AUSTRALIA’S first openly gay Aboriginal member of parliament, Chansey Paech, has used his maiden speech to champion marriage equality and condemn homophobia in government.
Speaking at the opening 13th parliament of the Northern Territory yesterday, Labor’s member for Namatjira said it was a dream of his to be able to stand proud in the future and talk about the positive difference he had made.
“I am young, I am gay, I am black; a true-blue Territorian.
“I am a proud face of the diversity and future of the Labor party.”
Born in Alice Springs to an Aboriginal woman and a German immigrant, Paech said politics was always in his blood.
Ten years ago he was given a membership form to join the Labor party and in 2012 was elected as an Alice Springs town councillor.
He said that his journey has come at a price that some people accept and others refuse.
However, he refuses to accept behaviours that cause harm, offence, or humiliate ‘our people’, and intends to do the same in government.
“This Chamber will always be a place for members to explore the wonders of diversity, to represent interest groups and participate in robust discussions,” he said.
“But I will never allow or tolerate discrimination, homophobia, or hate speech in this Assembly.”
Paech previously told the Star Observer that the people of Namatjira didn’t define him by his sexuality, but he recognised his election as a landmark moment in Australia’s history.
“Becoming a member of parliament as a gay Aboriginal man is a good representation and reflects well on the Northern Territory and it sends a really good message to our young people,” he said.
Paech was excited by his new role and in parliament yesterday, he ended his speech on an excited note.
“I am a Centralian man. I am the nation’s first openly gay Indigenous parliamentarian,” he said.
“I am eternally proud of who I am and where I come from. I own it and wear it with pride.”