PARENTS and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) national spokesperson Shelley Argent has written a public letter attacking Queensland Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg for comments he made about the new government’s plans to reinstate the state’s civil union legislation.
Speaking to the media yesterday, newly-appointed Attorney General Yvette D’Ath gave an update on the current progress of their election commitment to the LGBTI community.
“We will be reinstating the right for couples to have their relationships recognised as civil partnerships or unions, rather than ‘registered relationships’, and for them to be able to celebrate their relationships in front of their families and friends at a state-sanctioned public ceremony.”
In a copy of the letter sent to the Star Observer, Argent said Springborg apparently responded to those comments by saying the issue was not a priority for the state and that the new government should be focused on jobs.
These echoed similar sentiments of his in 2011 following Labor’s introduction of their original civil union bill.
“I can honestly say I cannot recollect one single person coming up to me in my electorate saying they were worried about the issue,” Springborg told media at the time.
“The (government’s) priorities are all wrong.
“I have very good friends that are gay and they don’t support it. It’s wrong to say that everyone who is gay supports it.”
Argent was motivated to write a letter to Springborg because of these sentiments.
“Mr. Springborg, yesterday you stated that the new government should be focusing on jobs,” she wrote.
“However, it should be noted that if your government hadn’t spent time and effort actively discriminating against the LGBT community and repealing the civil partnership legislation (among other discriminations), the government would have a head start bringing this state back to a state, where we the citizens can once again be proud to be called a Queenslander.
“Mr. Springborg your LNP government lost the election due to your right-wing attitudes, lack of care and empathy with the needs of all Queenslanders, not just the right wing who judge and condemn.
“Your government deliberately and actively discriminated against the LGBTI community in a manner that no political party or individual should be proud.
“Priority and price cannot be put on people’s rights. Rights can’t be bought or earned and as a parent of two sons, one straight, one gay I now feel hopeful that this state is now moving to see both of my sons as equals.”
The outspoken LGBTI advocate also told the Opposition Leader to accept and respect the decision handed down by Queenslanders at the election and work with the new government to improve the lives of everyone in the state.
“As a private person I say ‘suck it up sunshine’,” she wrote.
“However, as the national spokesperson I say, it’s time to move on and give the new government a chance before the now Opposition of Queensland begin any criticism of the new Premier and her team.
“We need to work together to improve this state and we need Queensland to be inclusive of all of its citizens. When you were in government you could have done the same but you chose a different path and our sons and daughters paid the price.
“You can be a positive influence in this State if you choose. I do hope if and when your government is re elected you don’t go down the same path of destruction.”
Speaking yesterday, D’Ath said that while reintroducing civil unions would not be the first piece of legislation put before the new Queensland Parliament, it was still a priority.
“The Premier has made it clear that we will be a consultative government, and I will make sure that in putting these changes into place I consult widely,” she said.
“It’s not going to be the first piece of legislation we introduce before the parliament – that will be changes to the Electoral Act to increase transparency – but we will be working on the amendments required and consulting on the issue in the coming months to bring about the changes as quickly as possible.
“We do believe that if you want to talk about equality, you have to put it into practise and this is a positive step forward in removing this discrimination for Queensland couples. As said during the campaign, this is Labor party policy and will be implemented.”
The Star Observer has contacted Springborg’s office for comment.