Labor candidate for Kooyong Steve Hurd is one of a handful of candidates to speak up on gay and lesbian issues during the federal election campaign, saying he has a unique insight into experiencing discrimination.
Hurd — who is one of two blind candidates running for the Labor Party this election — has expressed his support for gay marriage in several interviews. He told Southern Star he wants a stronger focus on fairness in federal anti-discrimination laws.
“I know what it’s like to live in a world where everyone says the right thing, and even writes the right thing in Acts but it just doesn’t happen that way,” Hurd said.
“People have got very good about covering up discrimination in various ways. They know how to justify not giving a certain person a job, and deep down it might be something related to a discriminatory aspect.
“It might be related to the fact that a blind person can’t fill in forms in a certain way, or a person who is a transsexual may not look the part for the particular role. I think we have to take a broader view of anti-discrimination legislation.”
Hurd echoed Labor MP Michael Danby’s call to allow party members a conscience vote in Parliament on same-sex marriage.
“I actually think society is ready for those changes, I think it’s politics that isn’t.
“In time, the final piece of the puzzle will fall into place and gay marriage will be recognised finally in a legislative way.
“I believe if it was a free vote in Parliament and if people did the proper polling you’d find out that it isn’t going to be such a change and most people would accept it.”
Hurd will have an uphill battle in the safe Liberal seat, standing against John Howard protégé Josh Frydenberg who’s set to replace popular sitting Liberal MP Petro Georgiou.
Hurd, a lawyer and strong advocate for the disability sector and community broadcasting, said although he is running in a blue-ribbon Liberal seat he believes he can make a difference.
“As people with disabilities increasingly involve themselves in the community, it’s all about community access and changing community attitudes.
“A person with a disability in a responsible role like an MP or minister … will change the views of people, they’ll stop seeing us as vulnerable or pathetic charity cases.
“I think those precedents need to be set in this area.
Hurd won Most Outstanding Male Presenter on Channel 31 in 2009, where he is known as ‘Hurdini’ on No Limits, a program presented by people with disabilities.