The Australian Greens have released a suite of LGBTIQ+ policies ahead of the upcoming federal election, which is expected to take place in May.
Announced by Senator Janet Rice and Greens candidate Adam Pulford, the policies cover religious exemptions, homelessness, healthcare, and conversion therapy.
“LGBTIQ+ people continue to face many challenges in our society, such as students and teachers being expelled and fired from religious schools, higher rates of mental health issues and homelessness, and enduring sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts,” she said.
“We can and must do better.”
As part of their newly launched policies, the Greens plan to scrap the school chaplains program and invest the money in secular and inclusive support for students through counselling and anti-bullying initiatives like Safe Schools.
Last year’s federal budget announcement included news that the school chaplains program would be made permanent, effectively replacing the Safe Schools anti-bullying program.
Through the budget, the program would receive an additional $247 million over four years to support thousands of religious chaplains in schools, a move protested by a number of groups including the Australian Education Union.
The Greens also plan to fight for the removal of religious exemptions in Australia’s anti-discrimination laws allowing faith-based organisations to discriminate against the people on the basis of sexuality or gender identity.
Despite Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s pledge to take action on discrimination against LGBT students and teachers in faith-based schools last year, the issue has stalled repeatedly, and will likely carry on through the upcoming election.
On conversion therapy, Rice said the Greens planned to stamp out “dangerous” sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts.
“We know from survivors that the ex-gay and ex-trans conversion movement extends beyond formalised therapies in subtle and insidious ways,” she said.
“These change efforts pervade some religious communities, faith-based organisations, schools and the counselling industry.
“The Greens plan will support survivors of sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts and their allies to stamp out these practices and fund $1 million for LGBTIQ+ faith organisations to build capacity for self-advocacy and $500,000 into a public health and awareness campaign.”
Other policy commitments included the development of a national LGBTIQ+ health strategy, appointing an LGBTIQ+ human rights commissioner, and addressing homelessness for LGBTIQ+ people via an increase in funding for general crisis and temporary housing services.
Pulford, who will be running for the seat of Wills, said the Greens have always stood with LGBTIQ+ people.
“We will continue fighting for the rights of every member of our community,” he said.
“As a gay man, I am proud to be part of announcing our first set of policies to help end discrimination against LGBTIQ+ people and provide the support we need when we need it.”