Penny WongA Melbourne-based LGBTI business organisation is hosting community forums with federal politicians in the lead-up to this year’s election.

The Gay and Lesbian Organisation of Business and Enterprise (GLOBE) has invited SA Labor Senator Penny Wong, Liberal candidate for Melbourne Ports Kevin Ekendahl and Greens MP for Melbourne Adam Bandt to discuss issues concerning the LGBTI business community.

GLOBE Vice President David Micallef told Star Observer he hoped the events would show federal politicians marriage equality is only one issue among many on the minds of LGBTI voters.

“While marriage equality is a big issue and probably the biggest issue that we have at the moment, there are still also other issues that people are concerned about,” he said.

“For us it’s about making sure other issues that affect business for gay and lesbian people, things like diversity in the workplace, making sure that’s being addressed as well, and essentially representation of the gay community in all sectors.

“Dealing with issues of coming out in the workplace, discrimination that happens in the workplace for being gay or lesbian or bisexual—those issues still do come up and still do happen.”

This is the first time GLOBE has invited politicians to one of its events, and Micallef said it has come from a growing desire from within the organisation for the LGBTI business community to engage in political advocacy.

He said there it can be difficult for voters to separate parties’ views on an issue like marriage equality from other policy platforms that concern them.

“I think that there is always a tension there…one of the problems that we always come across in the gay community is that the more popular viewpoints always overshadow everything else,” said Micallef.

He also said it is important for LGBTI people to engage critically with politicians at community events like these rather than take them at face value.

“I think they should be engaging with all different parts of a community instead of focusing on just the people that would win them the most votes,” said Micallef.

“As for any person who’s looking to get into a position of power in the community, they do have to be ready to answer difficult questions from all different parts of the community.”

The events will be held across three Tuesdays in July. The first, with Greens MP Adam Bandt, is on Tuesday 2 July at 6.30pm. For bookings and more information visit www.globemelbourne.com.au.

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