MEMBERS of the NSW LGBTI community will next month get the opportunity to question key politicians about issues affecting LGBTI people.

The Q&A-style community forum will take place ahead of the NSW State Election on March 28.

The panel includes upper house Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi, Sydney state independent MP Alex Greenwich, upper house National Party MP Trevor Khan, Coogee state Liberal MP Bruce Notley-Smith, and upper house Labor MP Penny Sharpe.

Greenwich, Notley-Smith and Sharpe are openly-gay, while Faruqi and Khan are their parties’ respective LGBTI spokespersons.

The forum is organised LGBTI community organisations including the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL), the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association (SGLBA), the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, and ACON.

The event will also be hosted moderated by SBS World News presenter Anton Enus.

NSW GLRL co-convenor Justin Koonin said: “It is important for our communities to know exactly where the key parties and independents stand on issues affecting them.

“The forum will provide an opportunity to hear these views on a wide range of topics, and also to ask questions directly to the candidates.”

Anti-discrimination law, service provision, policing, parenting, and the forced divorce of couples where one half undergoes gender transition are among the topics that will be discussed.

“There remain significant exemptions in anti-discrimination law for religious organisations, meaning that schools run by a religious organisation can legally expel a gay student or fire a teacher,” Koonin said.

He also stressed there were gaps in the provision of services for LGBTI people in domestic violence centres, hospitals and health centres, and homelessness refuges.

“Moreover, intersex, trans* and gender diverse people continue to face discrimination on issues including forced divorce for trans* people, and coerced sterilisation of intersex people,” Koonin said.

“It is important that we listen to the voices of those affected directly.”

Lobbyists also hope that NSW’s election campaign will see LGBTI issues in the spotlight, particularly following its unprecedented interest in the recent Victorian state elections.

Mardi Gras co-chair Fran Bowron said: “We encourage all members of our communities to use this opportunity to participate further in the ongoing discussions and have your voice heard.”

Twitter users will be able to keep track of the debate with the #rainbowvotes hashtag.


Where: Turner Hall, Ultimo TAFE (Sydney)

When: 6.30pm, February 25


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