Community activists have welcomed lesbian Labor MP Penny Sharpe’s arrival in NSW parliament, saying her presence in Macquarie Street will be of significant benefit in the push for gay law reform.
Sharpe became the state’s first openly lesbian parliamentarian when she was sworn in to the upper house on Tuesday.
The mother-of-two replaces education minister Carmel Tebbutt, now a member of the lower house after winning the Marrickville by-election last month.
An enthusiastic contingent of supporters, including Sharpe’s partner, the couple’s two children and members of the gay and lesbian community, turned out to see Sharpe sworn in this week.
The 34-year-old, who remains a Marrickville councillor, told Sydney Star Observer the reception from the upper house’s usual suspects had been cordial but wary, but would not give details.
Conservative upper house MPs including Christian Democrat Fred Nile are said to be opposed to Sharpe’s appointment.
The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby said Sharpe’s arrival bolstered reform efforts.
Having someone such as Penny, who has already indicated publicly that same-sex parenting rights are a priority for her, will be of great benefit to the community, Lobby co-convenor David Scamell told the Star.
The Lobby will be working quite closely with Penny as a key ally in parliament to ensure parenting reforms are carried out by this government.
Sharpe is expected to more fully outline her ambitions for gay and lesbian law reform in her maiden speech, due next month.
She said she would use any positions she gained on parliamentary committees to advocate for change.