Law & Culture - 2012 - Vol 37(2)

Law and CultureIn our Law & Culture column, you will find original works of fiction, reviews of a wide range of publications — not just conventional legal texts — as well as broader cultural forms such as films, TV shows, CDs, DVDs, art exhibitions and so on. The column links in with the Alternative Law Journal’s focus on law for the disadvantaged, human rights law and law reform.

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Speak now: Australian perspectives on same-sex marriage

Senthorun Raj

Speak Now CoverVictor Marsh (ed); Clouds of Magellan, 2011; 255pp; $29.95 (paperback)

We knew that there was enough in our shared journeying to gather us into the future … whatever it might bring.

Reverend Dorothy McRae-McMahon

Marriage equality evokes passionate debate amongst scholars, politicians and individuals in the community. Often public debates are constructed in polarising terms: conservative religious narratives that value marriage as a procreative institution is weighted against a human rights dialogue that argues marriage equality is a basic civil right. Speak Now: Australian Perspectives on Same-Sex Marriage is a collection of essays, edited by Victor Marsh, that attempts a more provocative discussion beyond the current public debate by interrogating the different political, personal, cultural and affective investments that surround the issue of same-sex marriage (or marriage equality more appropriately). From academic essays to personal musings, the book highlights the disparate ways in which marriage occupies a privileged space in our communities. Given the volume of pieces and the constraints of a word limit, my review explores these issues thematically, so I am unable to do justice or mention every individual author.

(2012) 37(2) AltLJ 141

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Current Trends in the Regulation of Same-Sex Relationships

Wayne Morgan

Law in Content Special Edition 28(1)Paula Gerber and Adiva Sifris (eds); Law in Context Special Issue 28(1); Federation Press, 2011; 122 pages; $66.00 (paperback)

This special issue of Federation Press’s Law in Context series includes seven articles, all relatively brief, by Australian authors (most from Victoria) focusing on issues of same-sex parenting and same-sex marriage. No attention at all is paid to the regulation of same-sex families under de facto law or under the Australian civil union schemes that continue to proliferate, and I thus find the title of the special issue somewhat misleading. Given that it is entitled ’current trends’, I would have thought some analysis of civil union schemes in particular was warranted. Leaving this aside, the special issue is a useful collection of current work on same-sex parenting and same-sex marriage.

(2012) 37(2) AltLJ 142

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Homelessness and the law

Chris Povey

Homelessness and the Law - Tamara WalshTamara Walsh; The Federation Press, 2011; 291pp; $49.95 (paperback)

What is the impact of the law on homelessness? Or more bluntly, why worry about the law at all when people are sleeping in cars or begging on the street? Surely we should be far more concerned about pressing questions such as access to housing and services.

Tamara Walsh answers these questions unequivocally in her book Homelessness and the Law. The law has an integral role to play in the lives of people who are homeless. Walsh addresses the way in which the law can have a disproportionate impact on this group of people who are often extremely disadvantaged. She pays particular attention to failures to sustain tenancies and prevent evictions, punitive social security systems and public space offences which unfairly affect people with nowhere else to go.

(2012) 37(2) AltLJ 143

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Fear of a brown planet

Bill Swannie

Fear of a Brown PlanetWritten and performed by Aamer Rahman and Nazeem Hussain
2011; 75 minutes, PG; available on DVD; $24.95 - www.brownplanet.com.au

The Cronulla riots, the White Australia Policy, the Northern Territory Intervention, recent violent attacks on Indian students and taxi drivers, mandatory detention of asylum seekers. Who could deny the strong currents of racism and xenophobia in Australian society and politics? Stand up comedians Aamer Rahman and Nazeem Hussain, collectively known as Fear of a Brown Planet (‘FoaBP’), courageously explore these issues in this performance recorded in Melbourne in April 2011.

(2012) 37(2) AltLJ 145

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Film Classification 
and Censorship

Catherine Schubert

Happy endings are not guaranteed

A Serbian FilmOn 25 November 2010, Srdjan Spasojevic’s A Serbian Film1 was classified RC in Australia by the Classification Board after being submitted for a sale/hire classification by its prospective Australian distributor Accent Films. RC stands for ‘Refused Classification’ and the sale, hire and public exhibition of RC films is prohibited by legislation in each Australian state and territory. These films are effectively banned. The Classification Board has no power to modify or ‘cut’ films, nor can it request that this be done. It does, however, supply those who submitted the film with a report detailing the reasons for the Board’s decision and the scenes it found particularly problematic. This essentially provides an acceptable stencil around which to cut. On 23 February 2011, a modified version of A Serbian Film was refused classification. However, on 5 April 2011, a further modified version was classified R18+, meaning this version could be legally sold and hired to adults throughout Australia.

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