The Rainbow seems to be taking over the New South Wales legislative council. On Tuesday, openly gay Liberal MLC Shayne Mallard was elected the government whip in the legislative council. And on Thursday, came news that Labor had elected openly lesbian MLC Penny Sharpe as the Leader of the Opposition in the legislative council.

The appointments to the top Parliamentary posts come as two anti-LGBTQI Bill are being pushed through NSW Parliament – the Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill 2020 and  “religious freedom” amendment to the NSW Discrimination Act – by One Nation MP Mark Latham. 

Outgoing NSW MLC Fred Nile of the Christian Democratic Party and his successor Lyle Shelton have also announced their intention to introduce a Bill to ban care and treatment being provided to trans and gender diverse children. 

Historic Appointment For Gender Equality

Both, Sharpe and Mallard are leading a cross party group Parliamentary Friends of the LGBTQI+ Community that is pushing for a law in NSW to ban the so-called gay conversion therapies. 

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Sharpe’s election is historic as she is  also the first woman to be appointed Leader of the Opposition in the NSW Legislative Council’s 165 year history. 

Sharpe posted on social media, adding that she and deputy opposition leader of the legislative council John Graham had “a big job ahead but we are ready.”

“Truly humbled and excited to be elected the Leader of the Opposition in the NSW Legislative Council. I am the first woman to hold this position in the 165 year history of the NSW Upper House,” said Sharpe. 

Sharpe had last month resigned from the NSW Labor front bench and as deputy leader of the upper house in opposition to the party’s support of the controversial Mandatory Disease Testing Bill.

Out & In NSW Parliament

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Sharpe was the first openly lesbian person to serve in the New South Wales parliament. She has served as a member of the legislative council since 2005 and held the cabinet positions of shadow minister for disability inclusion and shadow minister for family and community services.

Mallard thanked his colleagues for his election as the government whip. “Honoured to have been elected by my parliamentary colleagues to the position of Government Whip in the Legislative Council. Now the real work begins,” Mallard posted on Twitter. 

Mallard, had recently chaired a bipartican Parliamentary committee that recommended a judicial inquiry into the spate of murders of gay men and trans persons across Sydney between 1970 and 2010. 

Mallard was first elected to the NSW Legislative Council in 2015. Mallard is openly gay and  married his partner Jesper Hansen in 2014.

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