ESTABLISHING the best means by which LGBTI Queenslanders can raise issues and concerns with the state government is the goal of the first LGBTI roundtable in five years being held tomorrow in Brisbane.
Last held in 2011 under the Bligh Labor government, LGBTI roundtables were established to ensure problems faced by the community were addressed directly.
[showads ad=MREC] The community forums came to an end during the time of the Newman Liberal National Party (LNP) government when it took office in 2012.
However, due to the campaigning efforts of local advocate Phil Browne and the Brisbane LGBTIQ Action Group (BLAG), tomorrow’s roundtable hosted by the Communities Minister Shannon Fentiman will be convened to reestablish a line of communication, and determine the best model for government and LGBTI community discussion.
Taking their plans for creating LGBTI advisory committees to state MPs — including Fentiman and several others —and Brisbane City Council last year, BLAG said a case was put forward that highlighted the health and abuse concerns experienced by the community.
“BLAG believe the overwhelming evidence of harm to LGBTI people from prejudice and discrimination, warrants all levels of government setting up LGBTI-specific advisory committees to properly address this imbalance,” Browne told the Star Observer.
“A file of credible evidence — alarming university research and ABS statistics — was presented to support and justify this request.”
Browne congratulated the state government for agreeing to this request, highlighting the positive impact of the round table and how over time, “it could even begin to reverse the alarming mental health and suicide toll our community faces”.
“This will benefit so many Queenslanders, most of whom we will never meet,” he said.
Speaking to the Star Observer, Fentiman said there were specific issues hampering a clear line of communication between government and the LGBTI community, and these issues needed to be addressed in a way where the community had significant input.
“There may be particular barriers or issues faced by LGBTI individuals which impact on the way they interact with government,” she said.
“So we want to talk about the best forum to create an opportunity for them to be regularly heard.
“Whether you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex, I value your opinion and views and I want to hear them.”
Whatever form these government and community discussions take, Brown hoped its scope would include a whole-of-government approach.
“Previously there had been an LGBTI round table for the Queensland Department of Communities only, which I understand was discontinued under the previous LNP state government,” he said.
“This new LGBTI roundtable is a major advance on that, as it includes all of Queensland government.”
The same case for an advisory committee put forward to Brisbane Council last year was rejected, with council citing existing means by which the LGBTI community could raise concerns.
With local elections in March in mind, Browne said council had squandered an opportunity to make Brisbane more inclusive city.
“It would have been even further benefit to LGBTI people if council had not rejected the proposed Brisbane City Council LGBTI Advisory Committee, though the Greens, ALP and independent Cr Johnston all support this call at council level,” he said.
LGBTI issues and law reform appear to be on the Palaszczuk Labor government’s agenda after restoring civil unions in the Queensland last year, and recently taking the next step to expunging the criminal records of gay men convicted for homosexuality before 1990.[showads ad=FOOT]