Attacks on the LGBTQI community could translate into less votes for political parties. A new poll suggests Liberal candidates could face defeat in NSW marginal seats of Wentworth and Parramatta over Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s refusal to act against anti-LGBTQI statements made by his “captain’s pick” candidate Katherine Deves. 

Polling conducted in the seats of Parramatta and Wentworth by Redbridge Group for national LGBTQI advocacy organisation Equality Australia revealed that debates critical of the community “costs at least twice as many votes as it secures”.

Much of recent federal election discussions have veered to LGBTQI issues, after Morrison’s “captain’s pick” candidate for the seat of Warringah Katherine Deves was found to have made statements against the LGBTQI community in now-deleted posts on Twitter. Morrison refused to sack Deves and has endorsed a private member’s bill by Senator Claire Chandler that seeks to bar trans women from competing in female sports.

Liberal Candidates Could Face Drubbing In Wentworth & Parramatta, Poll Shows

The anti-LGBTQI discussions have now shown to be not without consequences for the Liberal party. Liberal MP Dave Sharma of Wentworth faces the prospect of a defeat at the hands of Independent candidate Allegra Spender with a two-party preferred vote of 47 per cent to 53 per cent, News.com.au reported.

Spender had called for Deves to be disendorsed for her past statements attacking the LGBTQI community. 

Sharma, who was one of the five Liberal MPs who crossed the floor of the House to vote for amendments to protect gay and trans students, has still polled a higher primary vote of 36.6 per cent compared to Spender’s 24.3 per cent. Sharma is also being targeted by  the Australian Christian Lobby, which blames him and the four other Liberal MPs for sinking Morrison’s Religious Discrimination bill. 

In Sydney’s Western suburb of Parramatta, Labor candidate Andrew Charleton appears to be cruising to victory with a primary vote share of 32.4 per cent. 

Anti-LGBTQI Debates Cost Votes

“The people of Wentworth and Parramatta agree with what we know the overwhelming majority of the community believe – people should be treated with dignity and respect, and be free to live their lives free from discrimination, no matter who we are, who we love, or whether we are trans or not,” Jackie Turner, Trans Equality Advocate at Equality Australia said in a statement.

Turner pointed out that after  weeks of coverage of “cruel, dehumanising misinformation used by some to divide the community and attack trans and gender diverse people, particularly trans women”, the research had shown that ordinary Australians stand in solidarity with the LGBTQI community.  

“The kind of misinformation and abuse that has been directed at trans women in particular during this campaign contributes to the extreme levels of marginalisation that trans people experience, and results in some of the worst mental health outcomes in the Australian community,” said Turner. 

According to Equality Australia, the polling suggested that “debate critical of the LGBTIQ+ community costs at least twice as many votes as it secures”. 

Less Likely To Vote For Candidates With Anti-LGBTQI Views

(From left to right) Tasmanian Senator Claire Chandler, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Liberal candidate Katherine Deves.

Parramatta voters said the rising cost of living, economy and climate change were the top three issues for them at this election. Around 2 per cent of voters said LGBTQI issues would be an important factor in determining their vote. More importantly 38.4 per cent of voters in Parramatta said they were less likely to vote for a candidate who is critical of LGBTQI people. 

Climate change, economy and national security and defence were the top three issues for voters in Wentworth. Around 2.3 per cent of voters said LGBTQI issues are important for them. And just over half or around 50.3 per cent of the voters in Wentworth said they were unlikely to vote for a candidate who was critical of LGBTQI people. 

Voters were very clear that they support the LGBTQI community and were against discrimination. Around three in four voters said that trans and gender diverse people deserve the same rights and protections as other Australians. 

In both the marginal seats, one in three voters support laws that ban faith-based schools from refusing to enrol/ recruit or expel/ sack LGBTQI students or staff because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

Equality Australia’s Open Letter

“The people of Parramatta and Wentworth firmly believe that our laws should protect all of us, equally,” said Turner.

“This election, we call on all political parties to commit to removing the outdated carve-outs to our laws that allow religious schools to expel, fire or discriminate against students and staff because of who they are, or whom they love,” added Turner.

In an open letter, Equality Australia has called on all candidates to “treat LGBTIQ+ people with dignity and respect, and to campaign in a way that does not undermine the community’s health and wellbeing.” 

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