Please Minister, Focus on Families, All Kinds of Families
28 August 2014 at 9:55 am
All Australians should be profoundly disappointed Tony Abbott’s Minister for Families Kevin Andrews is lending such strong endorsement to a conference in Melbourne this week which has such a narrow and outdated view of what Australian families look like in 2014.
Minister Andrews is both opening and closing the World Congress of Families Conference which has attracted a who’s who of conservative and doctrinaire organisations and individuals spouting discredited views such as a link between breast cancer and abortion.
The Minister insists he is attending this conference because it is about families and this relates to his portfolio. The problem is, his public acknowledgement of the event means he is endorsing views which are hurtful and directly abusive to many families.
If he supports the ideas of the key speakers around homosexuality as a disease, the outrage against gay parents, and the links between abortion and breast cancer, then he should make the statement, rather than hide behind his ministerial invitation.
Our community is strong and diverse and families reflect this diversity. There is no standard shape, size or pattern, and they all deserve respect. Step-parent families, sole parent families, extended families, same sex couple families, grandparent carers, families with surrogate, adopted or fostered children. This is not a complete list, but reflects people in my own community, especially the vibrant city of Brisbane, who are living and working together. Any concept that that they should be labelled as ‘deviant’ must be rejected.
The World Congress of Families has the right to run whatever conference it likes, to promote speakers who challenge science, proclaim the sanctity of the ‘natural’ family, which is the ‘bulwark of liberty and the key to development, prosperity and peace’, but should the featured speakers, publicised in the organisation’s international newsletter include our Minister for Families in his official capacity?
Surely, Mr Andrews has the responsibility to represent the community, and to reflect the legal position in our nation. The World Congress of Families rejects homosexuality, which is legal in Australia, and while publicly proclaiming that it does not promote hate, certainly attacks the behaviours and the threats to young people of the ‘lifestyle’.
Prominent on the World Congress website, is the direct health warnings about abortion and its impact on women, increased links to breast cancer, hypertension and mental illness. These claims have been widely dismissed by Health experts across the world, including the Australian Medical Association, but the Congress and it supporters continue to raise their ‘scientific’ arguments.
Regrettably we don’t have a federal minister for science, but surely there is a need for some real evidence before the fear element takes over completely and our families and social services minister is featured on the programme.
I support free speech, freedom of association and the mature ability to discuss sensitive issues. The Congress does not respect difference. There is no doubt about what it opposes from homosexuality to bathrooms and showers open to both sexes. It draws support from a range of organisations and individuals, including politicians.
I call on Kevin Andrews to think again about his recruitment to this far-right movement. He should be governing for all families by listening to where the community stands on these issues, instead of endorsing an event so captive to extreme and non-representative views.
About the author: Claire Moore is a Queensland Senator and Shadow Minister for Women, Communities and Carers and the Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate.
Post Script: The Minister for Social Services Kevin Andrews has defended his attendance at the conference claiming it is about families, which relates to his portfolio, and his attendance at the conference does not necessarily mean he supports the views of all its speakers.