A week into the GLRL’s 58 ’08 campaign and over 460 members of our community and their friends have sent letters to the Attorney-General, telling their personal stories of discrimination, and demanding the prompt removal of the 58 discriminatory laws.
Michael from NSW wrote of not being able to receive the Bereavement Allowance on his partner’s death only four weeks ago. Lyn from the UK was astounded to discover that a person with a same-sex partner on a 457 visa wanting to change to another type of visa would have to choose between their love of Australia and their love for their partner. And Susan and Amanda from WA, together for more than 25 years, told the Attorney General of their decades-long wait for superannuation equality. Every day that [the Government] delay[s] has a potentially devastating impact on someone’s future financial stability. A stability that other Commonwealth employees take for granted, but not us, even though we contribute to the fund on the same terms as everyone else.
As we celebrate 30 years of the Mardi Gras Parade this weekend, let’s remember what started this world-renowned event in 1978. We marched then to stop the arbitrary arrest of gays and lesbians, against police brutality, to be proud of whom we love and, above all, for equality. Now, we march with police, we march with the Defence Force, and we march with parents and friends, Anglicans, Jews, and with the Federal Human Rights Commissioner to celebrate who we are. So when Philip Jensen writes about the shame that we gays and lesbians should feel, we say, strongly, that the only thing we should feel ashamed about is the continued discrimination that our community faces.
We have come a long way since 1978, but as the stories sent to the Attorney-General show, we are far from equal. We will march, once again, on Saturday to celebrate our community and whom we love -“ our creativity, our uniqueness and our pride. In many respects, we are marching for the same reasons we marched 30 years ago. The march for equality continues -¦ and it’s not over until we’re equal.
[Please note that some names have been changed.]
Emily Gray and Peter Johnson are the co-convenors of the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby.