THE Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) wants Australia’s major political parties to introduce quotas for LGBTI candidates in winnable seats.

VAC argues that preselection quotas within the major parties will increase LGBTI representation in Parliament and ensure sufficient attention is paid to issues affecting the community and quotas have been used successfully in Australia in the past to increase representation for women in

VAC CEO Simon Ruth said representative quotas for women could serve as a model both for how LGBTI quotas might work, and their potential for positive outcomes.

“We’ve seen the success organisations like Emily’s List have had in increasing women’s representation in Parliament, so we know quotas can work in Australia,” he said.

“Having more women in Parliament has contributed to positive change on issues like paid parental leave, pay equity and measures to reduce family violence, and we believe quotas for LGBTI representation could do the same for issues specifically affecting our communities.

“Representative quotas and merit-based systems are not mutually exclusive. Encouraging a Parliament that better reflects the diversity of the Australian community, its different backgrounds, experiences and viewpoints, will lead to better outcomes for all of us.”

VAC hopes  adopting this position it will draw attention what it believes is entrenched discrimination within Australia’s political parties and campaigns and increased LGBTI representation within the major parties will help curb the extreme rhetoric about LGBTI people that has become commonplace in the public sphere, and balance those extreme viewpoints in the party room.

VAC President Chad Hughes said preselection quotas for LGBTI candidates could have a significant impact on the tone of debate on issues affecting those communities.

“This isn’t just about legislative and policy outcomes, it’s about recognising the impact that political and public debates about LGBTI people have on our communities,” said Hughes.

“We know that discriminatory language negatively impacts the mental health of LGBTI communities, and the toxic discourse we’ve seen on a few issues this year needs to change. We would hope that having more LGBTI people present in party rooms will have a positive effect on how these issues are discussed, and allow political positions to be shaped by the people they affect the most.”

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