
The Australian Survey of Social Attitudes 2003 demonstrated that 81.2% of Australians, regardless of gender or religion believe that ‘women should have the right to choose an abortion’.
If the conservative politicians and religious zealots want to re-ignite the abortion debate (a debate I thought had been done and dusted), the Greens will damn well give it to them – and we are confident the vast majority of Queensland’s women will offer their full support.
The Beattie government needs to act immediately to remove abortion laws from the Criminal Code and bring Queensland laws into line with community opinion.
A social worker friend of mine didn’t even know abortion was illegal. That’s how commonplace and acceptable it’s considered in the ‘real world’.
All Queensland women deserve the right to choose without fear of persecution or prosecution.
The recent push by the conservative forces to once again question the right of women to make reproductive choices should be a sobering reminder to all.
The Queensland Greens would strongly and actively oppose any moves by any level of government to restrict women’s rights.
One hundred years ago women campaigned to gain the right to vote in Queensland – and I will certainly use that as inspiration when campaigning to preserve women’s rights one hundred years later.