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We need to say once and for all: homophobia and sexism are not the Australian way.

Sen. Waters at a protest.

By SENATOR LARISSA WATERS

One of the best things about being a politician is being able to throw your support behind worthy causes.

It really disappoints me that some politicians would abuse that privilege to support harmful, prejudiced ideas instead.

It’s unacceptable for the Abbott government’s Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews to be opening the World Congress of Families (WCF) conference in Melbourne on Saturday.

And the Australian Senate agrees with me.

Today the Senate passed my motion calling on all politicians to boycott this anti-gay, anti-choice conference that spreads discredited harmful myths, including that abortion causes breast cancer.

If Minister Andrews and other right-wing politicians intent on attending the conference won’t listen to the Senate, they should at the very least listen to the overwhelming public opposition to the WCF.

Senator Larissa Waters

But Minister Andrews seems to want to block out the community’s protests instead, as evidenced at Parliament House today.

Today Minister Andrews refused an invitation to accept a large photo album of diverse family photos submitted by hundreds of Australians, opposed to the Congress’ discriminatory view of what a family should look like.

The Minister needs to start listening to the community in all of its wonderful diversity and realise that Australians value love and equality, not prejudice and bigotry.

I’m so proud of the way so many Australians have made their voices heard on this issue, which has resulted in Melbourne venues refusing to take the conference on.

It couldn’t be clearer that the WCF’s homophobic, sexist, anti-choice views are not the Australian way.

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As explained by Vocal Majority’s Melanie Poole on Mamamia this week, in many countries, the WCF campaigns against women having abortions even when their lives are at risk.

The WCF’s influence has seen LGBTIQ people across the world criminalised and even murdered.

The Congress perpetuates completely unfounded and harmful myths, including that abortion causes breast cancer and that women who use the pill are more likely to be victims of violence.

This behaviour is unforgivable and causes so much horror all for the sake of pushing prejudiced anti-choice, anti-gay, sexist ideas.

Sen Waters at a WCF protest.

It must not be accepted, let alone legitimised by Australian politicians supporting the WCF.

Sadly, Abbott Government ministers, including Kevin Andrews and Eric Abetz, seem to be trying to trample over our rights and freedoms, with their 1950s views.

They’re trying to take us backward when we still have so far to go in securing rights and freedoms for women and LGBTIQ people both in Australia and internationally.

In Australia, we still have not legalised equal marriage and abortion is still a crime in some states.

With more work to be done fighting for equality and autonomy, it’s all the more important that we stand together against any moves to erode hard-won progress.

It’s wonderful that that is exactly what we’ve managed to do when faced with the WCF campaigning in Australia.

Senator Larissa Waters is the Australian Greens spokesperson for women. 

Sign Mamamia’s petition calling for Australian politicians not to attend the conference here.

Tags: australian-politics , politics , women
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