Emily Gray and Pete Johnson are the new convenors of the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby following last week’s annual general meeting.
Gray recently worked as a researcher on the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Same-Sex: Same Entitlements report, which will be the focus of the Lobby’s work over the five weeks leading up the federal election.
We’re running a campaign called Build Your Own Pink House, the largest ever survey of MPs, electoral candidates, and all the parties on relationship recognition, parenting, GLBT health, and their commitment to anti-discrimination protections, Gray said.
We’ve very aware that gay and lesbian people don’t vote only on the basis of equality issues, but we would encourage people to bear those issues in mind because they do impact on our community as a whole.
Gray’s experience with HREOC included travelling around the country to talk to urban and regional gay and lesbian communities.
One of the most powerful tools when lobbying is real experiences, real people’s stories. We need to keep meeting and lobbying politicians. Getting these laws implemented has to take place at a very top level, cabinet as well as local members, she said.
Gray said the Lobby would continue to seek more concrete commitments from the major and minor parties.
The committee of largely fresh faces is joined by two high profile previous convenors, Dave Scamell and Somali Cerise. Kellie McDonald was elected secretary and Ben Keats as treasurer.
The presence of ACON employees continues this year with Siri May and Carl Harris, along with Scamell.
Many are current ALP members, including Matt Strassberg, a former state minister’s chief of staff, and Johnson, the National Union of Students queer officer.
As convenor, Johnson said he could keep the roles separate and would not be active in Rainbow Labor while convenor.
The Lobby has to be critical, having an independent non-partisan approach, Johnson said.
It has to be able to put the needs of the community first with any party, particularly the government that’s in power.
The Lobby is an organisation that has an amazing history and a good standing both within the community and parliamentarians, and has the ability to achieve real change and outcomes for queer people.

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