IN 2016 people voted with their feet – or rather with a click of their mouse – as thousands of people got behind online petitions championing LGBTI causes.
Australians took to campaign sites Change.org and GetUp! to start petitions on a range of issues important to the LGBTI community including promoting the Safe Schools program, allowing same-sex students to attend formal together, changing adoption laws and championing marriage equality.
At a political level, Change.org celebrated the changes to South Australian birth certificate laws after the mums of Tadhg won the right to both be named on his birth certificate. Months later adoptions by same-sex couples were given the green light after a petition racked up more than 27,000 signatures.
In Queensland and South Australia, the state governments committed to abolishing the “terribly homophobic law” known as the gay panic defence after strong lobbying from Catholic priest Father Paul Kelly and one of the biggest petitions ever in Change.org’s history.
Bundoora Secondary School College in Victoria announced it will now accept same-sex couples to their debutante ball after the successful petition, and a student LGBTI coalition was set up at Victoria’s prestigious Wesley College after it refused to sign up to the Safe Schools program.
Change.org’s communication director Gary Nunn said LGBTI people across Australia are using the tool to successful campaign for both big and small victories for the community.
“From legal equality for gay parents to same-sex partners being able to attend the school formal, 2016 has seen people power victories Australia-wide, because online technology has empowered everyday people to amass support to persuade and win,” he said.
The team at GetUp! also had a massive year – not only campaigning for LGBTI issues, but strongly fighting for marriage equality and against the proposed plebiscite on the issue.