AUSTRALIA’S first openly gay MP in the House of Representatives used his maiden speech to denounce homophobia and people who “peddle prejudice”.
After he was sworn into parliament a month ago, Zimmerman vowed to work for the rights of LGBTI people and for the issues important in his electorate.
At 12.30pm today, he rose to deliver his first speech as an MP, flanked by marriage equality advocate and far north Queensland Liberal MP Warren Entsch who wore a rainbow tie in support.
Zimmerman’s speech proved to be popular, going viral and trending on Twitter nationally for more than five hours at the time of print.
Love that my awesome friend Trent Zimmerman is still trending after a cracker of a first speech!
— Fiona Scott (@FionaScottMP) March 2, 2016
Eloquent maiden speech from Trent Zimmerman https://t.co/qCn1ftcmcy
— Angus McKenzie-Wills (@angusmckwills) March 2, 2016
Great maiden speech by Trent Zimmerman! Now just to convince your leader to scrap the expensive and pointless plebiscite #auspol
— Shannon Castle (@dogned) March 2, 2016
— Carrington Brigham (@DigitalMediaBoy) March 2, 2016
Zimmerman acknowledged the Aboriginal traditional owners in his electorate, the Cammeraygal and Wallumategal people, by saying the “the harbour and its headlands bore enormous spiritual significance” for both groups.
He went on to praise his electorate for its natural beauty and its people before getting onto the topic of his sexuality, which he said some people had discouraged him from acknowledging.
“I am very conscious that my election to this Parliament represents the first time an openly gay man or woman has entered the House of Representatives,” he said.
“While we have made great strides discrimination remains and too many are prepared to peddle prejudice.
“Our laws still deny access to marriage — our society’s ultimate expression of love and commitment.”
Zimmerman went on to say sexuality was not a choice but as “innate as their colour of [one’s] skin” and the fight for LGBTI rights would only be over when people no longer have to live in the closet, afraid to be their true selves.
“Coming out remains hard for many people. And believe me, I know what that’s like,” he said.
“While people feel the need to suppress their identity they will live in a life of fear and trepidation. They are denied the opportunity to love and be loved.
“But I hope that my election to this place will, in a small way, send a message of hope. That your sexuality should not and need not be a barrier.”
Zimmerman also spoke about his family history, his passion for politics and his liberal beliefs.
“As a Liberal I regard economic freedoms as the inseparable twin of personal liberty,” he said.
“There are some who will stridently argue for liberal economic reforms yet would have the government meddle in personal morality.”
On other issues, Zimmerman called for more investment in the IT sector, infrastructure, multiculturalism and transport before saying there had never been a more exciting time to be the MP for North Sydney.