Organisers of a new national rights coalition are hopeful they can overcome the deep disagreement that has plagued countrywide LGBT groups in the past.

Australian Coalition for Equality (ACE) launched last Saturday as a national lobby voice for the LGBT community, spokesperson Rod Swift told Sydney Star Observer.

A number of people from various backgrounds came together saying we need to resolve the issue of a national lobby and come together and do something, Swift said.

The coalition, unveiled on the National Day of Action to mark the first anniversary of the national same-sex marriage ban, will provide information about legal inequality through its website while lobbying for federal law reform.

ACE’s nine founding members include LGBT activists from five states, but organisers stress the coalition is different from previous countrywide rights lobbies, which foundered as members put state priorities before shared concerns.

The Australian Council for Lesbian and Gay Rights (ACLGR), which formed in 1993, folded in the late 1990s after state relationship reform diverted members’ attention from a national agenda, according to activist Rodney Croome, who was on the ACLGR and is a founding member of ACE.

The more recent Equal Rights Network lasted about a year before failing in late 2004 after deep disagreement between state-based groups on the issue of same-sex marriage.

In the end people simply couldn’t agree on anything, Croome, also a former Equal Rights Network member, said.

But ACE organisers said they had learned from the past and would enforce a clear separation between state and national interests.

We have taken a different tack this time which is to say it’s not a federation of state-based lobbies, Swift, who is also convenor of West Australian lobby group Gay and Lesbian Equality WA (GALEWA) said.

It’s actually its own independent structure that allows people that want to work on national issues to come together and work on national issues.

Croome said: The people involved are very clear that while they may be involved in state-based organisations -¦ they are there as individuals, not representing any particular group or state.

ACE was currently examining proposed changes to the Medicare Safety Net and how they might affect the LGBT community, but it was not limited to a single issue, Swift said.

Details of the coalition’s final structure, including whether more members would be admitted, are still being decided.

Australian Coalition for Equality’s founding members are Rodney Croome; transgender activist Martine Delaney; Australian Marriage Equality national convenor Luke Gahan; John Kloprogge from the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group; Carman Parsons from Action Reform Change Queensland; West Australian activists Kelly and Sam Pilgrim-Byrne; Rod Swift; and Jen Van Achteren from the Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group.

For more information visit the Australian Coalition for Equality website

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