The parliamentary career of openly gay federal senator and long-time LGBTI rights advocate Louise Pratt is at risk due to infighting between union movements in her home state of Western Australia.
The West Australian newspaper reported today the Labor senator’s candidacy on the WA senate ticket was threatened due to a disagreement between Australian Metal Workers Union, which backs Pratt, and the hospitality union United Voice.
The AMWU was accused of repeatedly trying to do deals behind the rest of the WA Labor Left movement.
United Voice WA secretary Carolyn Smith said they were sick of “game-playing” with the AMWU.
“We have told the AMWU that our support for her is not guaranteed and we have our own person in the mix,” Smith said.
Pratt is one of a few openly gay federal parliamentarians including Finance Minster Penny Wong and WA Liberal senator Dean Smith.
Pratt was a strong campaigner for lobby group Gay and Lesbian Equality before she was elected to the Upper House of the WA state Parliament in 2001.
The Labor MLC played a pivotal role in shepherding through the wide range of gay law reforms through Parliament in 2002, alongside openly gay Greens MLC Giz Watson.
In 2007, Pratt was elected to the federal Parliament.
There she has advocated for LGBTI rights, including in her role on the Legal and Constitutional Affairs—Legislation Committee.
The committee has engaged with the public on LGBTI issues including the 85 gay and lesbian federal law reforms passed in 2008 and the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012 which included federal protections for LGBTI people before it was shelved.
She has also supported marriage equality and gave an impassioned speech on the issue last year just days before the vote.
“I ask senators in this chamber to remember, when they are deciding how to vote, we exist, we already exist, our relationships exist, our children exist, our families exist, our marriages exist and our love exists,” Pratt said.
“All we ask is that you stop pretending that we don’t. Stop pretending that our relationships are not as real as yours, our love not as true, our children not as cherished, our families not as precious—because they are.”
Preselections will be held on April 15 and United Voice secretary Carolyn Smith has said they would be putting up their own candidate, United Voice WA assistant state secretary Kelly Shay.
Shay has previously attended same-sex marriage rallies in Perth where she publicly supported the same-sex marriage.
Pratt said she was confident her broad support in WA Labor would be reflected in the April 15 preselection.
The senator is also the first federal politician to have a transgender partner.