voteThe Australian Labor Party, the Coalition and the Australian Greens have responded to the National LGBTI Election Survey, outlining their agenda for LGBTI issues in the next parliament and their positions on specific issues.

Developed by a number of LGBTI advocacy organisations, the survey covers a wide range of LGBTI-related topics, including marriage, anti-discrimination and health. The responses will inform the LGBTI public forum to be held on Saturday in Melbourne, where representatives from the three major parties will field questions from the LGBTI community.

While responses from the Greens and the ALP were extensive, the Coalition’s response was much briefer, failing to address a number of key areas. On health in particular, the Coalition did not acknowledge the need for LGBTI people to be addressed specifically in frameworks for improving health outcomes, instead committing to “improving the quality of health for all Australians”.

The Coalition also failed to commit to equality for same-sex couples under its proposed Paid Parental Leave Scheme, a commitment made by the ALP.

However, in a positive move the Coalition did commit to upholding the Australian Government Guidelines for the Recognition of Sex and Gender released earlier this year. The Coalition also acknowledged its own shift on marriage equality, making a distinction between its current view and previous election commitments:

“At the 2010 election and earlier elections, the Coalition supported the current definition of marriage contained in the Marriage Act. Tony Abbott supports the existing definition of marriage. He has also said that what the Coalition may do on this issue beyond the election is ultimately a matter for the Party Room in the future.”

Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby Co-convenor Anna Brown told the Star Observer she was generally pleased with the responses, but identified some gaps.

“While it was fantastic the Coalition provided a largely positive response, there are some glaring gaps that Coalition representative Kelly O’Dwyer must address at our election forum this Saturday. Top of this list here is the LGBTI aged care strategy and our status as a special needs group. The Coalition must provide a firm commitment to assure LGBTI people that our needs will continue to be met as we age,” Brown said.

Brown also praised the ALP’s commitment to work with the states and territories on these issues:

“I am really pleased to see the ALP committing to taking a leadership position with the States and Territories on significant human rights issues, such as adoption laws and nationally consistent intersex, trans and gender diverse documentation including birth certificates.”

The ALP also committed to consulting with the community on a range of other proposals, including changes to Medicare, and the possibility of a dedicated spokesperson on LGBTI issues.

All parties agreed to consider better statistical data collection on LGBTI issues, with the ALP and the Greens in particular making a firm commitment.

INFO: For full details of the responses and a summary assessment or to submit a question for the LGBTI election forum visit www.lgbti2013.org.au. For those in Melbourne, come along to the forum on Saturday 31 August at 2.30pm at DnM Bar in Prahran. RSVP is essential via lgbti2013.eventbrite.com.

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