The major parties vying for seats at the upcoming federal election all have their share of LGBTIQ+ voters. Dean Arcuri speaks to a handful of them.
The federal election is almost upon us, and we have already been besieged with promises and revelations, all to court the queer vote – but which way works best for you and yours?
Have the last four years changed the way LGBTIQ+ people are voting?
Heather has voted Liberal all her life, but this year she will be voting Labor, for the betterment of her family.
“I was raised to believe that the Liberal Party provided a more stable economic future than Labor, and I didn’t really see a difference between the two as I grew older,” she says.
“But it’s because of my son that I’m changing my vote, because I want a better future for him where he is not only supported but can thrive.”
Two years ago, Heather’s son Tom told her he was transgender. Tom is still in school and is not yet able to vote, but him coming out as trans influenced Heather’s decision to avoid voting Liberal this year.
“I had a lot I had to get my head around when Tom told me he was really a boy,” she says.
“I’m lucky there are support groups to help parents so kids can get on with being kids and living their lives, but politically, my child was treated like he was nothing.
“If I can get my head around it, why can’t the politicians? After seeing the way in which gender diverse people have been dismissed politically, or how services set up to make their everyday lives safer have been attacked or disregarded by the Liberal Party, what kind of a parent would I be if I gave them my vote?”
Heather adds that when voters are casting their ballots, they should consider the future that each party’s platform is projecting.
“I agree we shouldn’t just focus on one issue when casting our ballot, but voting is about what we want our future to be,” she says.
“I want a future where my son is seen and accepted for who he is.”
This year Australia has the most complete electoral roll it has ever had, with 98 per cent of eligible Australians enrolled to vote in the federal election – in large part thanks to registrations that were made for the same-sex marriage postal survey.
It was a divisive topic then and still is now for Liberal voter Scott, who admits to having a lot of arguments with other gay friends about the fact that he is continuing to vote Liberal this election.
“I’ve lost friends because I am voting Liberal,” he says.
“But the reality is that we now have legal same-sex marriage in Australia because of the Liberal Party.
“And when focusing on gay issues people keep forgetting that they are the ones that got it across the line.”
He adds that politics isn’t black and white.
“Not every voter for the Liberal Party has a problem with Safe Schools or hates trans people,” he says.
“But unlike the postal survey, we aren’t voting on one single issue. Governing is about more than sexuality, it’s also about financial stability and jobs for the future.
“I keep getting treated like I’m a bad gay because I’m voting Liberal, but more people should vote with their heads and not their hearts, and really think about who they want representing Australia’s future.”
With the rise of minor parties and independents, it can be easy to forget that it’s not all about a two-party system anymore.
Youth enrolment is at an all-time high with 88.8 per cent of young people aged between 18 and 24 enrolled to vote.
For some, like Lucy who is non-binary and bisexual, this is the first time they are voting in a federal election, and they have no doubt about how they will cast their ballot.
“Do I even need to start on how the Liberals threw trans and gender diverse people under the bus during the postal survey? And while it’s nice Labor are throwing money at queer issues, that doesn’t mean they’ll do it,” they laugh.
“The biggest issue in this election shouldn’t be about gender or sexuality, but about climate change and the environment.
“I want to make my vote count for more than just the next four years and that’s why I’m voting Greens.
“We need to stop the Adani mine from going ahead and destroying our land before global warming gets any worse. We need to stop offshore detention and become a country that welcomes and supports and doesn’t just shove people in camps. We need to allow young people to have a voice.”
Lucy says they didn’t come to the decision lightly.
“I looked at Labor and Liberal’s websites and policies, but the Greens were the only party that spoke to me and reflected the kind of Australia I want to live in,” they say.
“They aren’t just about cleaning up the environment, they are about cleaning up politics as well.”
So how are you going to make your vote count? Because whoever ends up in power charts the course for Australia’s future: for who we want to be, how we want to act, and what we want to say.