Over two hundred students from across Australia converged on Melbourne University last week for the annual Queer Collaborations conference, this year themed ‘Freedoms are Won, Not Given’.

The conference heard from Gay Liberation activists Liz Ross and Jeremy Fisher, queer historian Lucy Chesser, and indigenous activist Robbie Thorpe, among others. Workshops focused around building the campaign for same-sex marriage and ending homophobia in education, as well as linking up with the campaign against the Northern Territory intervention and the G20 Arrestee Solidarity campaign.

The conference, organised out of the National Union of Students Queer Department and the Melbourne University Queer Collective, was the most well-attended in several years. The implementation of Voluntary Student Unionism (VSU) by the Coalition-government has severely hampered the ability of student unions to organise and fightback against regressive government legislation. But by organising the conference on a political basis and linking up with ongoing campaigns, the conference attracted a broad audience of student activists in a difficult climate.

The conference voted to support the campaign to repeal the ban on same-sex marriage, and to continue to demand the repeal of the Voluntary Student Unionism legislation, and took to the streets to demand action on these issues on the Thursday of the conference. Students marched from Melbourne University into local Labor MPs Lindsay Tanner’s office to demand an end to Howard’s homophobic, anti-union legacy.

Fighting for Queer rights outside the office of Lindsay Tanner

Marching through the streets of Melbourne for Queer Rights

The campaign will continue with the National Day of Action for same-sex marriage on August 3rd/10th (depending on city), so far endorsed by some supportive unions, community organisations and activist groups.

– Amy Thomas

Get involved in the National Day of Action in your city:

Brisbane
Sunday August 10th, 1pm, Queens Park (corner of George and Elizabeth Streets, Brisbane City)
RALLY AND MARCH
Demand:
– Marriage and civil unions now!
– Stop homophobia in schools!
– Make Rudd deliver on repeal of 100 discriminatory laws!

For more info, contact Susan on 0415 154 555

Sydney
Sunday August 3rd, 1pm Taylor Square, Oxford St, Darlinghurst
Rachel on 0403 798 420

Canberra
Farida on 0412 109 160

Melbourne
James on 0412 906 978

Perth
Emma on 0416 436 399

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