Sex in our politics? Australia’s Sex Party is not the world’s first but …

17 Nov

The Australian Sex Party which is preparing to launch this Friday at Melbourne Sexpo is not the world’s first political sex party. In British Columbia, Canada, a Sex Party was formed in 2005. It even ran candidates in that year’s provincial elections, winning less than 1 percent of the votes per candidate.

Their platform is not as frivolous as one might think. They include ‘teaching sex gradualism in schools’; ‘repealing sex-negative laws’, and supporting a ‘sex-positive community’. For example, on sex work, the party wanted to create ‘the Sex Worker Empowerment Program (SWEP), a federally-funded agency providing counseling, education, and advocacy to sex workers in Canada’. This is in addition to repealing laws against sex work in private. On censorship, it would advocate the formation of a ‘ Sex-Positive Press Council that would expose the overt and subtle censorship practiced by Canadian media’.

The Australian Sex Party appears to have chosen quite a different strategy as compared to its Canadian counterparts. It has, in my humble opinion, focused on issues which are more likely to have greater resonance with the general Australian public, rather than adopting a socially radical approach.

With the slogan, ‘We are serious about sex’, its agenda, according to AAP, includes promoting for, ‘a national sex education curriculum, reducing censorship, abolishing the government’s proposed internet filter and supporting gay marriage’. Another Sun Herald article, ‘Sex flirts with politics’, quoted the party’s spokeswoman and head of the Eros Association, Fiona Patten, that they will also campaign on issues such as ‘health benefits for sex workers’ and ‘paid maternity leave’.

While the initial grassroots base will come from people and organisations from the sex industry, it hopes to eventually broaden its membership to include activists interested in ‘law reform, freedom and civil liberties’.

The bogeyman of the Sex Party? The conservative senator Steve Fielding and religious groups who are increasingly imposing their views and influence on sex and sex-related issues.

I am looking forward to what the party has in store when it fields its candidates for the Senate. It is time we recognise that sex should not be taboo; and that it does mix with politics. A broad based sex party that promotes sex positive attitudes, sexual health and the rights of sex workers and sexual minorities is urgently needed in an environment where religious groups and conservatives think they have the right to regulate or morally prescribe the boundaries and privacy of individuals’ sex lives. I’m serious and so is Sex, with a capital S.

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