By Jack Whitney
Now more than ever, it’s important that the LGBTQI community continues to advance the causes that we are passionate about and hold ground on the hard-fought rights secured.
It’s been well reported that conservative politicians and far-right lobbyists seek to erode many of our rights, particularly the Australian Christian Lobby and One Nation.
Bills that Erode Our Rights and Security are in the Works
You name it. Bills and legislation that erode our rights and security at work, marriage equality, access to health services and care and the fairness of our education system, have been in the works.
These Bills and pieces of legislation have real implications for not only the LGBTQI community, but also the community at large, including the Religious Freedom Bill in NSW and One Nation’s Education Bill that would impact teachers and students.
To date, these policies are part of an ongoing divide, which leave mainstream, hardworking, Australians confused. Australians are more united around the confusion on what these bills support and how they are going to help them, rather than the waving of any particular flag.
When Australians, particularly those in NSW, are struggling with record-low wage growth, housing affordability and a two-year-long global pandemic, we can lose sight of the attacks on our rights and freedoms.
It’s not their fault either. As pieces of legislation, the bills are confusing since they fundamentally go against their own aims of freedom.
Wedge Issues over Unity Issues
There’s a feeling that our leaders will not bring our communities together on these issues of faith, education, marriage equality, security at work. Instead, they will wedge us against one another. Many in the LGBTQI community have lost faith in their political leaders and the political process altogether.
But we must not lose faith, we must continue our efforts and see the fights ahead as opportunities. If we do, we risk doing so at our own peril.
Critically, opposing these bills, and the leadership that seek to have it, should not mean we oppose all Bills that are put forward. We must be pragmatic and organised.
NSW’s new Premier, Dominic Perrottet – a member of the conservative right of the Liberal Party – is well known to have a range of beliefs that many see as out of step in modern Australia. There are opportunities to be had in working with Dominic and the Government if they put forward sensible reform. There are great opportunities to do this in reviewing the Anti-Discrimination Act, reviewing the ban on blood donations by gay men, birth certificate reform and protecting all groups from discrimination. These are the fights ahead we can look to.
If he is not a leader of reform and instead takes the road of maligning and criticising the LGBTQI community, our social movement and civil society will ensure that our rights are maintained and we have a voice.
Jack Whitney is Co-Convenor of The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, the leading body for LGBTQI rights in NSW. Project Lead of Victory Fund Australia, the only national organisation dedicated to electing LGBTQI people to public office.