With the election being called, the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (VGLRL) and New South Wales Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (NSW GLRL) have outlined the issues that they are focussing on this election campaign.
The two lobby groups are working with other community organisations on a joint campaign on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) rights in the lead up to the federal election.
“For the health, wellbeing and safety of our communities, it’s paramount that we ensure LGBTI issues are among the top of the agenda this federal election,” said NSW GLRL Co-Convenor’s Lauren Foy and Chris Pycroft. “Now is the chance for us to show federal politicians the increasing number of voters that include equality for LGBTI people in deciding how they vote.”
The VGLRL conducted a community survey during this year’s Midsumma Carnival, which will influence the lobbying efforts in the lead up to the election.
One of the lobby groups’ key election asks will be taking action to reduce high of violence and harassment against LGBTI students and ensuring that young LGBTI people feel safe at school.
“The attacks on Safe Schools are clearly having an impact. LGBTI Victorians ranked mental health and safe schooling as issues of high importance to them in our community survey. We will calling for all parties to take steps to combat homophobia, biphobia and transphobia occurring in schools,” said VGLRL Co-Convenor’s Rachael Hambleton and Sean Mulcahy. “The mental health and wellbeing of LGBTI young people should not be a political football.”
Another key ask of the parties will be to increase engagement with the LGBTI community through a Commissioner with specific responsibility for LGBTI rights, a party spokesperson on issues relating to the LGBTI equality, and a whole-of-government LGBTI Ministerial Advisory Group.
“In the current political climate, there is a demonstrable need for a Commissioner with specific responsibility for LGBTI rights,” said Sean Mulcahy. “Here in Victoria, the Commissioner for Gender and Sexuality is making strong inroads in helping Government and private organisations to be more inclusive and understanding of the needs of LGBTI people. We believe this is a model the federal parties should consider adopting.”
Equality and non-discrimination
“It is concerning that despite advances in policing and anti-discrimination protections, LGBTI Victorians in our community survey still consider discrimination, harassment and hate speech to be an issue of high importance,” said Rachael Hambleton.
The lobby groups are calling on parties to remove certain exemptions from anti-discrimination laws, including provisions affecting trans and intersex sportspeople.
“Discrimination and vilification has been identified by LGBTI people as an issue of concern in New South Wales, with many exemptions still in place. This election is an opportunity for political leaders to demonstrate their commitment to equality before the law,” said Chris Pycroft.
Health and ageing
Research shows that LGBTI people can have poor mental health outcomes. The lobby groups are calling for action to address the mental health of LGBTI people, including the provision of ongoing funding for the national LGBTI telephone support helpline, Q-Life.
“A national, co-ordinated approach is needed to address the heath needs of LGBTI Australians, particularly the needs of older LGBTI people,” said Lauren Foy.
Relationship recognition and marriage equality
The lobby groups continue to call on the parties to reject a public vote on marriage equality and address this matter through a vote of the Parliament.
“70% of LGBTI Australians do not support a national vote on marriage equality. It is unnecessary, costly and potentially harmful to young or vulnerable LGBTIQ people and their families,” said Chris Pycroft.
With the electoral rolls closing at 8.00pm – Monday 23 May 2016, the lobby groups are urging the LGBTI community to Enrol for Equality. To enrol or update your details online, visit: www.aec.gov.au/enrol
“By enrolling now and making sure those around you are enrolled too, you can help us show the Government that Australians everywhere believe in fairness and equality for LGBTI people – and will vote for it,” Rachael Hambleton added.
For more information, visit their Facebook Page.