VICTORIA’S major parties have put forward their positions on LGBTI issues ahead of Saturday’s state election, including the major announcement of Labor’s commitment to establish a dedicated Gender and Sexuality Discrimination Commissioner for the state.

The Coalition, Labor and the Greens in Victoria clarified their positions in responses to a survey from the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (VGLRL) on issues from human rights and marriage equality to young people, ageing, and issues affecting trans* and intersex Victorians.

Coinciding with the release of the survey results Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews announced the commissioner position, to be established within the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, if Labor wins government.

“When one person faces discrimination, it lessens us all,” Andrews said.

“This is a problem we must face together.”

Labor will also review all Victorian legislation to identify and address discrimination against LGBTI people.

As well as clarifying positions on some issues, the survey results drew attention to the commitments on LGBTI issues made by the parties in the lead up to this election.

The Coalition Government pledged $4.9 million over four years to continue the HEY Grants program supporting the health and wellbeing of young same-sex attracted, sex and gender diverse people, while Labor has promised over $1 million for a state-wide rollout of Safe Schools Coalition Victoria.

Labor and the Greens have both committed to removing existing and invasive surgery requirements for trans* and intersex Victorians to legally change gender, with the Coalition promising community consultation on the issue.

The parties addressed a range of other issues, including recognition of overseas same-sex marriages, and reforming section 19A of the Crimes Act, which discriminates against people living with HIV.

Same-sex adoption reform has also been in the spotlight, with Labor committing to a review with the aim of reforming the Adoption Act to allow at least same-sex adoption by known parents, while the Coalition has not announced a position on the issue.

“Ensuring all Victorian families enjoy the same legal status is long overdue, which is why we’re disappointed after months of considering the issue the Coalition does not have a position to tell the voters on adoption equality for Victoria,” VGLRL co-convener Corey Irlam said.

“This election is going to be a close one, so it’s more important than ever that voters who care about LGBTI issues know not just where their candidate stands but also what the party policies will be.”

The responses, available in full on the VGLRL website, contained varying levels of detail across the three parties. While Greens MP and LGBTI spokesperson Sue Penniciuk provided detailed responses on all survey questions, Labor and the Coalition answered more selectively.

There were notable omissions on questions relating to trans* and intersex Victorians, with only the Greens responding on most key issues.

This focus on LGBTI issues comes as the major parties vie for key marginal seats in inner-city Melbourne, including Prahran and Albert Park, areas with significant LGBTI communities.

The VGLRL survey continues a trend in this state election of increasingly direct engagement between the community and the major parties on LGBTI issues.

Earlier this year LGBTI business organisation GLOBE ran a candidates forum on issues facing the community, while earlier this month the Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) and Living Positive Victoria held a candidates forum on HIV.

Along with previous commitments around section 19A of the Crimes Act, the Coalition Government’s Health Minister David Davis has pledged $4 million over four years to rapid HIV testing clinic PRONTO!, and funding to address ice use in LGBTI communities.

VAC chief executive Simon Ruth said he had yet to see firm commitments on access to post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for HIV, particularly in regional and rural Victoria, or a state-level position on the future of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

Living Positive Victoria executive officer Brent Allan said there also needed to be a commitment on funding for programs to address HIV stigma.


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