A RECENT community survey has revealed that anti-discrimination laws and inclusive services are the key issues LGBTI Victorians want addressed by both local and federal governments.

The Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (VGLRL) conducted the survey at Melbourne’s annual Midsumma Carnival earlier this year, asking people the LGBTI-centric issues they considered most important.

On a federal level, 88 per cent of respondents said they wanted to see greater legal protections from discrimination, while 85 per cent said they would like to see violence and public harassment addressed.

VGLRL co-convenor Sean Mulcahy said federal legislation still needed to be improved to protect all sexuality and gender diverse people from discrimination.

“Even in 2016 there are still holes in our anti-discrimination laws,” he told the Star Observer.

“There are limited protections for intersex people in state law, broad and unnecessary religious exemptions, and inadequate protections for gender diverse Victorians.

“We’ll work with both federal and state governments to fill the gaps and provide strong anti-discrimination protections for the whole LGBTI community.”

The recent Royal Commission into Family Violence report recommended a review of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, one of 227 recommendations that Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews committed to undertaking.

Fellow VGLRL co-convenor Rachael Hambleton reflected Mulcahy’s concerns.

“Despite advances in policing and anti-discrimination protections, LGBTI Victorians still consider discrimination, harassment, and hate speech to be an issue of high importance,” she said.

“Obviously more needs to be done to translate the protections under law into practice and to create safer communities for LGBTI Victorians.”

On a local level, 83 per cent of respondents said they wanted to see their local government focus on LGBTI-inclusive health and community services.

This was ranked as the highest, followed by 67 per cent of respondents who said they want to see greater advocacy by local government on LGBTI issues like marriage equality.

Mulcahy said while local councils must not discriminate based on sexual or gender identities, Victorians felt they could work to be more inclusive.

“Councils have an obligation under law to not discriminate against LGBTI residents in the provision of health and community services,” he said.

“But they should aspire to provide services that are not only non-discriminatory but fully inclusive of the LGBTI people that make up their local community.”

In an effort to address these concerns, the Victorian Local Governance Association’s Working Group will hold a symposium on LGBTI inclusion in local government this month.

The City of Glen Eira council in Melbourne’s south east recently included a focus on elderly LGBTI residents in its aged care strategy for the first time.

“The forum will be a key opportunity for councillors and those who work in local government to learn from what other councils are doing to be more inclusive of LGBTI community members,” Mulcahy said.

“I commend the association for taking the initiative and holding this forum on LGBTI inclusion in local government.

“I’d encourage any council workers who have an interest in this area to attend.”

Full list of issues identified in the survey:

Federal government

  • Legal protections from discrimination (88% ranked this of high importance)
  • Violence and harassment in the street/public (85%)
  • Legal protections from hate speech and vilification (80%)
  • Improved mental health outcomes for LGBTI people (78%)
  • LGBTI youth and schooling (77%)

Local government

  • LGBTI-inclusive health and community services (83% ranked this as high)
  • Advocacy on LGBTI issues, e.g. marriage equality (67%)
  • Public statements and support for LGBTI residents (61%)
  • Engagement and consultation with LGBTI residents (61%)
  • LGBTI community events/festivals (61%)

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