I AM a lesbian. I have “come-out” twice. Yes, twice. I first came out as a teenager – until my parents and society at the time made me feel I was somehow less a person. To me it wasn’t as issue: I was just me.

So I spent my 20s and 30s back in the closet. I became as constructive member of society in a “closeted, heterosexual” kind of way, watching the LGBTI community constantly struggle with so many emotional and legal issues: such as mental health and suicide, segregation, transphobia, marriage inequality and consistent funding cuts.

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When I came back out, I did it with a mission. I established the Sunshine Coast Rainbow Network to try to help the LGBTI communities both regionally and in Brisbane; to connect, to network and to find support. I joined the Gay and Lesbian Welfare Association as a regional representative and I have been involved as much as I can to help further improve the rights, and lives, of my community. The closing of the Queensland AIDS Council (QuAC) on the Sunshine Coast was devastating to our gay community, as was the closure of Biala and, more recently, the withdrawal of funding for QuAC in Brisbane.

When I decided to join the Queensland Greens officially, after having long been a supporter, it was with these things in mind. I became a candidate for Caloundra looking to not only fight for our own local issues but also to have the opportunity to be a greater advocate for the LGBTI community. The Queensland Greens have always had a Sexuality and Gender Identity Policy and have been firm supporters for marriage equality.

Now, thanks to the work of Kirsten Lovejoy – our Greens candidate for Brisbane Central – and a number of other LGBTI advocates, our 2015 Policy Platform for LGBTI Issues is live and incredibly comprehensive, keeping with our contemporary issues.

These include (among many):

  • Abolishing the “gay panic” defence by amending the Criminal Code so that non-violent sexual advances cannot constitute a defence of provocation

  • Equalising the age of consent laws in all sex acts in Queensland

  • Expunging historical consensual gay sex convictions

  • Support the full roll-out of the Safe Schools Coalition across all Queensland schools and support the implementing of the adopted policy statement of the Education Department on supporting same sex attracted, intersex and trans* students at school

  • Increased provision of financial and in-kind support for Brisbane Pride Festival programs

  • Restoring funding to QuAC and the provision of further assistance to extend support services within the wider community – including funding to Clinic30 to provide services to our community, addressing mental health issues and sexually transmitted diseases

  • Amendment of the Adoption Act to provide equality of access to adoption for same sex couples. This includes amending the law to allow all people to be eligible to adopt surrendered children, and to also allow LGBTI people to adopt their partner’s children, enabling greater certainty about next of kin status and legal certainty regarding giving consent in emergency medical situations.

Other services we will address include the development of a LGBTI Commitment Statement for the whole Queensland government. This would acknowledge and validate LGBTI citizens, establish an LGBTI committee consisting of MPs and citizens to advise government and continue discussion, and appoint a Minister for Equality.

As an identified lesbian, and an advocate for LGBTI rights – I applaud this updated policy platform. For 23 years Queensland Greens have been standing up for social justice, and I thoroughly support them. Every Green member and supporter – whether gay or straight, are 100 per cent unequivocal in their support for marriage equality, and we will continue to work towards this goal.

The Queensland Greens believe that:

  • It is a human right to live free from discrimination, including on the basis of sexuality or gender identity

  • Acceptance and celebration of diversity enhance society as a whole

  • People have the right to be recognised in their lived gender

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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

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