Following Labor’s convincing win in last Saturday’s state election, the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby has called on the Carr government to finish the job of lesbian and gay law reform.
Hopes are high that Labor -“ returned in high-queer-density electorates like Port Jackson, Coogee, Heffron and Marrickville -“ will move on a number of law reform issues early in the new term. A similar approach was taken in 1999 with the groundbreaking Property Relationships Legislation Amendment Act.
[This week] Premier Carr promised that NSW would have -˜far-reaching sweeping reforms’ and we are expecting that this includes full legal equality for lesbians and gay men, Lobby co-convenor Rob McGrory said.
Prior to the election, Labor committed to making the marital status provisions of the Anti-Discrimination Act applicable to same-sex couples. A majority of Labor members are also expected to favour legislation to equalise the age of consent, which remains a conscience issue for MPs despite ardent lobbying by activists.
While Labor increased its lower-house majority, the other success story of the election was the Greens, who increased their upper-house representation from two to three members.
We are hoping that the increased support of the Greens will send a clear message to Labor politicians: the people of NSW support social justice and, in particular, equality for gay men and lesbians and that there are no votes to be gained in homophobia, Lobby co-convenor Somali Cerise said.
Independent MP Clover Moore, returned for her fourth term as the member for Bligh, said she would like to see the government addressing equal age of consent and adoption [law reform] immediately.
It would be good if we see that in the first session, she said. I’ll certainly be pushing for that. [Age of consent] clearly came across as the issue of most concern, and it’s accepted in the rest of the community.
Moore noted community concern about the general performance of third-term governments.
I think everyone’s worried about that, and that’s why Carr is racing to tell people that he will put in a new team and there will be a shake-up, she said. I hope there is. I think the areas that suffered in the last term were planning and transport.
Moore also offered a withering assessment of the performance of the Liberals.
The reason why they’ve done so poorly is that they’ve been a very poor opposition for eight years, and unless there’s a dramatic change Bob Carr will walk all over them again, she claimed. There are very serious issues that they failed to address, such as transport and policing. They’ve let the government run the agenda, and they run along behind.
Rainbow Labor spokesperson Ryan Heath said the secure position of the Carr government would open up the door for groups such as Rainbow Labor in this term.
Age of consent is the priority but the key thing is that moving on age of consent satisfies the legislative agenda that our community has, Heath said. There were also a number of non-legislative issues to be championed in this term of government, he said, including homosexuality in school sex education and funding for school anti-bullying campaigns.
Heath also welcomed the increased number of female Labor MPs, arguing that they were often more supportive on lesbian and gay issues.
It’s all good news on all fronts, Heath said. Now we need to turn it into action.