A packed NSW GLRL’s Politicians Say Something forum on Thursday saw an unprecedented cross-party commitment to the GLBTI community on funding Mardi Gras and rolling out the Proud Schools anti-homophobia trial.
Liberal Don Harwin and National Trevor Khan reiterated the Coalition’s pledge to fund Mardi Gras and help the organisation create new events, while Independent Clover Moore said she’d continue doing everything she could to support Mardi Gras in Parliament and through the City of Sydney.
Labor’s Verity Firth (pictured) said her Government had found Mardi Gras returned “more bang for your buck” from funding compared to other events, while the Greens Cate Faehrmann kept it brief.
“The Greens love Mardi Gras,” she said. “Support it.”
On Proud Schools, Khan said both the Nationals and Liberals were committed to the program, and Harwin said he had spoken with the Coalition education spokesman who confirmed it would be rolled out so long as the pilot was successful.
Moore said more vigilance about homophobia was needed in schools, and that the results of its absence had all too often been seen on inner city streets.
The Greens supported the rolling out of the program but would fight to make it compulsory in private schools. They would also fight for the removal of exemptions in the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act and warned that if the Act was not reformed, there would be a growing problem for gay seniors with church groups controlling 70 percent of the residential aged-care market.
Firth and Moore were troubled by exemptions in the Act but acknowledged they had been critical in winning over MPs in votes on recent gay rights reforms, while Khan said it was not the time to begin pushing for reform of the Act as it would damage the fight for marriage equality.
All present supported same-sex marriage. However, they were divided on the value of state marriage legislation if the federal Government continued to drag its feet.
Harwin and Firth said it was important the focus remain federal so same-sex married couples from NSW would have their relationships recognised across the country, while Khan warned federal politicians might use state marriage laws “as an excuse to not actually address the issue”.
“It has got to be done federally and it has got to be done as soon as possible,” he said.
Firth said she and colleagues in the Labor Party would push hard to make same-sex marriage federal ALP policy at the party’s upcoming national conference.
Moore and Faehrmann said reform at a federal level was their first priority and the end goal, but if change took too long they would push for it in the NSW Parliament.
Asked why gay men who practised safe sex were still not allowed to give blood, Firth, Harwin and Khan said they did not understand why it was still the case.
Moore admitted she had thought the issue dealt with and would look at what could be done, while Faehrmann said the Greens opposed the ban.