Last Sunday the GLRL spent the afternoon at Parramatta Pride, an annual LGBTI community picnic organised by the Parramatta Queer Forum. We were joined by community organisations such as PFLAG, ACON, Team Sydney, Harbour City Bears, as well as allies from the NSW police and elsewhere.
The presence of a visible LGBTI community outside the inner city is extremely important for those in our community who live there, often without the support those within it take for granted.
Living in inner-city Sydney, as many of us do, it is easy to carry the false impression that discrimination and social isolation are no longer the problems they were in years past for our community.
Yet research indicates this is simply not the case, particularly for groups within our community who are already marginalised.
The Writing Themselves In 3 (2010) report from La Trobe University found that same sex attracted and gender questioning young people living in rural and remote towns spoke of a lack of support and appropriate services, as well – unsurpringly – of the discrimination and isolation which still exists.
These young people are less likely to have access to the internet than their metropolitan peers, and feel less safe online when they do have access.
Next week, the GLRL is delighted to be attending Camp Out, a five-day residential camp for sex, sexuality and/or gender diverse young people aged 12 to 17, to give a workshop on anti-discrimination.
Most of these young people come from rural areas, and it is wonderful to see initiatives like Camp Out, and the Western Sydney youth programme Out West, flourish. Of course, much more needs to be done.
It is not just young people in rural and remote areas who face difficulties – the same can often be said for elderly people, or those from diverse faith or cultural backgrounds, for example.
The broader issue is one of intersectionality; how our multiple identities combine to create our experience of self and community (or lack thereof), and this is the focus of the GLRL’s work on anti-discrimination.
The federal government will soon release an exposure draft bill on the consolidation of federal anti-discrimination legislation, which will hopefully for the first time see sexuality and gender identity as protected attributes under anti-discrimination law.
Legislative change is necessary and important, but it is not enough on its own. We must continue to find ways to reach out and connect – each one of us, wherever we are in this vast land, has a right to a safe community in which to live and grow.