GLBTI rights groups have reacted with cautious optimism to Julia Gillard becoming Australia’s 27th prime minister.

Australian Coalition for Equality’s Corey Irlam pointed to Gillard’s track record on protecting gay, lesbian and bisexual people in the area of workplace discrimination.

“We understand that Ms Gillard has a history of quiet support for GLBT issues,” Irlam said.

“Ms Gillard’s election provides an opportunity for our community to have constructive conversations with her and her new ministry about why we need federal protections from discrimination on grounds such as relationship status, sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex.

“[But] only time will tell if Ms Gillard’s strength of conviction will prevail over the conservative or religious views of the powerbrokers who helped her get her new job.”

Australian Marriage Equality’s Alex Greenwich told Southern Star his group would suspend its pamphletting activities targeting Labor MPs as a sign of goodwill to the new prime minister.

“If Prime Minister Gillard can show Labor is open to allowing same-sex couples to marry, there is less need for our campaign,” Greenwich said.

AME has written to Gillard asking her to implement the findings of last year’s Senate inquiry into same-sex marriage which called for federal authorities to provide Australian couples with the documentation they need to wed overseas, and to establish a Law Reform Commission inquiry on the issue.

“We are hopeful Prime Minister Gillard will be more open to discussing marriage equality than her predecessor, Kevin Rudd, and so we have asked for a meeting to put our case,” Greenwich said.

“Although Julia Gillard has previously opposed marriage equality, we want an opportunity to appeal to her stated values of inclusion, fairness and equity.”

Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (VGLRL) co-convenor Dr Anthony Bendall congratulated Gillard on becoming Australia’s first female prime minister.

“VGLRL welcomes Ms Gillard’s election and sees it as an opportunity for the government to adopt a new approach to GLBTIQ rights in a number of areas, including a federal anti-discrimination statute which includes sexual orientation and gender identity, a more rigorous human rights framework, and marriage equality,” Bendall said.

“The VGLRL also recognises the enormous contribution to GLBTIQ rights made by the Rudd Government in 2008, by reforming 85 separate federal laws to remove provisions which discriminated against GLBTIQ people.”

The VGLRL will work with other organisations to press these issues with the Government in the lead-up to the federal election.

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