FORMER Australian Greens leader Bob Brown has attacked the two major parties’ record on LGBTI law reform, saying progress was far too slow and it was “inexplicable” marriage equality hadn’t already been legalised.
Brown said more Greens were need in parliament to create momentum on LGBTI issues and predicted the party would win at leat two seats at Saturday’s NSW State Election
Talking exclusively to the Star Observer, Brown – who was Australia’s first openly-gay federal parliamentarian – saved particular scorn for Labor and claimed the party talked up LGBTI rights in opposition but didn’t act on them in power.
“That’s the track record which has to be looked at [and] I don’t care what the local candidate says,” he said.
“Labor is captive to the majority in caucus and cabinet… I know this from the Gillard years where it was inexplicable to me that they wouldn’t move on equal marriage.
“They didn’t, they wouldn’t and they haven’t.
“If you want action on LGBTI [issues] and you vote Labor please don’t hold your breath — you’ll be dead.”
Brown, who was campaigning for sitting Balmain state Greens MP Jamie Parker and Greens candidate for Newtown Jenny Leong, said similar criticism could be levelled at both major parties.
“The same applies to every Liberal and Labor leader in the country,” he said.
“Where is equal marriage legislation anywhere?
“Not one of them, so better than looking at the lesser of two evils is looking at the good and that’s the Greens.”
Firth pointed to Labor’s former chief minister in the ACT Katy Gallagher and current chief minister Andrew Barr, both of who backed the territory’s 2013 bill to legalise same-sex marriage.
The legislation was later struck down by the High Court following federal Coalition challenge, also nullifying the marriages of 31 same-sex couples that took place over five days.
“For the Greens to claim they are the only party to care about gay issues is a complete misrepresentation of Labor’s record on gay rights,” Firth said.
“It was the former Premier Neville Wran that decriminalised homosexuality, our public policy supports equality in marriage at a state and federal level and when federal Labor was in power we amended 80 pieces of legislation for LGBTI people and it was Labor that entered a same sex marriage bill.”
Firth said she was “shocked” at the Greens’ attitude as recent NSW LGBTI law reform had come through political alliances.
“The Greens will never be in power… it is only when Labor are in government we get movement on these issues,” she said.
Brown also criticised Liberal candidates for not appearing at a number of inner city public election forums. He said they were happy to speak to “the big end of town” but weren’t concerned about community issues or social justice.
Lyndon Gannon, the Liberal candidate for Balmain, declined to comment on Brown’s criticism and would not confirm if he had attended any forums.
He said the Baird Government “has a proud record of support for the LGBTI community” and pointed to the expungement of historical sexual offences and the abolition of the homosexual panic defence all of which occurred under the Coalition — albeit with cross-party campaigning.
Gannon added he was proud that NSW Liberal policy is to have a conscience vote on marriage equality and he would vote in favour.