David Scamell and Julie McConnell are looking forward to a politically challenging future after the pair were elected co-convenors of the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby this week.

It’s always something I’ve wanted to do ever since I was a teenager, and I’ve been involved for the last two years. It’s something I feel very passionately about, Scamell said.

Scamell joined the committee in 2002 and was coordinator of the Lobby’s 2004 federal election campaign, while McConnell joined the committee in 2003.

McConnell said the appointment was a fantastic opportunity, despite limited opportunities for federal legal reform with a coalition-controlled Senate.

One of the things that we’ll really be focusing on is consulting with the community and just finding out exactly what people are wanting from the Lobby, McConnell said.

Certainly parenting reforms [in NSW], which is something we’ve done a lot of consultation on, is something we’re also looking to make a priority over the next 12 months.

Outgoing convenor Somali Cerise told the Star the new heads of the Lobby had plenty of work to do.

Homophobia happens every day and not just in parliament, Cerise said. There’s so much that can be achieved -“ social justice issues as well as legal reform -“ and the Lobby needs to start looking at that.

Fellow outgoing convenor Rob McGrory agreed. One of the key roles of the Lobby is to provide a counterbalancing voice in the media, McGrory said. And I think certainly one of the things that’s marked our convenorship this year has been a really strong presence in mainstream media.

Over the last two years, McGrory and Cerise’s convenorship saw the granting of equal age of consent for gay men in NSW, federal superannuation reform and a major campaign aimed at ending discrimination against lesbian and gay families.

Their term also saw Prime Minister John Howard ban gay marriages, a rights issue the Lobby had insisted was not a priority.

McGrory was philosophical about the loss. We’ve certainly had the opportunity to feel we’ve given something back, he said.

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