How we feel about sexuality on the Sunshine Coast

20th May 2017 5:00 AM

SEXUALITY SERIES: The way we see each other - who we are and who we love - is changing.

Through a four-part series in collaboration with the University of the Sunshine Coast, the Daily is exploring sexuality, gender and politics in the Sunshine Coast region.

In this final instalment, we go to the politicians and the people to find out how the Sunshine Coast feels about same-sex marriage, Safe Schools and more.


PART ONE: A life more ordinary?: Bill Darby on coming out on the Coast

PART TWO: Why this Coast man could no longer live as a woman

PART THREE: Teens face 'degrading' sites as Safe Schools shelved

PART FOUR: How we feel about sexuality on the Sunshine Coast

A DEBATE still rages around the concept of same-sex marriage on the Sunshine Coast and it remains off the cards in Australia, at least for now.

The conservative political landscape on the Sunshine Coast is reflected in the firm positions on sexuality and gender held by key local politicians.

The Sunshine Coast Daily has reached out to MPs and residents to sample the region's views on the topic.

The questions were asked for this report, the final in a four-part series examining gender and sexuality on the Sunshine Coast.

TIME OUT: Fiona Simpson has decided to look afterher elderly Dad.
Maroochydore MP Fiona Simpson on same-sex marriage: "I support marriage being between a man and a woman as the most stable foundation for the family in society". John McCutcheon

LNP Member for Maroochydore Fiona Simpson said she had spoken publicly on the matter in the past, and had not changed her views.

"I support marriage being between a man and a woman as the most stable foundation for the family in society," she said.

"Civil unions are provided in law for those who are in permanent relationships outside of marriage."

In a speech she gave to State Parliament in 2002, Ms Simpson supported gay "reparative therapy", a widely discredited treatment that attempts to change a person's sexual orientation. She also suggested homosexuals could "grow into heterosexuality".

Llew O'Brien - federal coalition candidate for Wide Bay.Photo: Alistair Brightman / Fraser Coast Chronicle
Llew O'Brien said he is "opposed to all forms of intolerance and discrimination" but when asked, would not give his personal view on same-sex marriage. Alistair Brightman

LNP Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien said people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect no matter what side of the argument they stand on.

"I believe in the freedom of the individual and I am opposed to all forms of intolerance and discrimination," he said.

"I remain committed to that position because I understand and respect that people on both sides of the debate have strong feelings about the issue and deserve to have their voices heard and the freedom to vote according to their own beliefs."

He declined to give his personal view on the matter.

At the last election, Mr O'Brien said he would support a plebiscite so Australians had the freedom to legally define marriage.

"I have consistently said that I would respect the decision of the people and vote in accordance with the outcome of the plebiscite and my position has not changed," he said.


PAULINE Hanson's One Nation Party has a new Queensland leader, with the Senator promoting new recruit and Buderim MP Steve Dickson to the top job.
Buderim MP and One Nation's Queensland leader Steve Dickson declined to discuss same sex marriage, describing it as an issue for the Federal Government. Patrick Woods

Buderim MP and Queensland One Nation leader Steve Dickson said it was an issue for the Federal Government.

His party has an official stance on same-sex marriage.

It states: "if a referendum is not held to clearly define the word marriage and change the Australian Constitution, then a plebiscite, that is a vote on an important public question making no change to our Constitution, should be held".

The introduction of Safe Schools Coalition has also created a hot topic of discussion over recent years.

Mr O'Brien said position on Safe Schools was that schools should be places that encourages learning and development in a safe environment free from bullying, prejudice and limiting a child's potential.

"School communities should encourage all students to be confident, respectful and tolerant," he said.

Ms Simpson said "some of the material used is age-inappropriate and goes beyond its stated aims as an anti-bullying program".

Local MPs Ted O'Brien, Andrew Wallace and Peter Wellington were also contacted but did not respond for comment.

As part of month-long project, the Daily interviewed Caloundra business leader Bill Darby about his life as a gay man on the Coast, a man's new life after his "transition" from womanhood, and a gay Cooroy teenager's views on the controversial Safe Schools program.

Sunshine Coast residents too were keen to share their views.

On Bill Darby's discussion of his sexuality Mark Davidson said the businessman was a mentor to him growing up as a young gay man on the Coast.

"Someone to look up to and someone that taught me you create your own success in life no matter your sexuality," he wrote on Facebook.

Tourism leader Bill Darby discusses his sexuality for the first time on the Sunshine Coast.
Tourism leader Bill Darby discusses his sexuality for the first time on the Sunshine Coast. Patrick Woods

Philip Hart said Mr Darby was an inspiration to all regardless of his sexuality.

"You are a great man Bill, sexuality has nothing to do with integrity, a great business and community leader," he wrote.

Mr Darby said via Facebook he was grateful for the support and appreciated the comments the story had produced.

A week later when Bastion Nunez spoke openly about his journey towards manhood Julia Griffin wished him well on his journey.

"Good on you ... people spend their entire lives not being true to themselves, love and light on your journey," she said.

Bastion Nunez:
Bastion Nunez:

Finally, we took our questions to the streets.

Diddillibah resident Mary-Christine Brammah said she thought gay marriage was inevitable and should be allowed, even she was unhappy with the use of "marriage".

"I am not overly keen on the word marriage because of, I guess, religious background growing up and my beliefs now, but there's no reason on earth why they shouldn't share an equal relationship as everybody else," she said.

Beerwah man Ravi Sharma said the gay marriage debate was very similar to interracial marriage equality in the past.

"I think everyone is entitled to get married, I think race, gender and religion don't really come into it and I'm married to a white woman if that makes any difference," he said.

"I know that I've had family say 30 to 40 years ago go through that same issue with interracial marriage.

"The frustrating part is it appears a lot of those arguments that have been used against marriage equality are the same that we used for my family, historically, to say a black man can't get married to a white woman

"So those arguments just don't hold up over time, we need to move on from this."