The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby is incredibly disappointed by recent homophobic statements made by federal Opposition leader Tony Abbott.
Abbott said he felt “threatened” by homosexuals and that homosexuality “challenges… orthodox notions of the right order of things”. These comments are not only offensive and archaic, but are also out of step with recent legislative changes recognising lesbians, gay, men and their families, granting them the same legal rights as our heterosexual counterparts.
Abbott’s remarks remind us that social justice for gay men, lesbians and their families remains a divisive and fraught political issue. While lesbians, gay men and their families are now largely recognised under most NSW and federal laws, there are still gaps which allow direct legislative discrimination against same-sex couples.
Currently the NSW Adoption Act does not allow same-sex couples to apply to adopt children in their care.
This discrimination does not serve the best interest of children in same-sex families as it denies them access to rights, benefits and entitlements afforded by the legal relationship between parent and child.
The federal Marriage Act also prohibits same-sex couples from marrying by defining marriage as a ‘union between a man and a woman’.
There are also no federal anti-discrimination provisions protecting people from unfair discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Many of us may disregard Abbott’s statements as ridiculously outdated, however, we cannot assume others will do the same. Abbott’s statements are a reminder to all of us that while we have come a long way in terms of legislative equality, there are those in the community who still think of us as second-class citizens.
We need to continue to be active in our fight for equality and social justice. We need to request meetings with our local MPs to discuss the need for positive law reform for lesbians, gay men and their families, because if we don’t, we risk the conservative opinions of people like Abbott becoming a political reality.

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