Aside

An Open Letter To Queensland Premier Campbell Newman

Dr George and his great grandfather Premier William Forgan Smith

Dear Premier Newman,

Today I am sitting at my computer in shock. I’m shocked to see the news that the recognition of homosexual civil unions has now be relegated to a mere “registration”, akin to registering a dog or a trailer for the car.

Just under 6 months ago on the 30th of November, Queensland Parliament took clear affirmative action with the passing of the Civil Partnership Act 2011. On its passing, the then premier Anna Bligh stated:

“This bill is fundamentally about the human rights of Queensland’s citizens, but it is much more than that. It is about the joyful business of love and that is why it has touched the hearts of so many Australians, why so many people believe that Australia should be dealing with this issue.”

All Australians should have the fundamental right to express their love, to express their devotion, and most importantly, to have access to the same rights under the law afforded to heterosexual couples Australia wide.

The dilution of The Civil Partnership Act from a strong affirmation of equality for homosexuals to a tokenistic concession is saddening. Most distressing to me is the constant press attention highlighting that this action happened reactively to appease Christian lobby groups.

This sickens me to the core on so many levels, not the least that I am the direct descendant of William Forgan Smith, Premier of Queensland from 1932 to 1942. A man noted for his devotion to all citizens of Queensland.

While history has noted Premier Forgan Smith had introduced some controversial legislations, his actions were always from a position of ensuring the best for his constituents and Queensland as a whole. He did not bow to the pressures of fundamentalism; his aim was to make Queensland the leading state of Australia.

After his self resignation as premier he left a strong legacy behind. The Story Bridge, Somerset Dam and the upgrade of Mackay’s harbour are all examples of the long lasting impact his premiership had on Queensland.

His involvement in the nurturing of the University of Queensland helped ensure schools of dentistry, veterinary science and medicine placed Queensland as a leader in education. I am proud to say I graduated from this very university. Indeed I have sat in many lectures in the Forgan Smith building, proud to know that my great grandfather was driving force to creating of a coordinated Queensland health system.

Premier Newman, what may I ask will be your legacy?

Is it your destiny to forge change in your state that will be present for centuries to come? Or will your record include sad examples of discrimination and subjugation of particular members of your state after being lobbied by interest groups better aligned to your next election?

Mr Newman, I am sad to say I will never return to Queensland under your reign. As long as my brothers and sisters are treated no better than a pet or a head of cattle, I can never return to Queensland.

I urge you to take a stand on your own feet. Not a wonky platform hobbled together by factions using you as their spokesperson for homophobic values. The action of the Queensland Government yesterday has been a stab in the heart for me and for many of my non-heterosexual peers.

Listen to your heart, listen to your citizens and remember that homosexuals also vote.

Dr George Forgan-Smith.

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