ALP-community meeting articleIt was a full house at Victorian Labor’s LGBTI community forum last week with more than 50 people joining the lively discussion on possible future law reforms. Opposition leader Daniel Andrews met with fellow Labor MPs and community members on February 13 at the Imperial in Melbourne to talk about LGBTI issues like queer youth and the reforms happening in Victorian schools with Safe Schools Coalition Victoria.

Gender diversity issues were raised including birth certificate reform, infrastructure needs for the Zoe Belle Gender Centre and classification problems for transgender and intersex people in prisons.

Areas including older LGBTI needs, same-sex adoption and the need for Ministerial Advisory Committees (MAC) for certain government departments were also raised.

Labor MPs Jennifer Kanis, Richard Wynne, Jaala Pulford, Jane Garrett, Martin Foley and Fiona Richardson joined the meeting which was closed to the media. Labor MLC Jaala Pulford said they had some great discussions and robust disagreement on some issues.

“It was wonderful to have so many people come and express strongly held views and indeed divergent views on issues important to the community,” she said.

South Yarra resident Callum Downie told the Star Observer he was happy with the level of support emanating from local Labor MPs on LGBTI issues.

“There was a lot of competing interests and a lot of competing groups there and from an outsider’s perspective looking in, [our] side very much has a friend in Daniel Andrews,” he said.

“He obviously wants to progress the cause of equal rights as best as he can under what he is able to do.”

Downie, who is not affiliated with any local LGBTI groups, said some community members were not satisfied the opposition leader was doing enough.

Same-sex marriage was raised but Andrews did not back state-based marriage, using the cross-border twin cities of Albury-Wodonga as an example for real equality.

But Melbourne gay rights advocate Michael Barnett said the forum was more about platitudes than actually doing something useful.

“I came away from the forum left wondering why Labor felt they had to prioritise the issues that queer people and our families face,” he said.

“I am not interested in which issues they think are more important… If they want to know what issues are important to us, they can put a form on their web site, gather a long list and then fight to achieve them all for us, sooner rather than later.”


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