simon copland 420x470Earlier this year, I wrote a piece about my priorities for an election year.

With a new Prime Minister, lots of policy changes, and a new election date, I thought it would be worth revisiting.

Of course, as expected, marriage equality will be a big issue this year. Who wins the election is likely to define whether any legislation will be passed in the next term (if the ALP wins) or delayed indefinitely (if the Coalition wins). Keeping the Greens in the Senate will also have a big impact.

But if the recent months have shown anything, it is that there are many more issues out there, and issues that are arguably more important than marriage.

The first is asylum seekers. The last few weeks have shown just how low we can go on this issue and with the unfortunate high level of violence against women in PNG, and with the Government confirming that gay men will be settled there despite the threat of imprisonment, it has also taken on a particularly queer bent.

There is still a range of sex and gender discrimination on our books we must continue to work to get rid of. The recent release of a Senate report showing the widespread use of forced medical procedures against intersex people is extremely worrying. That committee will provide recommendations after the election.

Still on the health theme, we must continue to push to ensure we have a strong mental health system. I am deeply concerned by the fact that both our potential Mental Health Ministers have a long history of homophobia, and we need to watch to make sure that doesn’t come through in future policy.

The same can be said for sexual health. The funding cuts to the Queensland Association for Healthy Communities, and to the Biala sexual health clinic by the Queensland Government, set a worrying precedent that we must demand will not be pursued by any incoming government.

On top of all of this, we still have the ability for religious organizations and employers to discriminate against queer people, the need for comprehensive sex-ed in schools and the violence against many in our community. And these are just the ‘queer issues’ – let’s not get started on the range of issues around health care, climate change, the economy and education that impact us all.

Elections provide a unique opportunity to demand more from our politicians and actively change the future of our country. It is easy to get sick of it all and just hide until it is all done.

But with so many important issues on the agenda we can’t let that happen. We can, and should, expect these issues be addressed.

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