Gay community groups have expressed early concern over independents who are former National Party members having a strong sway over a minority government on GLBT issues.
Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby co-convenor Sarah Rogan told Southern Star Observer on Monday there was community concern that independents such as Queensland’s Bob Katter — who voted against the 2008 federal same-sex law reforms — may hamper future GLBTI law reform efforts.
“Katter once said, ‘There are no gays in my electorate’, so someone like Bob Katter being influential is concerning for the queer community,” Rogan said.
“Getting anything that will benefit us through the House of Reps, such as equal opportunity law, it could be troublesome with someone like Bob Katter in a balance of power position.”
When SSO went to press uncertainty still surrounded who would form government.
Equal Love spokeswoman Ali Hogg said the message for both major parties on the issue of gay marriage is that action needs to be taken.
“I think part of the reason Labor hasn’t done so well is because they haven’t taken a stand around issues like same-sex marriage and refugees and they haven’t done anything to differentiate themselves from the Liberals,” Hogg told SSO.
“I think it’s a clear sign people are disappointed with the Labor Party.”
TransGender Victoria spokesperson Sally Goldner said, based on election surveys Labor and the Coalition completed before the election, the transgender community would benefit from a minority Labor government.
“If you look at the [National LGBT] Health Alliance survey and the Australian Coalition for Equality survey, [Labor] still come out ahead marginally of the Coalition,” Goldner said.
Goldner also expressed concern about Katter’s voting record on GLBT issues, however, she said she holds up some hope for NSW independents Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor who did vote for the 2008 reforms.
“It could well be, even if the independents aren’t great, there could be enough possibility to say Liberal and Labor could vote together the same as they did for same-sex law reforms,” Goldner said.
“I think the Greens in the Senate are going to be helpful and obviously a better option than [Family First’s] Steve Fielding having power in there.”
Goldner said she believes the community needed to mobilise and communicate better to have a stronger voice on GLBTI issues.
“The reality is that, still, marriage has less support than some of the other [GLBTI issues],” Goldner said.
“You can argue about posturing all you like as for the personal stance on marriage of, say, Julia Gillard or Penny Wong, but neither of the two larger parties support it, whereas they’ve at least given some sort of support for federal equal opportunity legislation.
“The community will have a lot to think about with this new parliament.”