From a young age my mum taught me that no one is above anyone else, and everybody deserves the same opportunities. She has demonstrated this philosophy during her time as Leader of the Australian Greens, but this isn’t new. When I was a baby, my mum supported a Vietnamese family who arrived by boat, helping them to find work and a place to live. Fundamentally, my mum believes in caring for people.
One of the things I am most proud of is her commitment and determination to secure equal rights for the LGBTI community. She has been fighting for marriage equality and gay rights for more than 30 years. It hasn’t always been easy.
When she led the campaign to decriminalise homosexuality in Tasmania in the 1990s, she was subject to death threats and abuse. During one particularly nasty exchange in Tasmanian Parliament my mum was described as the “mother of teenage sodomy”. I remember these being very difficult and scary times for our family, but despite all of this she never backed down, not once.
In 1997, as Leader of the Tasmanian Greens, it was her Bill that changed the state’s archaic laws so people could be openly homosexual without fear of being jailed for 21 years. Tasmania went from having the worst to the best laws in the country. My mum used the balance of power with a Liberal minority government to achieve it.
Fast forward to 2013, and my mum is still championing the rights of the LGBTI community. This time she’s fighting for marriage equality so that everyone in Australia has the right to marry the person they love, no matter who they are or where they come from. And I know that if anyone can make history in Australia, it will be my mum. This isn’t an election point-scoring opportunity – it’s a belief in equality, not only for the LGBTI community but for everyone.
The Greens want to end all discrimination against LGBTI people and their families, whether it’s in nursing homes, at work or in schools. The Greens will remove exemptions in anti-discrimination laws so LGBTI people can no longer be fired or denied services on the basis of their sexuality or gender identity. Both Labor and the Coalition opposed moves to rid our laws of these discriminatory exemptions.
While politicians like the ALP’s Penny Wong and the Coalition’s Malcolm Turnbull have publicly supported marriage equality, you need to remember that you are voting for the party not the individual. Last year, Labor had a conscience vote on marriage equality in the Lower House, and only 38 out of 71 ALP members voted in favour.
This is not just an issue about marrying the person you love – this is about having the same right as everybody else so that we are all recognised equally under the same law. If the polls are right and Tony Abbott is the new Prime Minister of Australia after Saturday, then you are going to need the Greens in the Senate more than ever.