By Drew Sheldrick
State Labor MP Tony Lupton is bringing politics to the local pub during Midsumma in the first event of its kind for the festival. The dinner and drinks with the Victorian Government cabinet secretary and other guests will be a chance for attendees to ask questions regarding gay and lesbian rights in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
“I like doing things in an unusual setting and not having to wait until someone makes an appointment,” Lupton told Southern Star.
“It’s a chance to explain the nuances of certain issues that are often hard to get across in the mainstream media.”
Lupton has employed the Politics in the Pub method on other occasions, but this is the first time he’ll engage with the gay and lesbian community in this forum.
Lupton admitted that he was likely to face tough questions regarding the Brumby Government’s more divisive decisions last year, such as the exemptions for religious institutions in the Equal Opportunity Act.
“I imagine we will have a debate on the issues surrounding the Equal Opportunity Act. It’s a good example of legislation that is widely accepted by the community but not often understood,” he said.
“You have to remember that the Act contains areas where discrimination is allowed, and that can be a good thing. These exemptions exist for institutions within the GLBTI community and in places like women-only gyms, for example, so they can be protected and run their own way.”
Lupton added that, until the recent changes, religious institutions were totally exempt from the Act.
“If you came to court saying you’d been unfairly discriminated against, they’d argue that it wasn’t in the Act, and they’d be right. Now these institutions have to justify their case and come under greater social scrutiny,” he said.
Lupton said he believed the Brumby Government had a great partnership and level of trust with the community and that he’d found people very supportive of the ongoing changes and attempts at providing genuine, long-term equality.
“A group of people with a common interest is not always going to agree, but you can come away from this type of medium with a broad understanding of many views and the Government can take this into account. It’s how successful reform is made,” he said.
info: Tony Lupton’s Politics at the Pub is at ET’s Hotel, 211 High St, Prahran on January 29, 6.30pm. Visit www.tonylupton.com