GLBTI rights groups have reacted with cautious optimism to Julia Gillard becoming Australia’s 27th prime minister.
Australian Coalition for Equality’s Corey Irlam pointed to Gillard’s past track record on protecting gay, lesbian and bisexual people in the area of workplace discrimination.
“We understand that Ms Gillard has a history of quiet support for GLBT issues,” Irlam said.
“Ms Gillard’s election provides an opportunity for our community to have constructive conversations with her and her new ministry about why we need federal protections from discrimination on grounds such as relationship status, sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex.
“[But] only time will tell if Ms Gillard’s strength of conviction will prevail over the conservative or religious views of the powerbrokers who helped her get her new job.”
Australian Marriage Equality’s Alex Greenwich told Sydney Star Observer his group would suspend its pamphleting activities targeting Labor MPs, as a sign of goodwill to the new prime minister.
AME has written to Gillard, asking her to implement the findings of last year’s Senate inquiry into same-sex marriage which called for federal authorities to provide Australian couples with the documentation they need to wed overseas, and to establish a Law Reform Commission inquiry into the issue.
“We are hopeful Prime Minister Gillard will be more open to discussing marriage equality than her predecessor, Kevin Rudd, and so we have asked for a meeting to put our case,” Greenwich said.
NSW GLRL policy and development coordinator Senthorun Raj said, as a non-partisan organisation, the Lobby did not support any particular candidate or party.
“However, the GLRL urges the new prime minister, Julia Gillard, to act immediately on her comments about promoting greater tolerance, and introduce comprehensive federal legislation to protect people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity,” Raj said. “We also hope the new Gillard Government will reconsider its policy stance on marriage equality, and reform the Marriage Act to permit all couples, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, the right to marry.”
However, Ben Cooper of Community Action Against Homophobia was less hopeful.
“CAAH Sydney believes that Julia Gillard won the leadership with the support of the anti-gay right within the Labor Party and she will be beholden to their agenda,” Cooper said.
“We hope she will be supportive of issues such as same-sex marriage but we are not optimistic that this will occur any time soon.”