Mar. 20, 2013 - Issue #909: Water Crisis
Sex penetrates Aussie politics
Political party aims to shake off prudish moralists
The Australian Sex Party sounds like something you wish you were invited to, but it's not that kind of party. It's a national political party and it's quickly gaining ground.
Although the name might make it sound like this party is just out for a good time, they are not joking. Their mission is to "restore the balance between sexual privacy and sexual publicity that has been severely distorted by morals campaigners and prudish politicians." Among its goals is the development of a national sex-education curriculum, legalization of same-sex marriage, the creation of laws to support the safety of sex-trade workers and the revision of labour laws to ensure equal treatment for women.
But could people ever take a group called the Sex Party seriously? Party agent Graeme Dunne says yes.
"Some voters say they can't take us seriously because of our name," he says. "However we feel that once people notice our name and review our policy platform, they do take the Sex Party as a very serious party. I think that those who say they don't like our name don't like our policies either, so I don't think we actually lose many votes based on our name."
It appears that he's right. The Sex Party is only four years old and already has 5500 members, which Dunne says is quite large for a minor party in Australia. In its few years of existence, the Sex Party hasn't just been campaigning, it's been lobbying for the changes it has outlined in its policies—and it's getting results.
"While we are yet to get a member elected to Parliament, we believe the Sex Party has been influential in three important recent policy or legislative changes in Australia." Dunne says. "These are the establishment of a Royal Commission into child sexual abuse, the withdrawal of the compulsory Internet filter legislation and the creation of an R18+ category for video games. We don't claim all the credit for these three important changes, but we believe our policies enabled debate on these matters and that by taking a strong stand in many policy areas we give other political parties and elected politicians the permission to address these matters on a more open and candid basis."
A commission to investigate institutional responses to child sexual abuse and recommend reforms has been discussed in Australia for years, but mounting pressure, including the lobbying efforts of the Sex Party, finally pushed Prime Minister Julia Gillard to make it a reality just this past January. Sex Party leader Fiona Patten's vocal opposition helped to defeat the proposed Internet filter that would have blocked access to any content that would be refused classification in Australia, including a lot of mainstream adult sites.
Dunne believes that these efforts have proven that the Sex Party is real and ready to work hard. He's hopeful for the election coming up later this year.
"Fiona Patten has developed a relatively high public and media profile for the leader of a minor party and for most people, including journalists, the name now just slips off the tongue," he says. "[She] has a very good chance to be elected as a Senator representing the state of Victoria." V
Brenda Kerber is a sexual health educator who has worked with local not-for-profits since 1995. She is the owner of the Edmonton-based, sex-positive adult toy boutique the Traveling Tickle Trunk.
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