Gay rights are on the move in Victoria with the state’s Labor party poised to established its first Rainbow Labor Network and Policy Committee to deal specifically with GLBTI issues.

The party’s Administrative Committee last week gave the go-ahead for the establishment of the Network and the GLBTI Policy Committee. Formal approval by the state conference in July is needed before the two bodies are officially in place.

It’s understood the nod will be given at the conference. If so, it will be the first time the Victorian branch of the ALP has a solid voice agitating for GLBTI issues inside the party.

Five executive places (voting members) are expected to be set up for the Rainbow Labor Network, the formation of which is based on the Victorian Labor Women’s Network. Any identifying GLBTI party member in Victoria can stand for election on the executive.

Victoria sits slightly above other states in GLBT reform, with the state’s relationship register, human rights charter and IVF reforms. Movement within government, however, has largely come from individual supporters in Cabinet and MPs closely associated with the community such as former Deputy Premier John Thwaites, current Attorney-General Rob Hulls and Cabinet Secretary Tony Lupton.

The ALP’s South Yarra branch has also acted to champion GLBTI rights in the party, announcing this week the appointment of a queer officer.

Branch spokesman Steve Perryman said he welcomed news of the Rainbow Labor Network and the Policy Committee and has been involved in negotiations behind the scenes.

-œIt was no mean feat in getting the Admin Committee together without any opposition to agree to that, he said.

-œIt’s still all got to go to conference, of course, but the signs are pretty good that it’s all okay.

Daniel Skelton, a member of the South Yarra branch executive, is the branch’s inaugural queer officer and will liaise with the community, his electorate and the party.

-œIt’s not specifically a policy role. It’s more of a stakeholder, engagement and liaison role, Perryman said.

-œIt’s a first in Victoria. I don’t know any other branch within the party or federal electoral assembly of the party who’s appointed somebody to specifically look after this group of stakeholders inside and outside the party.

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