The ALP gay group is organising to have homosexual law reform discussed at the Labor party’s NSW state conference to be held in June this year. Secretary of the group, Craig Johnston, has written to the nine state electorate councils and 19 local branches of the party which he knows definitely carried resolutions calling for law reform in 1983. He has asked them to submit their resolutions as agenda items for the conference.

Craig said that the conference of 1982 had called on the government and parliament of NSW to repeal laws that discriminate against homosexual behaviour and to include homosexuality as a ground under the anti-discrimination Act. The state Labor government has done the latter but laws which criminalise male homosexual behaviour are still on the books. Conference resolutions are normally binding on Labor governments but the ease of homosexual and abortion law reform MPs are allowed independent votes.

Craig said: The question of homosexual law reform is not going to go away, either inside or outside the ALP. I’d like as many lesbian and gay members of the ALP as possible to forward resolutions to conference. The deadline for submission of agenda items for the Conference is March 1.

The ALP gay group is also considering submitting an agenda item for the ALP’s National Conference to be held later this year, calling for the overturning of the independent or -˜conscience’ vote on homosexual law reform at the state levels. Craig said that the idea of a non party vote was an archaic leftover from the period before the modern party system, when parliaments consisted of independents and opportunistic ruling class cliques, prior to the working class organising its own party. The Labor movement has always insisted on solidarity and collective action, and so-called independent or -˜conscience’ voting is designed to undermine these. Homosexual law reform is a class issue and should be voted for on party lines, he said.

The ALP Gay Group’s annual general meeting is being held on February 7 in the Sydney Gay Centre at 7 p.m. It is believed that Alderman Max Pearce will be standing again for the position of President, but that Craig Johnston will not be standing again as secretary because of other political commitments.

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