Vote 1 The Sex Party, Says Melissa Star
By Melissa Star:
Michael Danby, the ALP member for Melbourne Ports recently created two different how to vote cards to “respect a minority group, the Orthodox Jewish supporters, who [he believes] would not like to preference the Sex Party at number two.”
I’m Melissa Star, the Sex Party’s candidate for Melbourne Ports. I’m a Jewish woman with an Orthodox background and I was observant for many years. I’m a member of Shira Hadasha and spoke in shule on Friday night about why you should Vote 1 Sex Party in both the Lower House and the Senate.
The Sex Party is both economically responsible and socially progressive, and like Yesh Atid in Israel we’d like to increase the separation between religion and government. We’ve grown very quickly, with 52 candidates across the entire nation, including 29 for the Victorian lower house.
One of the reasons we’re called the “Sex Party” is to end the climate of silence, shame, stigma, and ignorance about sex and sex-related issues. Party president Fiona Patten played a key role in bringing about the Royal Commission into Child Sex Abuse. Part of the change we want to create is to institute an age appropriate sex education curriculum in every Australian school to make sure that our kids are safe.
- Regardless of one’s viewpoint about gay and lesbian issues and gender diversity, I believe we wall want our kids to have a happy childhood, which is why this curriculum should send the message that all kids must be safe from social and physical violence and from ostracism.
Moving to another key issue, we believe that genuine charity work should be tax exempt, but the for-profit businesses owned by religious institutions should pay their fair share. Much of the $20 billion of religious tax exemptions every year could be better spent to balance the budget and make a strong economy, or to improve our nation’s infrastructure.
There is also the issue of drugs. Over a third of Australians have smoked marijuana and billions of dollars every year are going to drug dealers and to organised crime. The war on drugs has failed, just as prohibition of alcohol did in America last century. We want to try a different approach where we legalise, regulate and tax marijuana as is done with tobacco and alcohol.
I believe that the parents, friends, and family of people struggling with drug addiction want their loved ones to get medical treatment and to survive, not to run from police, be afraid to see doctors, and risk getting a criminal record that could greatly limit their future.
We believe, based on international evidence, that decriminalisation won’t increase the number of people who take drugs, but that it will greatly reduce the number of people who die as a consequence.
I’m a strong believer in marriage equality, having personally experienced the pain that sex and gender diverse people go through when our relationships are stigmatised and ignored. It’s particularly bad if you come from a religious background and were brought up from childhood to believe your future involves marriage and children with your one true love.
Of course this doesn’t have any bearing on Halacha but do we really want to use Halacha as a basis for the laws of our multi-cultural secular nation or to impose a marriage ban on another minority group of Australians? If the Orthodox community would like secular Australians to respect its freedom, surely it should reciprocate.
I make the same argument for voluntary euthanasia, another of our policies. The existence of voluntary euthanasia laws won’t make a terminally ill Orthodox Jew take her or his own life, but it could cause people to wait longer knowing that the pain does in fact have an “off switch” if and when it becomes completely unbearable.
I’ll end this article by making clear that I am a friend to the State of Israel, and that I would never be part of any political party that has policies that would endanger the nation’s survival. I dream of a future, as distant as it may be, in which nationalist and religious fundamentalism is no longer present in the middle east, or in Australia, and that people with diverse beliefs and views can live together in happiness and in peace.
Shira Hadasha has asked me to clarify that the shul does not endorse any political candidate or party. It has also provided opportunities to other candidates in Melbourne Ports to take questions from members and speak about their party’s policies.