FOR many years, the LGBTI community and the Labor party have shared a strong, trusting and working friendship.
In particular, firstly as a woman living in the electorate for Brisbane Central and in later years as the MP representing the electorate, I have stood up for LGBTI issues and rights all my adult life.
I have been fighting for equality since I joined the union movement over 30 years ago, and I have a very proud record of standing up for the injustice that surrounds us. I have never walked away from supporting the LGBTI community and I never will. As a proud member of the Labor party, I’d like to share with you what the Labor party has done, and will continue to do for the LGBTI community.
The Labor party has a commitment to restoring funding to Queensland Aids Council; we will reassess the allocation of funding to all primary health service providers. In doing so, one of the criteria will be the effectiveness of service delivery. Labor will ensure budget resources are allocated fairly and appropriately.
Labor will restore the repealed Civil Partnership legislation, as we continue to fight for marriage equality.
As you’re aware, the Civil Relationships legislation amended the laws passed by the former Labor Government in 2011, which greatly affected the rights of heterosexual de facto couples and gay and lesbian couples in Queensland. In fact, former Star Observer editor Drew Sheldrick described the Act in a Crikey article as “the most significant rollback of gay and lesbian rights by a government in the western world, ever.”
The changes to the Act involved reclassifying civil unions as “registered relationships” and removing the capacity for couples to have a formal declaration ceremony for their civil union. I believe that these actions are prejudicial and a breach of trust, not only with the LGBTI community, but also to all of the people of Queensland.
The Labor Opposition opposed the changes when they were debated in Parliament, and will amend the civil unions’ legislation to ensure the provisions removed from the 2011 legislation by the LNP are restored.
The Surrogacy Act of 2010 will be left as it presently stands. In 2010, the previous Labor Government introduced laws that legalised altruistic surrogacy in Queensland. The laws applied to all Queenslanders equally.
In November 2011, the Labor Government at the time established a special committee to look at whether the Homosexual Advance Defence should be changed in Queensland. After receiving the recommendation of the committee the then-government announced that section 304 of the Criminal Code would be amended to ensure that an unwanted sexual advance would not be enough to establish the partial defence of provocation unless there were exceptional circumstances.
In regards to the expungement of historical consensual gay sex convictions, I’m aware that there have been a growing number of jurisdictions that have considered that very question. As long as sex happened between consenting adults, I am on record as being completely supportive of this issue, as is the Labor party.
The Labor party, if elected to government will establish an expert committee consisting of key health experts, who will consider the implications to make the age of consent in line with other states in Australia.
Along with Queensland Labor, I am determined to ensure Queensland schools are safe learning environments for all students regardless of their gender, race, disability, appearance or sexual identity. Labor is on record for saying that we will develop a clear policy for school leaders to address issues commonly faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer students.
While the Federal Government has provided funding to state and territory governments to implement the Safe School project, we are yet to see this project be delivered to Queensland schools.
As I said at the LGBTI community forum held at the Sportsman Hotel on January 19:
“I don’t think I can remember one advancement for this community that hasn’t been delivered by the Labor Party.
“When we decriminalised homosexuality, when we brought in the surrogacy laws, when we brought in the civil unions and all the other changes we’ve made to industrial legislation, the federal laws – they have all come in under Labor.”
Note: The Star Observer has approached the incumbent MP of the gay-centric electorate of Brisbane Central, LNP’s Robert Cavallucci, to write an oped. Unfortunately he was unable to submit a piece, but he expressed his full support for the LGBTI community. You can still read a generic overview of LNP’s LGBTI policies here: http://www.starobserver.com.au/?p=131888