By Dr Christopher Pepin-Neff

As Australia celebrates the 2022 International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia & Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) on Tuesday, 17 May, another day looms large, the May 21 federal election. Together, these days represent an important statement about where the LGBTQI community is going in 2022 and beyond as we face a resurgence of hate-fueled stigma. 

In 2021, the 31st annual IDAHOBIT was blemished by Peter Dutton. Last May, the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age reported that “the Defence Minister had ordered his department and serving military personnel to stop events with “particular clothes in celebration” after Defence held morning teas where staff wore rainbow clothing to mark IDAHOBIT.” Previously, Peter Dutton also noted publicly that he voted NO on the marriage equality postal survey.  

Now Peter Dutton stands in the wings to inherit the Prime Minister role from Scott Morrison if the Coalition is re-elected. The Religious Discrimination Bill will also certainly pass and become the law of the land and will harm transgender Australians. 

On the other side of politics is the Labor Party, which has demonstrated a limited degree of backbone on LGBTQI issues. Recognising the important amendments that were proposed to protect LGBTQI youth, Labor still danced with the Liberals on the idea of the need for a Religious Discrimination Bill in the first place. In its place should be an effort to ban conversion therapy across all states.

Australia Should Be in a Place of Global Leadership on Queer, Trans and Intersex Rights

IDAHOBIT is celebrated across 132 countries, and Australia should be in a place of global leadership on queer, trans and intersex rights. But are we there? Will a “Don’t Say Gay” be passed in the next parliament or in the states? This is a time for pivotal leadership to set a course that does more than change laws and policies but educates the minds of the Australian people toward an inclusive vision of equality. 

New South Wales MP and Independent Alex Greenwich has introduced the “Equality Bill”, which he tweeted is “a bill to remove all discrimination against LGBTIQA+ in NSW law.” This represents the type of vision that is needed moving forward and worthy of an IDAHOBIT in 2022. However, whether it is the Equality Bill in NSW or the Equality Act in the U.S. Congress, these pieces of legislation form the basis of a conversation about where we want to go as a community. 

2022 should see the more widespread adoption of transgender or transition-related leave with pay, and more intersectional adoption of issues close to the Indigenous community, like the adoption of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. 

There is more work to do, but this month’s IDAHOBIT and federal election demonstrates the potential of a significant step forward or one step back. 

Christopher Pepin-Neff, PhD, is a senior lecturer in public policy at the University of Sydney. His research focuses on LGBTQIA+ politics.

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