Guest column

Lainie Arnold is a co-convenor of the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby.

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Last week the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby celebrated the changes to the Sex Discrimination Act (1984), to include sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status as protected attributes with a party at the Bank Hotel in Newtown.  We were thrilled to be joined by the Health Minister, the Hon. Tanya Plibersek, as well as a representative for Andrea Durbach, Director of the Australian Human Rights Centre.  We were also very excited to see some of our friends in State Parliament, including Penny Sharpe MLC and Trevor Khan MLC, and newly appointed MLC Mehreen Faruqi, in attendance.  It was great to also see a number of community leaders there that night from ACON, Mardi Gras, Aurora, Organisation Intersex International, the Inner City Legal Centre and the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, to name a few.

Tanya Plibersek rightly told us to take time to stop and smell the roses, and to celebrate our victories.  She pointed out in her speech that while it is still a sad reality that the queer community will still experience discrimination, we now know that the law will be there to support us if we need it.

The evening was a great opportunity to acknowledge the hard work done by many people over a very long time to achieve protection for gay men and lesbians at a federal level.  A Bill to this end was first tabled in Parliament in 1995, and campaigning for federal protection started in 1985, so this achievement has been nearly 30 years in the making.  And it would not have been achieved today without the contributions made by a number of people over many years.

However, this is not the end of the road to equality, and there is still lobbying work to be done to protect members of our community. During this election period the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby will be working to get commitment from parties regarding marriage equality, and we will continue campaigning for the removal of the exemptions from anti-discrimination laws that religious organisations currently enjoy.  We will continue campaigning until all organisations that receive tax-payer funds are bound by anti-discrimination laws.

To hear more about our ongoing work, or to get involved, visit the website at glrl.org.au.

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