Queensland has entered a new era of politics and a period of great uncertainty for the LGBTI community after the Liberal National Party (LNP) crushed the ALP at Saturday’s state election.
It looks likely the LNP will hold a huge majority of 78 seats in Queensland’s single House, to the ALP’s seven.
Katter’s Australian Party only managed two seats.
Independent MP Rob Messenger, who’d promised to introduce a bill repealing civil unions, lost his seat to the LNP, his former party.
Maroochydore MP Fiona Simpson – the LNP’s pro-reparative therapy shadow community services minister – easily retained her seat.
It’s unclear whether Simpson – who famously told state Parliament in 2002 that homosexuals could “grow into heterosexuality over time” – would keep the community services portfolio in Premier Campbell Newman’s new front bench, but she is expected to be a senior minister.
The wipeout also saw Labor LGBTI allies Grace Grace and Andrew Fraser – who introduced the state’s civil unions bill – taken out by their LNP opponents.
Leader Anna Bligh, the first state premier to speak out in favour of same-sex marriage, quit politics the day after the massive election defeat.
Queensland Association for Healthy Communities executive director Paul R Martin told the Star Observer the organisation will work to ensure an open and constructive partnership between the new Government and the LGBT community.
“Such a decisive win for the LNP will hopefully encourage them to govern with strength in the interests of all Queenslanders and not pander to an extreme minority in the community who promote bigotry and inequality,” Martin said.
“While civil partnerships and other law reform issues remain important for the LGBT community, we also need action to address the high rates of mental ill-health and suicide, increasing HIV and STI infections, risky alcohol, tobacco and other drug use and ongoing violence and discrimination.”
Brisbane-based PFLAG national spokeswoman Shelley Argent said she’d take a wait-and-see approach to Queensland’s new guard.
“A lot people in the community, older gay men in particular, were very concerned before the election about what would possibly be the outcome if the LNP got in,” Argent said.
“When Campbell Newman talks about treating Queenslanders with dignity and respect, I hope he’s including the gay community in that.”
As for Newman’s mixed messages on repealing the Civil Partnerships Act, Argent said the community would need patience before preparing a response.
“If they start talking about repealing things, then we’ll take action. But nothing like that should be discussed in detail until we see what they’re going to do.”