Interview with Phil Browne / Marriage Equality Advocate

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As I walked down Queen Street Mall I bumped into a man, his name was Phil. We looked at each other. He looked familiar so I asked, “do we know each other?”  He nor I could figure it out but it didn’t matter because we became friends in that moment. We continued walking and talking until we saw a lady who had slipped from the rain and was in pain. She could not move. With his training Phil went and assisted her until the paramedics arrived. This was my first encounter with Phil.

Later I found out he is an active advocate for marriage equality. This is the interview about his advocating.

What motivated you to advocate?

I have been an equal rights advocate for several years now. I don’t like seeing injustice and when I see LGBT citizens being given inferior rights, this motivates me to take action.

What is your most notable achievement to date?

We began a residents LGBT action group and have been in talks with Brisbane City Council. As a result of our lobbying, they agreed to appoint an LGBT representative to a Council advisory board – a first for Brisbane City Council.

You have been talking to people about the Marriage Equality Bill, asking them to write to their MPs and Senators. With Federal Parliament preparing to vote on the Marriage Equality Bill, why is it important for people to express their views to the government?

Polls suggest that 64% of Australians support marriage equality, but sadly, our politicians are dragging their feet. Especially Coalition MPs, who are denied a conscience vote.

Our opponents including churches, some family groups and the ACL; are strenuously lobbying against equality. They’re flooding MPs with requests not to amend the federal Marriage Act. Every one of us needs to speak up if politicians are to hear our side of the story, too. Parliament will vote on the Marriage Equality Bill next month – so the time to act is NOW.

What other actions are worth taking to make marriage equality a reality?

Click here for some quick and easy ways of getting your message across. Every action really does make a difference.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

I’ve had some great tips from supportive politicians that have made a huge difference to my lobbying. For example, who to contact and what to say are really important, to help guide you and to know that your efforts are not misdirected or wasted.

Who are your role models?

Nelson Mandela – South African politician and strong anti-apartheid advocate, who was jailed for 27 years. Upon his release, he went on to become the greatly admired President of South Africa, leading to the overturning of apartheid.

Rosa Parks – the negro woman who, in 1955 in Southern America, refused to comply with the policy of segregating black and white bus passengers. Her refusal to give up her seat to a white person led to court action which eventually overturned this discriminatory law. She became known as “The First Lady Of Civil Rights”.

How can people support the work you are doing?

Once you know what to do and how to do it, action is easy.

I’ll be running a workshop as part of Brisbane Pride Festival, where I will answer all the questions you have. The workshop will also give people information on how to lobby effectively.

FREE WORKSHOP:  HOW TO ACHIEVE LGBT LAW REFORMS

This informal discussion aims at sharing tips and answering these questions:

  • What do you want to change?
  • Who do you need to speak to?
  • What should you say to your senators?
  • How do you tap into existing lobby groups?
  • How does government work?
  • And how can I understand the three levels of government (local, state and federal)?
  • Find out why it is so wrong that the Queensland government has an overwhelming majority in a Parliament with no Upper House.

Equal Rights advocates will discuss what they have learned from politicians and other advocates. I’d love to hear your questions and comments and give you the opportunity to have your say.

For more information, take a look at Fact Sheets and Overview of Parliament And Government.

Everyone is welcome. Entry is free.
Venue: Healthy Communities, 30 Helen St, Tenerife.
Date: Wednesday 12 September, 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM

More info can be found on the Brisbane Pride Festival website.