New Zealanders rally in support of Muslim community as government takes action
- Some 15,000 people attended a rally in Christchurch to honor the memory of the 50 who died in the recent terror attacks.
- The country’s chief censor issued a ban on the attacker’s manifesto, classifying the document in the same way as other terroristic propaganda such as Islamic State materials.
- More than 1,000 voluntarily turned in their weapons as the government moved to ban military-style semiautomatic weapons, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announcing she expects legislation to be in place by mid-April.
“Thousands attend New Zealand vigil, rally to fight racism, remember Christchurch victims” (Reuters | March 2019)
“Censor bans ‘manifesto’ of Christchurch mosque shooter” (The Guardian | March 2019)
“Christchurch shootings: New Zealand to ban military style weapons” (BBC News | March 2019)
Terrorist attack on two Christchurch mosques leaves more than four dozen dead
- A gunman opened fire in the Masjid Al Noor mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, killing at least 49 and injuring 48 in the worst mass shooting in New Zealand history.
- In addition to livestreaming one of the attacks on Facebook, the attacker posted a manifesto online in which he declared far-right, anti-immigrant, white-supremacist views.
- The gunman was arrested along with three other suspects, and officials advised community members to avoid visiting mosques in the aftermath of the attack.
“Christchurch mosque shootings: What you need to know” (The New Zealand Herald | March 2019)
“New Zealand PM: Dozens killed in ‘terrorist’ attack on mosques” (Al Jazeera | March 2019)
“49 shot dead in attack on two Christchurch mosques” (The Guardian | March 2019)
United for Christchurch Mosque Shootings (crowdfunding campaign)
The Federation of Islamic Associations in New Zealand (FIAZ)
Australian Parliament legalizes same-sex marriage following postal referendum
- With a near-unanimous vote, the House of Representatives voted to amend the Marriage Act to remove the barrier to marriage rights for same-sex couples, following a similar vote in the Senate.
- A postal referendum, the result of a controversial decision by the Tony Abbott–led government in 2015 to put the marriage right question to popular referendum, returned 61.6% of Australians voting in favor of removing orientation-based discrimination in marriage law.
- The Marriage Act had been amended in 2004 to deny same-sex couples the legal right to marriage.
“Marriage equality law passes Australia’s parliament in landslide vote” (The Guardian | December 2017)
“Same-sex marriage legalised in Australia as Parliament passes historic law” (The Sydney Morning Herald | December 2017)
“Same-sex marriage: First weddings take place in Melbourne, Sydney” (ABC News | December 2017)
Indigenous leaders in Australia seek formal legal and political representation with government
- More than 250 Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander leaders met in Uluru to discuss political recognition, agreeing formal treaties were necessary beyond proposed symbolic representation in the constitution.
- The government issued an apology for historical injustices in 2008, although community leaders and activists have sought legal commitments to reparative measures beyond symbolism.
- The push is likely to face strong opposition as the Australian Constitution has only been amended eight times in 44 attempts in its 116-year history.
“Uluru talks: Indigenous Australians reject ‘symbolic’ recognition in favour of treaty” (The Guardian | May 2017)
“Australia’s Aborigines seek treaties in drive for more than symbolic change” (Reuters | May 2017)
“Why doesn’t Australia have an indigenous treaty?” (BBC News | May 2017)
The Australian Constitution
(Image Credit: Calla Wahlquist/The Guardian)
Australia’s “Stolen Generation” Speaks
For six decades across the 20th century, the Australian government pursued a ruthless policy of the forced assimilation of its indigenous population, tearing mixed-race children from their communities and creating “stolen generations” deprived of access to the culture of their aboriginal roots. The policy, similar to those pursued in Canada and the U.S., forced children into boarding schools, church missions, and adoptions to erase connections to their communities. Canadian photographer Matthew Sherwood has documented the stories of those in the Northern Territory through his photo series Generations Stolen, profiled in The New York Times.
“Australia’s ‘Stolen Generations’ Tell Their Stories” (The New York Times | May 2017)
The Fight for Indigenous Equality, from Australia to Canada
As increased attention to negative outcomes in indigenous communities has pushed their governments to address racial disparities, Australian and Canadian indigenous advocates have drawn attention to the markedly similar ways in which English settler colonialism and systemic racial inequality unfolded in their countries. In both countries, indigenous peoples make up at least a quarter of the prison population, 40% of incarcerated children, and half of those in the child welfare system. Similar policies of forced family dissolution, detention, and delayed dismantlement of legal inequality have pushed advocates an ocean apart to come up with comparative solutions to the persistent indigenous/non-indigenous gap in their countries.
“‘It’s the same story’: How Australia and Canada are twinning on bad outcomes for Indigenous people” (The Guardian | April 2017)
(Image Credit: Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images, via The Guardian)
South Australia approves bill to recognize same-sex partnerships
- The South Australia Legislative Council approved a bill to establish a relationship registry for same-sex couples in the state and recognize overseas same-sex marriages, including of Australian nationals who travel to New Zealand to be married.
- The new law will allow same-sex couples to enjoy some of the partnership rights of opposite-sex couples, including recognition of next-of-kin status, and introduces protections for intersex people.
- The bill followed the death of British national David Bulmer-Rizzi on honeymoon in South Australia, which prompted international outcry after his marriage to his husband Marco went unrecognized for end-of-life decisions and on the death certificate issued.
“South Australia Has Passed A Law Recognising Same-Sex Relationships After Honeymoon Death” (BuzzFeed News)
“Marco Bulmer-Rizzi welcomes relationships register bill passing SA parliament” (ABC News)
“Premier Jay Weatherill makes apology in Parliament for past LGBTIQ discrimination” (news.com.au)
“This British Man’s Husband Died On Honeymoon But Australia Refuses To Recognise Their Marriage” (BuzzFeed News)
(Image Credit: Facebook, via BuzzFeed News)