LABOR is the only party that has consistently worked to improve the status and rights of LGBTI people. As Labor’s candidate in the Griffith by-election, I want to be a representative who will continue to work to do so.

Today, the Queensland of the 1980s – where homosexuality was still subject to the criminal law, and there was no legal prohibition against discrimination on the ground of sexuality – seems like the distant past.

But it is worth remembering that it took a Labor government – led by Wayne Goss – to decriminalise homosexuality, and to introduce the Anti-Discrimination Act.

In Queensland, Labor later improved the Anti-Discrimination Act protections for LGBTI people and updated the definition of “spouse” across all statutes to be inclusive when it came to same-sex couples, among many other things.

And nationally, our track record is one of which I’m proud.

Since 2008, the then-federal Labor government changed migration and visa laws in favour of same-sex couples, amended superannuation laws to allow the same-sex partner of those in Commonwealth superannuation funds access to their superannuation, gave same-sex couples access to the Family Court, required Centrelink and Medicare to recognise same-sex couples and their children, gave same-sex couples equal access to tax concessions, and recognised same-sex partners of Defence Force members.

Since 2010, federal Labor has ensured statutory minimum employment entitlements applied equally to those in same-sex relationships, allowed pre-op transsexuals and gender diverse people to carry a passport in their preferred gender, and made certificates of no-impediment available to same-sex couples wishing to marry overseas.

And as recently as 2013, federal Labor extended paid parental leave to same-sex couples, and included in federal discrimination laws new protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status.

Throughout Labor’s time in government it never stopped delivering real, positive change for LGBTI people.

In contrast, the Liberal-National Party pays only lip-service to LGBTI people. It took Labor’s Tanya Plibersek to restore funding to QAHC/QAC.  The LNP, meanwhile, seems to look for opportunities to cut services that are used by LGBTI people – like defunding Biala. And to reduce the status of same-sex couples, by taking away legally-recognised ceremonies and describing civil unions as “registered relationships”.

My opponent in the Griffith by-election says he supports marriage equality. But private support is simply not enough. As a nation, we know that Tony Abbott’s personal opposition to marriage equality is so strong that he has refused to allow members of the LNP a conscience vote on the issue. And that means that my opponent in the by-election would not be able to vote in favour of marriage equality, whatever his private views.

In contrast, I would not only vote for marriage equality, I’d actively campaign for it.

I’m proud of the work that I’ve done already to support Rainbow Labor’s push for policy change.

I’ve also worked with Rainbow Labor in pushing for improvements for the rights of LGBTI people more generally, including a call for policy change to tackle homophobia among young people.

Another area I am passionate about is LGBTI discrimination in aged care. I am firmly of the view that who you love should not be a determinative factor in the amount you will have to pay for aged care, or the conditions you are afforded in care.

Before 2008, the definition of ‘partner’ in the Aged Care Act 1997 excluded same-sex partners. Labor modified the definition with the Same-Sex Relationships Act 2008 to include same-sex couples. This means same-sex couples can share and spread their assets in their calculation of aged care fees, in most cases resulting in lower fees to be paid.

The changes did not stop there.

In 2012, the Labor Government launched the National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Ageing and Aged Care Strategy, which facilitates consultation with various groups to develop strategies to ensure LGBTI persons have equitable access to aged care services.

Another strategy championed under this umbrella, was the categorisation of same-sex people as “special needs” in the sense that, carers and the organisations attached to them must consider the needs of LGBTI persons. This goes a way to ensuring LGBTI-specific care when required.

This strategy also provided $2.5 million to educate the aged care industry in general about LGBTI issues.

Labor introduced this national framework because we believe that LGBTI seniors must not be forgotten.

There is now an improved national framework to better support LGBTI seniors through aged care, and we must ensure these efforts can continue and are not watered down by an Abbott-led Government.

I’m incredibly proud to have the opportunity to stand for the seat of Griffith.

I’ve been a southsider almost my entire adult life. It’s a community I care about deeply and it’s where I am raising my kids.

The people I’ve spoken to during this by-election campaign are concerned about the Abbott Government’s broken promises on education funding, on healthcare, and on high-speed broadband.

Our community deserves a strong voice – and a vocal local member.

Whether it’s marriage equality or standing up for access to healthcare, the people of Griffith need a strong local member who will be more than just a rubber stamp for Abbott, (Premier) Campbell Newman and the LNP.

That’s why this by-election is so important and why we must win it.

Terri Butler tweets under @terrimbutler and her website is here.

INFO: The LNP Candidate Dr Bill Glasson did reply to requests for an interview or the request for him to write for Soapbox.



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