NSW upper house Liberal MP Don Harwin has publicly come out as gay in a speech he presented in State Parliament’s last sitting today.

In his speech, the president of the Legislative Council attributed his parliamentary career to the determination he derived from personal struggles.

He also praised how far LGBTI rights has come for young people today.

“Life is so different for them than it was for me,” said Harwin (pictured above), who is approaching the end of his second eight-year term.

“Much has been achieved since then, and perhaps my travails in less happy times gave me the determination I needed to pursue this role.”

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Harwin said he had been out to parents, friends, and work colleagues for almost 20 years.

His public coming out sees him join fellow party member and Coogee state Liberal MP Bruce Notley-Smith, upper house Labor MPs Penny Sharpe and Helen Westwood, and Sydney state independent MP Alex Greenwich as NSW Parliament’s handful of openly-gay MPs.

In a submission to the 2012 Senate enquiry on marriage equality, Harwin said he wrote that excluding gay couples from the institution of marriage was a form of discrimination.

“It is remarkable how quickly public opinion has shifted and, indeed, our house has voted to support marriage equality in principle,” he said during his speech.

“I hope that my many friends who are waiting for the opportunity to marry will not have to wait too much longer for the Commonwealth Parliament to reform the law.”

Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome hailed Horwin’s public coming out, but urged the federal Coalition party to use this as an opportunity to allow a conscience vote on marriage equality.

“As an MP, Mr Harwin has the respect of his colleagues in the Liberal Party, but as a gay man he is yet to to be treated with respect under the Marriage Act.”

“I call on the federal Liberal Party to have a conscience vote on marriage equality so Mr Harwin and all gay Australians can be equal citizens.”

NSW will head to the polls for a state election in March.

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