GLBTI groups have praised Liberal Warren Entsch for his support for reform on issues effecting the intersex and transgender communities and older GLBTI people, but rejected the idea these were higher priorities than marriage equality.

During debate on Adam Bandt’s same-sex marriage motion, Entsch told the parliament, “While I support gays and lesbians in having their relationships recognised, I think there are much bigger issues at play that need to be dealt with as a matter of priority.”

Entsch then cited areas of Federal law which discriminated against transgender and intersex people, and discrimination against GLBTIs in aged care. Liberal MP for Brisbane Terresa Gambaro cited the same issues but stated they were “equally important” as marriage to the GLBTI community.

Sex And Gender Education (SAGE) spokeswoman Tracie O’Keefe welcomed Entsch’s support on the issues but said it should not be an either/or proposition.

“Everyone deserves equal rights and I don’t think we can trade off one set of equal rights against the other,” O’Keefe said.

“Politicians should not be saying that one set of equal rights is more important. All these people need equal rights now- not in several years time.”

Gina Wilson of Organisation Intersex International (OII) Australia said she was unsure of the motive behind Entsch’s comments and would prefer to see MPs move to fix all remaining areas of discrimination against GLBTI Australians once and for all as opposed to playing “salami tactics … giving us our rights one slice at a time”.

“Tackling LGBTIQ aging as a single thing is no different to tackling marriage as a single thing, or wanting to tackle intersex needs as a single thing,” Wilson told the Star Observer.

“I’d be happy if these people could get together and give us the whole lot on a plate.

“If they were prepared to pass a comprehensive anti-discrimination and vilification act and incorporate us into human rights protections there are a whole lot of things we wouldn’t have to fight for.”

Australian Marriage Equality (AME) national convenor Alex Greenwich said Entsch was a passionate advocate for GLBTI rights, but believed other reforms would be easier to get through the Parliament than same-sex marriage

“He is very supportive of marriage equality, but I think he’s focusing on the things that he believes he can get done in the short term and that marriage equality is a longer term fight,” he said.

“We disagree with the notion that you can only do one or the other — there are a lot of issues that effect the GLBTI community and there is no reason why the parliament can’t deal with them all.”

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