Jack Whitney, co-convenor of the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, Social Worker and self-confessed “Policy Geek,” grew up in Hillsong territory but didn’t let that environment stop him from living his best life.
“Although living now in the glorious Inner West, I grew up in Sydney’s Hills District, colloquially known as the “Bible belt” and the birthplace of Hillsong. I spent a lot of my time in this community and school surrounded by many conservative, sometimes religious, members of the community. It was with these folk that I attended a church and youth group, and, eventually, came out to at age 16.”
‘People Are Complex and Cannot Be Broken Down to a Single Element’
“This coming-of-age experience as a young gay man showed me that people are complex and cannot be broken down to a single element.”
Being co-convenor of NSW GLRL has Whitney dealing with some of the most troubling bills coming through parliament, including the aftermath of Bills from the likes of One Nation and Mark Latham.
“During my time in this space, I have been involved in mostly putting out fires with One Nation in NSW. This has included their Education bill and Religious Freedoms Bill, as well as their bills that posed to change how we handle discrimination complaints in NSW.”
Bringing the Voices of the Community Into the Public
“My role as convenor of the lobby has been about bringing the voices of the community into the public, working with other community organisations and peak bodies, speaking with politicians and decision-makers and doing media around these issues.”
“Now it’s time for meaningful reform. Going back isn’t the same as going forwards. That’s why the Equality Bill is so important.”
Speaking of the Equality Bill, announced in March, Whitney is passionate about what it could mean for the LGBTQI community, saying, “The omnibus bill ensures equal rights for all of us. The proposed bill is an important and watershed moment for NSW. It will bring us in line with modern anti-discrimination legislation and protections for all people.”
Whitney also tags access to healthcare as being one of the most common complaints people have, saying, “Locally in NSW, many voice issues to accessing healthcare. Access to healthcare is a significant barrier for many in the community locally, especially trans and gender diverse people.”
“But luckily, the NSW Government has just announced the first LGBTIQ+ Health Centre in NSW, with plans to be operational March 2023,” he added.