WHILE the Queensland Labor party last week offered a range of promises aimed at wooing LGBTI voters across the state, the Liberal National Party (LNP) government have offered fewer commitments and no new policies in the lead up to this Saturday’s state election.
On the other end of the political spectrum, the Greens have also announced a list of LGBTI policies in their effort to improve their third-party presence in a state where they have traditionally struggled.
Last month a further $525,000 was provided by the LNP government to fund the roll out the mobile Rapid Roadshow service that has taken to towns around the state to promote and increase HIV and STI testing rates.
While Labor and the Greens have committed to restoring the funding to Queensland AIDS Council (QuAC), the LNP have indicated there would be no change in its stance on its funding and that the HIVFQ would be responsible for any future decisions.
There are similarly no plans to review the majority closure of the state’s largest sexual health clinic, Biala, by the Metro North Hospital and Health Board. While Labor have indicated they would review that decision, the Greens have promised to support QuAC’s sexual health service Clinic 30, to fill “the gap left by the closure of Biala”.
On the topic of legal issues, there are “no plans” to change a LNP government’s position on the state’s provocation – or “gay panic” – defence. Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said that he believes changes in 2011 that “strengthened” the legal loophole and made it harder to use were sufficient.
“Provocation became much harder to establish as a defence… and this has proven to be an adequate protection but we will continue to monitor the legislation’s effectiveness.” Bleijie told the Star Observer.
The Greens have committed to amending the criminal code to remove the defence, stating that there can be no grounds by which an accused in an anti-gay hate murder can use it as a justification.
On the issue of same-sex altruistic surrogacy and adoption laws, the LNP have indicated that there are no plans to make any amendments to existing legislation but have not ruled out any future action on surrogacy.
Promising to guarantee surrogacy rights to same-sex couples; the Greens have also committed to extend equal access to adoption to the LGBTI community.
Labor, LNP and the Greens have all committed to continuing the progress towards expungement of historical consensual gay sex convictions, a process currently under way by the LNP government.
A restoration of state-sanctioned Civil Unions and the Civil Partnerships Act is supported by the Greens, but a re-elected LNP government is unlikely to make any amendments to the changes it made in 2012.
Queensland is the only state where a discrepancy exists between the age of consent of vaginal and anal sex, and the Greens have restated their position of equalising the ages and bringing the state in line with the rest of the country.
In comments made during last week’s forum, Cavallucci said that the issue was not a priority for the government.
The Attorney-General clarified the LNP’s position on the difference in age of consent.
“The legislation does not discriminate between sexes and there are currently no plans to amend it,” he said.
Like Labor, the Greens support the roll out of the national anti-homophobic bullying Safe Schools Coalition that is already underway in Victoria and NSW.
However, Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek said said the LNP would not follow the lead of the southern states, as he believes individual schools were best left to implement their own anti-bullying measures.
“My biggest priority is the health and wellbeing of all Queensland students,” Langbroek told the Star Observer.
“We believe that schools are best placed to select the relevant programs to support the needs of their students and the government gives schools the autonomy to make these decisions.
“Last year, the government updated its Inclusive Education policy to ensure that schools were supported to be more engaging places for all community members. This includes same-sex attracted, transgender and intersex students.”
The Greens have also committed to supporting a ban on so-called “gay conversion/reparative” therapies that are currently sanctioned by the government. However, there is no word from Labor or the LNP about their stance on the controversial practice.
The Attorney-General said he personally disagreed with the controversial therapy, but supported the right for people to practice their religion freely.
“Everyone has a right to practice their religion and everyone also has the right to be who you are. I don’t agree with these so called therapies and would urge anyone considering taking part in one to reconsider,” Bleijie said.
Meanwhile, government financial support for Brisbane Pride Festival appears to be assured as LNP, Labor and the Greens committed to continued funding of and involvement with the state’s major LGBTI pride event.
One issue proving to be contentious for partygoers in Brisbane’s nightlife centre and gay-centric Fortitude Valley is that of Labor’s proposed 1am lockout laws, based on a similar model implemented in NSW.
The LNP have refused to impose lockouts on venues, opting for a continuation of the measures included in their current Safe Night Out Strategy.
Premier Campbell Newman has expressed his belief that the Queensland LGBTI community should be offered equal treatment, free from discrimination and that issues affecting the entire state are its top priority.
“The LNP Government firmly believes that all members of our community deserve to be treated equally and with dignity and respect,” Campbell Newman told the Star Observer.
“As we campaign, members of the LNP consistently find that the issues of highest priority to all members of the community, irrespective of gender, sexuality or race, are a properly managed economy, access to a bed in a world-class hospital when needed, the best of educations delivered in a safe, inclusive environment, safe communities free from crime, and better and more affordable infrastructure including roads, electricity and water.
“We are on track in delivering all of these things. But if we go off track now, the progress we are starting to see will be at risk.”
The Star Observer contacted the offices of the Health Minister for comment but did not receive a response by time of publication.
Queenslanders go to the polls this Saturday, January 31.
(The original story was edited and updated at 2.35pm to include comments recently received from the Attorney-General.)