Tasmanians will head to the polls for the state’s Parliament on May 1. The local LGBTQI+ community can now vote with the knowledge that all the three the major political parties – Labor, Liberals and Greens – contesting the Tasmania elections have publicly committed to supporting pro-LGBTQI+ policies and law reforms. 

This was revealed by LGBTQI+ advocacy group Equality Tasmania following a pre-election survey that it conducted to gauge the response of the political parties to issues affecting the community. 

“We are pleased with the responses to key law reform issues such as a ban on conversion practices, a ban on unnecessary medical interventions on intersex children, and reform of the Coroner’s Act to ensure same-sex partners are recognised,” Equality Tasmania spokesperson Rodney Croome said in a statement . 

The reform of the Coroner’s Act assumes significance following the treatment of Tasmanian resident Ben Jago, who was denied next-of-kin status by the Coroner following his partner’s death. All three parties have supported changes to the Coroner’s Act so that same-sex partners are not treated differently when determining senior next-of-kin status. 

 

“The way Ben Jago was treated after the tragic death of his partner was shameful,” said the Labor Party in their response to the survey.

Progress On LGBTQI+ Reforms

Equality Tasmania expressed the hope that regardless of the party that wins the elections, it sees that progress will be made on important LGBTQI+ law reform issues.

 “The Greens and Labor support these reforms and the Liberals either support change or are open to it. We are particularly pleased that the Liberals have committed to not repealing or weakening the state’s landmark gender laws, despite their opposition to these laws when they were passed,” said Croome. 

Labor has promised to consult the community about funding for inclusive schools and health services. Liberals have made a commitment to an extra $20,000 for the community fund, but according to Equality Tasmania it  “falls short of the funding required to promote inclusion across the health and education systems.”

According to Croome, the fact that the major political parties have not shied away from taking a stand on LGBTQI+ law reforms offer hope – in previous LGBTQI+ election surveys Liberals would answer ‘no’’ 

“This gives me hope there is a political consensus emerging in Tasmania on LGBTIQ+ equity and inclusion, and that our rights will be less controversial and partisan in years to come,” added Croome. 

Equality Tasmania further said that a record number of openly LGBTQI+ candidates- at the least six – are also contesting the elections this time. 

Star Observer took a look at the where the Liberals, Labor and Greens stand on key issues affecting the LGBTQI+ community. 

 

1. Will you vote for a law to ban conversion practices?

Labor: Will vote to ban conversion practices and apply criminal sanctions. 

Liberals: Open to reforms and consider recommendations of Tasmanian Law Reform Institute’s ongoing inquiry into the issue. 

Greens: Will vote to ban conversion practices.

 

2. Will you vote to ban intersex surgeries on infants and children?

Labor: Does not support the use of non-medical surgeries intended to decide the gender of an intersex infant where the surgery is not required on medical grounds.

Liberals: Any change  in law subject to consultation with both clinicians and the community. Will continue to carefully consider any recommendations regarding any changes. 

Greens: Will vote for legislation to prohibit intersex surgeries on infants and children

 

3. Will you vote for a Human Rights Act?

Labor: Yes

Liberals: No plans to introduce a Human Rights Act.

Greens: Yes

 

4. Do you support Tasmania’s strong Anti-Discrimination Act?

Labor and Greens: Yes

Liberals: Zero Tolerance for discrimination and bullying.

 

5. Do you support retaining Tasmania’s 2019 gender recognition law?

Labor and Greens: Will not repeal the law.

Liberals: Will not support repealing the law.

 

6. Do you support measures to expunge historical convictions and compensation?

Labor and Greens: Support expunging historical convictions and compensation. 

Liberals: Will consider compensation as part of any refinement.

 

7. Do you support changes to the Coroner’s Act to ensure there is a clear process for determining senior-next-of-kin and that same-sex partners are not treated differently?

Labor, Liberals and Greens: Committed to reviewing and changing the Coroner’s Act. 

 

8. Will you ensure all state schools are safe and inclusive of LGBTQI+ students?

Labor: Will work to ensure LGBTIQ+ students and their families are supported in all schools.

Liberals: Not aware of any evidence of unmet need.

Greens: All students should be supported in their school environment.

 

9. Will you ensure independent schools do not discriminate against LGBTQI+ people?

Labor, Liberals and Greens: Yes

 

10. Will you ensure funding to support mental health needs of LGBTQI+ people?

Labor: Will liaise with the LGBTQI+ sector to explore future service delivery funding options.

Liberals: Will continue to work with LGBTIQ+ Tasmanians to ensure that they can access the mental health support they need, when they need it.

Greens: Wants to see more resources going in to the entire mental health system, so no suffering person is left without support.

 

11. Will you also ensure health care facilities have a gender affirming health care policy?

Labor: Labor’s Health Action Plan is explicitly designed to ensure that all Tasmanians receive the standard of care they deserve, inclusive of gender and sexual orientation.

Liberals: Committed to provide professional development for staff, as well as work underway to develop a network for our staff with diverse sexualities and gender identities.

Greens: Support professional development of staff for gender affirming care.

 

12. Do you support funding an LGBTQI+ peak body?

Labor: Committed to working with the LGBTQI+ community, existing advocacy groups and service organsiations to establish the groundwork for a peak body. 

Liberals: Will continue to support the LGBTQI+ Grants Program and consider the University of Tasmania survey for a peak body. 

Greens: Yes

 

 

 

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