Australia has elected one of its most diverse Parliaments, as the country voted against attempts by former Prime Minister Scott Morrison to push wedge politics to the national stage for electoral gains.
While the media attention was focussed on the ‘teal wave’, this election showed that the ‘pink wave’ was here to stay. There are eight out gay, lesbian and bisexual members of parliament, with Labor Senator and foreign minister Penny Wong emerging as one of the most powerful LGBTQI political leaders in Australia.
Some out gay Liberal MPs were voted out, but in good news a more progressive Parliament was voted in. The eight out members in the House of Representatives and the Senate include, Senator Wong, Senator Loiuse Pratt, Senator Dean Smith, Senator Janet Rice, Senator Nita Green, MP Julian Hill, MP Angie Bell and MP Stephen Bates.
“We are especially thankful to all the advocates and organisations who worked to defeat the Religious Discrimination Bill and look forward to working with all parties to ensure LGBTIQ+ students and teachers are properly protected from discrimination,” said Spirovska.
Star Observer takes a look at the Gay and Lesbian members of Australia’s Parliament.
Twenty-nine-year-old Stephene Bates is the newest out gay MP to be elected to the Parliament at the 2022 federal elections from the seat of Brisbane.
The incoming Greens MP, a retail worker scored a major upset when he defected out gay Liberal MP and former head of the National Retail Association, Trevor Evans. Bates had already won the gay vote, when his election ads on gay dating app Grindr featured such gems like “The best parliaments are hung”, “Put Stephen Bates on top this election” and “Spice up Canberra with a third”.
Member for Moncreiff Angie Bell was the only out gay Liberal MP to be returned to the new Parliament.
Bell was the first out gay woman to represent a major party in the House of Representatives when she was elected to the Parliament for the first time in 2019 (the first out gay woman to be elected to the Australian Parliament was independent Kerryn Phelps).
Bell is in a long term relationship with her partner Ros and the couple have four children.
Julian Hill, out gay member for Bruce, first entered Parliament in 2016. “As a Rainbow Labor member my election is a very small step to adding to the diversity of this parliament, and I am proud to see more LGBTI Australians in this parliament than the last,” Hill had said in his first speech in Parliament.
During the vote on Morrison government’s anti-LGBTQI Religious Discrimination Bill, Hill had said that “a Labor Government would introduce genuine protection from religious discrimination, without removing existing rights. And protect ALL kids from discrimination & bullying.”
In his maiden speech to the Parliament in 2016, Hill acknowledged his two long-time partners Lorien and David.
Liberal Senator Dean Smith entered the senate in 2012 and was the first out gay federal parliamentarian in the Liberal party’s history.
Smith had opposed same-sex marriages, but his views changed after the 2014 Sydney Lindt cafe siege. The death of cafe manager Tori Johnson, who was gay and had left behind his partner, changed the Senator’s views on gay marriages, Smith said.
Labor Senator Louise Pratt entered the Parliament for the first time in 2008. She was the second out lesbian in Parliament and the first to have a trans partner, Aram Hosie, transgender man and activist.
Pratt, along with three of her Senate colleagues introduced the Marriage Amendment Bill 2012 in the Senate. The legislation failed to pass. “We exist. We already exist… all we ask is that you stop pretending that we don’t,” Pratt had said in her speech in the Parliament while introducing the bill.
Pratt was the first out gay Parliamentarian to give birth to a baby while in office.
Senator Nita Green was elected to the senate for the first time at the 2019 federal elections.
Green and her wife Lacey had a baby girl earlier this year and Green became Queensland’s first gay parliamentarian to have a baby while in office.
“My wife Lacey and I are very pleased to announce the birth of baby Stevie. Bub is doing well and we are absolutely smitten,” Senator Green posted on social media.
Senator Janet Rice
Greens Senator Janet Rice was first elected to the senate in 2014. Rice, came out as bisexual after her wife late Penny Whetton’s gender transition.
Rice has spoken out against Scott Morrison’s Religious Discrimination bill, so-called conversion therapy, supported same-sex marriages and ending discrimination against gay and trans students and teachers.
In a 2019 piece for the Star Observer, senator Rice called on “all Australians, especially cisgender, heterosexual Australians, to stand with and support your LGBTIQ+ family, friends and communities to make sure governments continue to remove discrimination from our laws and from our society.”
Senator Penny Wong
Earlier this year in a Roy Morgan poll, Labor Senator Penny Wong was voted as Australia’s most trusted politician today. Senator Wong who first entered the Senate in 2002, was last month appointed Australia’s foreign minister by the country’s new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
“I’ve never sought to be a role model but I have come to understand that you can’t be what you can’t see,” said Wong, who is the of of the most high profile LGBTQI political leaders in the country today.