Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ newly-reshuffled cabinet made history, when the state’s first ever out gay cabinet ministers, Harriet Shing and Steve Dimopoulos,  were sworn in at Government House on Monday. 

Shing, member for the Eastern Victoria Region, was sworn in as the Minister For Equality, Water and Regional Development. Shing is the first out lesbian member of the Victorian Parliament and the only out member of the upper house. 

“It’s a joy to be part of a Cabinet with more than 50 per cent women, and a Cabinet that is more diverse than ever before,” Shing posted on social media. Of the 22 minsters in Premier Andrews’ cabinet, 14 are women – more than any other Australian jurisdiction. 

“Over the coming days and weeks I’ll be getting out and about around the state to meet and (re)connect with communities and stakeholders in my new roles, and to get stuck into the issues and priorities that matter most,” said Shing.  

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (front row, fifth from left) with his cabinet ministers.

‘Determined To Do The Right Thing By The LGBTQI Community’

In her inaugural speech when she was first elected to Parliament in 2015, Shing had outlined her priorities. “I am determined to do the right thing by the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community — my community — and to contribute to removing discriminatory laws from Victoria’s statute book, laws which have affected me personally and which, until they are improved, make the lives of LGBTI Victorians unnecessarily and unjustifiably hard,” Shing had said. 

In Parliament, Shing voted to pass the the Andrews government’s LGBTQI law reforms, including legislation to ban conversion practices and prohibit religious organisations and faith-based schools from sacking teachers and staff for being LGBTQI.

In a February 2021 speech in the upper house during the vote on the bill to ban conversion practices, the MP pointed to the real world impact of the so called conversion therapy procedures on LGBTQI people. 

“I want to make sure that we are very clear in this debate around the very human impact that takes place upon us as individuals when the world that we live in as LGBTIQ folk says in fact that we are other and that we are different,” said Shing and called out the “doublespeak” of MPs who say they are not against LGBTQI rights, but oppose law reforms. 

“What that does is create a status quo that enables an inherently damaging and hurtful discrimination to continue, that enables our shame to continue. And we deserve better. We deserve better than to have to beg Australia for the right under marriage legislation to be with and to marry and to have our relationships recognised at law on an equal footing,” Shing had said. 

Diverse And Modern Australia

Dimopoulos, the member for Oakleigh was sworn in as Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events and Minister for Creative Industries. In a post on social media, Dimopoulos acknowledged his family, including his partner John. 

Meet Australia’s Out Gay Members Of Parliament

Dimopoulos’ parents migrated to Australia from Greece.  In the social media post, Dimopoulos celebrated Australia as the ” home of multiculturalism, where everyone’s dreams, hopes and aspirations are equal and have value, regardless of their culture, religion, gender or sexual orientation.”

“As an Australian with Greek heritage I am honoured to play a small role in representing the diversity that is modern Australia,” added Dimopoulos. 

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