Controversial Queensland Speaker Fiona Simpson has moved to stop would-be protesters from entering State Parliament in continued fallout from a civil unions protest in June.

During parliamentary debate regarding the rollback of the state’s Civil Partnership Act and the announcement of a proposed ban on same-sex surrogacy, there were incredible scenes of community anger from the public gallery.

Simpson signed a directive on Tuesday which now gives her the power to refuse access to the Legislative Assembly to anyone not accompanied by parliamentary security pass holders if there is “credible intelligence” of a protest, including rallies outside the building.

“Despite these clear conditions of entry, over the years certain individuals or groups have in recent times sought to disrupt proceedings,” Simpson told Parliament on Tuesday.

In July, Simpson banned television crews from Parliament for nine days for broadcasting the disruption from LGBT community members inside the building. The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance condemned the television camera ban, calling it “an assault on press freedom and the public’s right to know”.

Psychologist and founder of the newly established Queenslanders for Equality community group, Paul Martin, said the new powers coupled with the de-funding of significant voices for LGBT people in Queensland, such as Healthy Communities, was a worrying sign.

“It sends a powerful message that the government does not want an open debate about LGBT issues,” Martin told the Star Observer.

“It gives people the sense that their voice isn’t valued and they don’t have a place in the democratic system.”

Brisbane equal rights advocate Phil Browne said Parliament must be able to function without being disrupted but that questions must be asked over what constitutes “credible intelligence” to refuse entry to the public gallery.

“The fact that someone has taken peaceful protest action outside Parliament should never be a reason to deny anyone entry to the public gallery,” Browne said.

“The Speaker has justified her action in part because Parliament’s proceedings are now broadcast live over the internet, however, MPs need to be able to look up to the public gallery and see large numbers of people viewing proceedings, as a sign that citizens feel strongly on certain issues.”

The Office of the Speaker denied there’d be any profiling of LGBT people seeking to view parliamentary proceedings, despite the gallery changes following the civil unions protest.

“It’s about a protest, it’s not about individuals,” a spokeswoman for the Speaker told Star Observer.

“I’m not sure there’s anything visually different about [LGBT people].”

When asked what evidence might be defined as “credible intelligence” of a protest, the spokeswoman said she couldn’t comment for security reasons.

Simpson was announced as Queensland’s first ever female parliamentary Speaker in March. An advocate of so-called ‘reparative’ therapy, she famously told Parliament in 2002 that homosexuals could “grow into heterosexuality over time” and encouraged people struggling with their sexuality to contact Exodus International, a Christian ‘ex-gay’ organisation that claimed to be able to cure homosexuality.

© Star Observer 2022 | For the latest in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, be sure to visit starobserver.com.au daily. You can also read our latest magazines or Join us on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.