WITH the first week of the Queensland election drawing to a close, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) have called on the Premier and his Liberal National Party (LNP) to make amends with LGBTI Queenslanders.
PFLAG have accused Premier Campbell Newman of neglecting the community’s civil rights, pointing to some regressive and discriminatory polices enacted during his two-and-a-half years in government.
“Premier Newman is keen to talk about civil liberties, but forgets to mention the civil liberties the LNP quickly removed from a group who are not lawbreakers, just everyday citizens who pay taxes and contribute to society.”
She highlighted the winding back of civil unions to “registered relationships” and defunding of the Queensland AIDS Council as some examples.
Argent also took aim at the LNP’s refusal to repeal the state’s “gay panic” legal defence, saying that the law could still be exploited as a “scapegoat”.
An area where PFLAG has taken an interest in 2014 was the national rollout of the Safe Schools Project initiative that aims to work with schools and teachers to combat homophobic and transphobic bullying.
While the program is being implemented in Victoria and NSW, the Queensland Department of Education, Training and Employment has as not yet adopted the strategy.
“Premier Newman forgets to mention the LNP is very slow to implement a Safe Schools Project that addresses transphobia and homophobia in high schools,” Argent said.
“This is a policy that is working well in other Liberal state governments.”
The unequal age of consent for anal intercourse in Queensland – the only state where this discrepancy exists – disadvantages gay and bisexual men according to Argent, who urged the Premier to act on the issue.
“A concern with the present legislation is young gay men are having sex regardless, but are hesitant to have sexual health checks which can endanger them and their partner/partners,” she said.
“There is also the fear for them of legality and not disclosing partners and for some not being confident to seek education to keep themselves safe from STI’s due to the fact they are underage and scared.”
The majority closure of the Brisbane Sexual Health Clinic, known as Biala, saw the end of its in-house Gender Clinic; something Argent believes acted as a vital service for the community.
“Premier Newman also forgets to mention that the LNP closed the Gender Clinic at Biala which is now privately funded to keep this important clinic open for the trans* community of Brisbane,” she said.
Argent has asked the Premier to not just consider the state’s economy when developing policies for Queensland, but also the civil rights of minorities.
“We acknowledge that the economy is an issue, but rights cannot be bought and regardless of economic crisis a person’s living standards mean little if their rights are not recognised and valued,” she said.
“A government that actively discriminates gains nothing; however, a government that values a minority group’s rights enriches society as a whole.”