Let’s be honest. Given my partner is Labor Senator Louise Pratt, things would be a bit awkward around our place if I didn’t vote Labor. But that’s not the only reason, and it’s certainly not the most important one.
The fact is, whilst I care about maintaining the not-officially-married peace, I also really care about a whole range of other issues including tackling climate change, protecting the working rights of Australians, looking after the most vulnerable in our society and doing the right thing for those of us in the LGBTI community.
That immediately rules out the Liberals for me. I don’t believe Tony Abbott takes climate change seriously. I don’t trust him to look after workers and the poorest and most vulnerable in our society, and his party’s track record on LGBTI rights is terrible. We’re talking about a party that voted against introducing anti-discrimination protection, tolerates people like Cory Bernardi – who likens same-sex marriage to bestiality – and won’t let their MPs have a free vote on marriage equality, referring to it as a “fashion”. Tony Abbott even chose to announce his education policy and talk about educational “values” at a school that refers to homosexuality as an “abomination” and a “perversion”.
So that leaves the Greens and Labor as the two major parties whose policy positions line up closely with the things I care about.
The reason I chose Labor is because I’m a pragmatist and a realist. Or put another way – I’m not so interested in words, I’m interested in what actually gets delivered, and I’m realistic that getting things done can sometimes be slow and imperfect and more than a little bit messy.
The Greens talk big, and I like a lot of what they say, but they rarely compromise, so it’s mostly just shouting from the sidelines. They rarely actually deliver.
Labor delivers. Oftentimes that delivery can be slow, messy, imperfect, but it’s that way because getting things done means taking the whole party, and a majority of Australia and the Parliament, with them. Torturous as it sometimes may be, Labor gets it done in the end. Every major progressive, social reform in this country has been delivered by Labor. Medicare. Superannuation. The Disability Insurance Scheme. Paid Parental Leave. The apology to the Stolen Generation, and a price on carbon. All of these are thanks to Labor.
And it’s the same story on LGBTI rights.
Throughout Australian history, Labor has consistently been the party responsible for delivering all the major reforms we now enjoy. I’m talking decriminalising homosexuality, introducing anti-discrimination protections, and enabling LGBTI people to access reproductive technologies and be recognised as parents.
In the last six years, the Federal Labor Government has been pretty busy when it comes to delivering the goods for us. The list of deliverables is pretty impressive. In 2008 they amended 85 laws to remove discrimination against same-sex couples and their children. In 2011 they fixed passport policy for trans and intersex people. In 2012 they began issuing Certificates of No Impediment so same-sex couples could marry overseas, released the first-ever National LGBTI Aged Care & Mental Health Strategies (with funding!), and introduced marriage equality bills into Parliament.
This year alone, they extended Paid Parental leave to same-sex couples, adopted the recommendations in the Human Rights Commission’s Sex Files Report by issuing new guidelines for the recognition of sex and gender in Commonwealth documents, addressed issues within Medicare that prevented trans and intersex people receiving rebates for some medical procedures, and amended the Sex Discrimination Act to include protection on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status, including the removal of exemptions for religious organisations providing aged care.
No other federal government in the history of Australia has delivered so much for the LGBTI community. Certainly, no other government – state or federal – in the history of Australia has delivered anywhere near approaching this for trans and intersex people.
I reckon that record of delivery alone is worth my vote.
Then there’s the promise of more still to come, including the re-introduction of a marriage equality bill in the first 100 days of a new government, spending $8 million tackling homophobia and transphobia in schools, and making LGBTI rights advocacy a core foreign policy priority, as well as continuing to work closely with the LGBTI community to address HIV, mental health, and trans and intersex surgery issues. And as Kevin Rudd showed in his take-down of a homophobic pastor on Q&A (watch it, if you’ve not seen it yet) his commitment to getting these things done is absolute.
In short – Labor has always delivered for the LGBTI community. They intend to KEEP delivering. And for those reasons, it’s Labor all the way for me.
(Also, Penny Wong. Because how good is she?)