This year marks the 25th anniversary of the formation of the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby. When the GLRL was established at a public meeting at Heffron Hall in Darlinghurst in 1988, gay and lesbian rights were still in their infancy in this state.
It was only four years since homosexuality had been decriminalised in New South Wales, and there were fears that with a new Liberal government elected, the new laws might be rolled back, and funding cut to organisations including the AIDS Council of New South Wales (now ACON) and Twenty10.
Twenty-five years on, we are on the brink of legislative equality for gay and lesbian people in this state. To be sure, there are victories still to be won – particularly full marriage equality, and comprehensive anti-discrimination protection.
However we are far closer to the end of the legislative reform project than the beginning, and we have won many significant victories. The first relationship recognition laws in the country (1999), an equal age of consent (2003), and laws granting de facto equality to same sex couples at a federal level (2008) are just a few of these.
We can look back with pride and admiration at all those who have fought for us in the past, without whom we would not be able to enjoy the freedoms we now take for granted.
We also think it is time to celebrate! Please put the evening of Wednesday October 23 in your diaries, as we will be holding a very special cocktail party inside Parliament House to celebrate all that has been achieved. We will be joined by many of our allies within parliament and outside, from the present and years gone by. Stay tuned for more details.
Of course legislative reform alone is not enough, and in some ways our work is only just beginning. What is needed is not just to change our laws, but to change the hearts and minds of the people of Australia.
According to the Writing Themselves In 3 report from La Trobe University, 61 per cent of sex, sexuality and/or gender diverse young people have experienced verbal abuse because of homophobia or transphobia, and 18 per cent have experienced physical abuse, with 80 per cent of this abuse happening in a school environment.
While our young people continue to suffer discrimination, while our elderly people continue to feel unsafe in nursing homes, while people who are sex and gender diverse continue to fight for their rights, we are not yet done.
The GLRL does not receive any ongoing government support, and we rely on our community to continue the work we do. If you are able, we would love you to become one of our Silver Supporters (https://www.givenow.com.au/glrl).
We thank you for your contribution over the past 25 years, and hope you will continue supporting the fight for equality and social justice.