STAR Observer has wrapped up a huge 2016 with a festive celebration and a keynote speech from Australian Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs telling the LGBTI to toughen up in the face of criticism.
Triggs addressed a room of community leaders, business representatives and politicians citing the legal achievements for the LGBTI community across the country including the abolishment of the gay panic defence in Queensland, South Australia making it easier to change gender on birth certificates, naming parents of the same-sex on a child’s birth certificate, allowing same-sex parents to adopt, and the various apologies from state leaders to LGBTI people.
Triggs also spoke of some of the lowlights for the LGBTI community in 2016 including the hateful rhetoric about trans people, the Safe Schools program and marriage equality.
“Some cartoonists have actually described marriage equality supporters as members of the gestapo,” Triggs said.
“Up to a point I say we’ve all got to toughen up, when they reach to the bottom of the barrel to start comparing us to Nazis, I think they’ve run out of arguments.
“I say this with some passion in my heart because a few weeks ago there were five cartoons about me in The Australian in one week, and one of them had me as a stormtrooper enforcing human rights on the Australian public.
“So maybe we all have to get used to this, but it is of course a disgrace.”
Triggs said 2017 could be a better year but “we have got to stand up and speak out or the cause will be lost”.
Federal Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek followed and had the perfect clap back when she was introduced to the crowd by Star Observer’s publisher Daniel Bone as Tanya ‘Plebiscite’ – Labor blocked the marriage equality plebiscite legislation and did not support the public vote on the issue.
“What Daniel didn’t tell you is that my middle name is ‘Anti’,” Plibersek jokingly shot back.
“The Star has done a great job in highlighting many issues over the past four decades and I hope that we can continue to work together to support marriage equality, to support Safe Schools for all the reasons people have outlined tonight.”
Australia’s first openly gay member in the House of Representatives, Trent Zimmerman read a message from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
“Star Observer is a fabulous organisation, it has been an important part of the four decades of a witness to and an advocate for change to break the barriers of discrimination for the LGBTI community. I congratulate the readers and the Star for the sense of community and inclusion,” the PM said in the message.
In his speech, Zimmerman urged the community to move on from the defeated plebiscite and to find a new way to achieve marriage equality.
“This has been a year of mixed results. A lot of people have alluded to Orlando, in a world where we become immune to the report of a terrorist attack… you had people from our own community deliberately targeted. It had quite a profound affect on me,” he said.
“We’ve had the plebiscite debate and we must move on in a way that marriage equality is delivered to this country.”
Other speakers on the night included City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, Councillor Linda Scott and NSW MPs Jenny Leong and Alex Greenwich.