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I would like to welcome Teegan Fox to Harlots as an author. Teegan has kindly forwarded an interview she recently did with Fiona Patten of the Australian Sex party. Possibly it is time for a new sex worker movement here in the UK and if this is the case then why not a political party that fights for our civil liberties?
During the vote count the Sex Party were “neck and neck” with the Family First Party for the fourth place in the national Senate vote. The party “outpolled several more prominent minor parties and came within about 10,000 votes of Family First for the Senate in Victoria”.
After the party’s first federal election contest, Fiona Patten leader of the Australian Sex Party claimed that the Sex Party was “now the major minor party in Australian politics”:
Fiona Patten is the President of the Australian Sex Party and she has very kindly answered a few questions.
Many thanks for taking the time out to answer these questions.
1) What does the Australian Sex Party stand for?
Fundamentally we are a civil liberties party but we also stand for less government in our lives and businesses
2) How does it feel to be the major minor party in Australia?
It is pretty exciting to have had such a great response in such a short time. In Australia politics have been moving further and further to the right. The Christian Lobby is proving very powerful and I think Australians are now looking for an alternative voice.
3) You are a political party which has no past, no tried and tested candidates and I can only assume a handful of staff and volunteers. How did you manage to get your message across?
Having sex in your name is certainly an advantage to getting attention. We did have some great dedicated candidates, volunteers and staff. Being a new party with no past we were not afraid to promote ourselves where no one else would go! For example adult shops all over Australia plastered their windows with party promotions. Brothel waiting rooms had our posters and a whole range of adult mags and websites gave us some space.
We also did some really fun mob promotions in bars, queer events and nightclubs.
Bright yellow tshirts with the word sex emblazoned on the front does get attention wherever you go.
We are of course always looking for volunteers and possible candidates so if any of the readers are interested feel free to contact me!
4) What policies can you as a minor party affect or change?
Quite often we can be the voice that goes “hang on a second”….. Most politicians I have dealt with are scared stiff of discussing anything sexual, especially the sex industry. Most of them are men and if they speak in favour of, for example, sex work or sexual media they feel that they are assumed to be clients and customers. We are not afraid to raise sexual issues and have frank conversations about them. While a lot of civil liberty issues like voluntary euthanasia are conscience issues for most parties, for us they are policy.
5) What is the proposed Censorship and Internet filter, and how will that affect the sex workers industry in Australia?
What is it? It is a really bad idea! Basically the Australian government is proposing to keep a blacklist (secret) of websites that breach the Australian Classification Act. Any site that features or promotes any fetish behaviour would be deemed in breach and therefore could be blacklisted. The result of this is that all Australian ISPs would have to block Australians accessing that site. They say that it is to filter child porn but, hello, child porn is already illegal and is rarely found on www sites.
6) Equal Rights and Equal Love for everyone. What is the status at present in Australia, and how do you propose to improve that?
It is outrageous that any Australian law discriminates against a person on the grounds of their sexuality. We would work to ensure that all laws are amended to end this discrimination. (Check out our policy page for more info)
7) The debate prior to the election with Family First was excellent. How did you feel after the debate?
Frankly a bit shell shocked. After the debate Wendy Francis came up to me smiling saying how lovely it was to meet! But we were very fortunate to have had the opportunity to get onto prime time TV and give a little information about some of our policies. Most Australians had heard of Family First but most had not heard of us and overall the feedback was very good. I think Wendy is still claiming victory.
8) What are your policies to protect sex workers rights for both Australians and visitors?
To enact national anti discrimination laws which make it illegal to unfairly discriminate against people or companies on the basis of job, occupation, profession or calling. (more info on this is on our website http://www.sexparty.org.au/index.php/news/asp-news-a-updates/876
Abolish sex slavery and sexual servitude by introducing non morality-based immigration policies that allow bona-fide sex workers to work legally in Australia.
Give sex workers’ access to fair visas so that they can enjoy human rights while they are working in Australia.
Prevent human trafficking by granting sex workers the same human rights as other workers in Australia – decriminalize sex work and allow sex workers to travel here.
Ensure trafficking is a crime in Australia; sex work is not. It is legal for sex workers from other countries to travel here for work. It is not legal to exploit them while they are here.
9) How have the major religious groups reacted to your party and policies?
They have been great! I mean if it wasn’t for them we would not have received nearly the same amount of media attention. In the beginning they submitted objections and appeals to our registration.
Now, they are pressuring the major parties to exclude us in any preference deals in the election but they have been largely ignored. Although this is difficult as the major parties have a lot of links with religious orgs or provide a lot of support.
10) Politics and sex scandal often go together, where the private lives of politicians are broadcast to undermine them, due to their contradiction mainly. Why is there a contradiction of personal life with policy?
Why do politicians and campaigners feel the need to dictate and control the sex lives of others?
Who knows?? But hypocrisy has its price!
Fortunately in the Sex Party we have no skeletons in the closet we are all out of the closet. In the federal election nearly half of our candidates were gay or lesbian and nearly a quarter had worked or do work in the sex industry.
11) Would you support a politician that was “outed” in some way due to their “controversial” but private sex habits?
No I don’t support outing but …. It does piss me off when some politicians are so very hypocritical.
12) You are basically a Civil Liberties party, so why use the word “Sex” in your name?
One of our mentors was the founder of the Australian Democrats, Don Chipp. He said that the hardest thing that a new party faced was getting media attention. Calling ourselves the Sex Party certainly helped us there. Of course sex is the core to our being. It encompasses and depicts many aspects of our everyday lives including pleasure, gender, culture, finance, environment and law. It is a basic part of people’s lives and identity but most politicians are afraid to discuss it. While people find our name controversial there is a need for the sex party.
13) Where do you go from here?
We have just been registered in the Australian state of Victoria and will be standing candidates in next month’s state election. From here we will continue to build our base, expand on our policies and hopefully win a seat in government in the not too distant future.
Fiona Patten with Marianne Leishman, known by her stage name Zahra Stardust is a professional pole dancer and ASP candidate for the Senate