IT’S likely NSW will see at least two openly-gay Liberal upper house MPs elected in March’s state election following the finalisation of the party’s Legislative Council ticket.

Meanwhile, gay candidates from the other major parties are also steadily being confirmed.

The Liberal Party’s preselection process for the Legislative Council, held earlier this month, has seen a political comeback Shayne Mallard, the former City of Sydney councillor and one-time president of the party’s youth arm.

While the inner workings of Liberal preselection are kept under wraps by the party, it’s understood by the Star Observer that Mallard finished in one of the higher positions for an incoming candidate, virtually guaranteeing him a seat in the next parliament.

Mallard, who runs a catering business with his partner Jesper Hansen and is a senior policy adviser to the Mayor of Liverpool, served on Sydney council from 2004 -2012 and the former South Sydney Council from 2000.

On the left faction of the party and a supporter of LGBTI rights, Mallard lost to Clover Moore in the 2008 Sydney mayoral election and independent challenger Alex Greenwich in the 2012 by-election for the state electorate of Sydney, picking up almost a third of the vote.

Talking the the Star Observer, Mallard said: “I am honoured by the trust and opportunity the Liberal party has placed in me to be a candidate for the NSW Legislative Council.

“This new exciting challenge continues my lifetime of community service and I look forward to working with the many communities and advocates from across the state including the diverse GLBT community.”

Labor is expected to regain some ground from their defeat in 2011 but current predictions are for a Coalition victory with the partners’ upper house tally of 10 seats likely to remain broadly similar.

If Mallard is elected he will join long-standing upper house Liberal MP and Legislative Council president Don Harwin in the chamber.

Harwin, who publicly confirmed he was gay last month, said it was great privilege to be endorsed to run.

“I am proud to be campaigning for re-election of a government that is rebuilding NSW and has backed some significant reforms that the LGBTI community have been seeking including the abolition of the so-called ‘homosexual panic’ defence and the expungement of historical homosexual convictions,” he said.

He said he was looking forward to serving with Mallard and openly-gay Coogee state Liberal MP Bruce Notley-Smith, who is re-contesting for his electorate.

However, high-profile Sydney councillor and Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s lesbian sister Christine Forster lost her bid to get onto the Liberal ticket, with speculation her lack of factional alignment may have scuppered her chances.

While Forster did not comment on the preselection process she said she was “100 per cent committed” to her City of Sydney constituents and confirmed her intention to run again in the 2016 council elections.

On the opposition benches, openly-gay MP Helen Westwood will recontest her upper house seat at the March elections.

Meanwhile, vast swathes of Sydney’s inner-city and LGBTI-centric neighbourhoods could be represented by LGBTI candidates.

Gay candidates will go head-to-head in the Sydney electorate, with incumbent independent MP Alex Greenwich facing off against the Greens’ Chris Brentin.

Shadow transport minister Penny Sharpe is looking to put the newly-created seat of Newtown into the Labor column.

Western Sydney candidates will also have an openly-gay candidate, with David Bate contesting Blacktown for the Greens.

(Main photo: Ann-Marie Calilhanna; Star Observer)

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