Mary WooldridgeA senior minister in the Napthine Government and prominent LGBTI-rights advocate stands to lose her seat in a proposed redrawing of Victoria’s electoral boundaries.

Doncaster, the safe Liberal seat of Community Services Minister Mary Wooldridge in Melbourne’s Eastern suburbs would be scrapped under the proposal, handed down last week by the Victorian Electoral Boundaries Commission.

Wooldridge is a vocal supporter of the LGBTI community, and has been involved in a number of high-profile programs tackling issues faced by LGBTI young people, including the No To Homophobia campaign and the Healthy, Equal Youth (HEY) grants program.

Wooldridge also helped launch Private Lives 2 last year, a study by Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria on the health and wellbeing of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Australians.

Convener of the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby Anna Brown told Star Observer Wooldridge has showed exceptional leadership on LGBTI issues within the Napthine Government.

“Mary Wooldridge’s leadership on LGBTI issues as Minister for Mental Health has been very welcome, including her strong public support for the No To Homophobia campaign,” said Brown.

“She certainly seems to have a more sophisticated understanding of the issues facing our community including the need to address both direct and indirect forms of homophobic discrimination in order to tackle the poorer mental health outcomes for LGBTI people, rather than focusing purely on health issues such as HIV/AIDS.”

Brown worried that without Wooldridge, anti-LGBTI voices within the Victorian Government could carry more weight, mentioning Attorney-General Robert Clarke’s comments several years ago comparing “homosexual practices” to health risks like smoking.

“Considering some of the openly homophobic or just plain ignorant comments made publicly by her Coalition colleagues, it would certainly be a loss for the LGBTI community if Minister Wooldridge was to be left without a seat in the upcoming election.”

Other MPs in the Victorian Government criticised former Premier Ted Baillieu’s creation of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Health and Wellbeing committee last year, set up to advise Wooldridge and Minister for Health and Ageing David Davis on LGBTI issues.

The northern Victorian seat of Rodney, currently held by the Nationals’ Paul Weller, would also be scrapped under newly proposed electoral boundaries. Two new districts have been proposed for Melbourne’s west and north-west in the redrawing, said to favour Labor in the 2014 state election.

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