Serge’s Column

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Hello again, dear readers.

When I accepted the offer to write this column, I never really thought about the impact it would have. I am thrilled that it is starting conversations and that people whom I have never met before come up in the street and talk to me about what I have written since starting the column. Thank you again for your feedback. And don’t hesitate to approach me, even when I am having a coffee in one of my favorite places.

Last month, I was encouraging readers to participate in the discussions about the consultation draft St Kilda Triangle: Towards a Shared Vision that will go on until 20th of July. As I explained last month, this is just a vision, a set of ideas that will, hopefully, be a guide for any future development on the site. It does not set out exactly what will go on the site or who will pay for it. Before we get to that stage, we need to get the basics right, and this is what we are asking people to tell us.

To me, the Palais Theatre is the most important element when considering how the area might be developed, and should probably be the starting point. I’d like to see it as an important part of cultural life in Melbourne. To do that, it needs to be financially viable. I believe that the right kind of development – one that would include the best architectural design we can get – would help that.

But that’s my point of view. Now, we at the Council need yours. So, please take part in our consultation. The process may be slow, but I am confident that we will get there in the end.

Another topic now: that of same-sex marriage and the play 8, by Dustin Lance Black, in particular. Black’s play is very powerful. The LA Times describes it as “…a dramatization of the 2010 court case Perry vs. Schwarzenegger, which challenged the legality of Proposition 8, the ballot measure banning same-sex marriage in California.” The play was performed at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne recently for a one-night -only benefit performance, which was a total sellout.

In the USA, the play starred George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Kevin Bacon. This Australian production had Rachel Griffiths, Magda Szubanski, Spencer McLaren, Daniel MacPherson, Catherine McClements and Lisa McCune: all of whom either live in St Kilda or have done so. We can be proud of the message that the people of St Kilda are giving to the rest of Australia in support of marriage equality.

I found it a very moving piece; one that I am sure opened the eyes of many people on the night about this topic. As Rodney Croome and Pastor Carolyn Francis said at the forum after the play: “This is all about love.” And, I would argue, the constitutional right of every Australian to be treated equally. It is a matter of natural justice, which can only be of benefit to all of society.

We know that the feeling of social exclusion and inequality that this kind of prejudice towards same-sex-marriage has a detrimental effect on people psychologically. Take, for instance the evidence of organizations such as Headspace, the Australian National Mental Health Foundation, which argues that there is a very strong link between the feeling of inequality and stigma and poor mental health in young people who are attracted to the same sex.

It’s a pity that the play won’t be put on for general release. It might persuade politicians like Julia Gillard and Tony Abbot to change their minds about same-sex marriage – or at least encourage Tony Abbot to give his colleagues a conscience vote on the matter.

I know marriage equality is not a matter of if, but when. I say, the sooner the better, so we can move on. Until next month!







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