A little more than six months after the Yes vote won in Australia, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has revealed what the day meant to him.
Speaking at this year’s LGBTI Inclusion Awards in Sydney, the Pride in Diversity co-patron said it was an honour to fill the “big shoes” of former co-patron Michael Kirby, before highlighting how much had changed over the past year.
“Since we sat down last year at these awards, what a year we’ve had,” he said.
“Particularly at the end of the year, where we saw an amazing outpouring of support for the LGBTI community with the vote by Australian people on changing the Marriage Act.
“I have to admit November 15 was one of the most emotional days of my life – I was proud of the Australian people for sending a message of acceptance and inclusion, and telling the world it’s all about a fair go.
“I was proud of the hundreds of thousands of people that worked on the campaign.”
“There were many people that didn’t get enough credit for the work they do, including my partner Shane” he said.
“If you bought an equality t-shirt, you probably bought it from Shane… or even Elaine [Czulkowski], who organised this event.
“They worked tirelessly and hard and they made marriage equality happen.”
Despite the major victory, Alan Joyce added being open and proud in the workplace is a hurdle faced by LGBTI people around the world, even in the most progressive cities.
“I heard the story of a young guy in New York, one of the most open environments in the world, who was working for a big bank and hadn’t built up the courage to tell his boss that he was gay,” he said.
“When he finally did tell his boss it was a relief, because his boss was so excited, but that concern or fear around coming out is still there, even in major banks around the world.
“It shows how much work we have left to do.”
The LGBTI Inclusion Awards saw more than 700 business leaders, diversity champions, and professionals gather to celebrate the results of the Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI).