Whatever the outcome of next week’s federal election, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups say that they and their families will come second – again.
“LGBT Australians are sick of being taken for granted by the ALP and Coalition,” Russell Flynn, spokesperson for the Queensland Queer Coalition said today.
“At this late stage of the election campaign, neither has produced a proactive or comprehensive policy response to our needs. They have no policies to address homophobia and discrimination, no policies to prevent and respond to crime and violence against us, no commitment to promote the capacity and resilience of our communities, or to provide access to the health and community services we need”, he said.
“The very first thing they could do is stand up to Queensland Families First candidate Wendy Francis’ inflammatory and uninformed opinions”, he went on. “Her weekend tweets betray not only her own divisive and hate-fueled ignorance, but highlight the very community education and other reforms necessary to ensure a cohesive, inclusive and supportive Australian community for all”.
The Qld Queer Coalition believes that to stand silent on Francis’ statements is to stand in support of them.
“The Democrats and Greens have policies which address the longstanding legislative, human rights, community and health issues that impact on us,” Flynn said, “But the only commitment coming from the Coalition and ALP, is to stand firm on their own out-of-step pledges to continue to deny LGBT Australians full citizenship and valued status in our 21st Century democracy”.
In the lead-up to “Queer the Vote!”, the much anticipated Queensland LGBT Federal Election Forum this Friday night, the statewide Queensland Queer Coalition of community groups has called on both the ALP and Coalition to catch-up with the rest of Australia, and to “get over themselves” on LGBT issues.
“It’s time they all showed some backbone and put up, or shut up on queer rights”, Flynn said. “Every election the ALP and Coalition placate us with sympathetic treaties to, “Be patient; the community isn’t ready”. At least Ms Francis is honest and clearly doesn’t want our votes”.
Independent surveys show that 65% of Australians support law reforms, including marriage. The ALP and Coalition choose to ignore this data. Instead scapegoating the communities they represent; communities which are far more socially progressive than the ALP, Coalition, and especially Families First.
“It’s time they either made firm commitments on issues that affect us, our families and our citizenship, or stop trying to pretend to us they’ll do this in some yet to be determined, distant future”, Flynn said.
“Despite the Government’s morally overstated social security and superannuation reforms, there is no commitment to government funding for community education campaigns to break down stigma or marginilisation of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender Australians and our families, or to combat the significantly disproportionate violence reported against us”, Mr. Flynn said. “Violence which we believe is fueled by statements such as those of Ms Francis”.
“In stark lack-of-contrast, the Coalition has sent a very loud message to our communities by being completely silent on community supports and services, consultation and engagement, as well as the strengthening of anti-discrimination legislation and responses”.
“Neither political force has promised to deliver any new initiatives to combat violence against us, bullying in schools, or to promote our valued place in all Australian communities”, he went on.
“On marriage however, they each have acted decisively and stated that they WILL deny us access to that particular legal institution, despite us being citizens of this democracy”, Flynn said.
As 10% of the electorate, the LGBT vote is important – it can have a large impact, especially in the senate.
Today the Queensland Queer Coalition called on the ALP and Coalition to woo the votes of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Australians.
By committing to:
1. Acting on discrimination through removal of all legislation and language in government which discriminates against people with alternative sexualities and gender identities; this would include consistent age of consent laws across the nation;
2. Strengthening our communities by funding LGBT community organizations to promote LGBT community identity, capacity and resilience;
3. Committing to consultation and engagement by imbedding resourced consultative mechanisms within government to inform policy, planning and funding initiatives, as exist for other equity groups;
4. Promote our valued place in our communities, wherever we live by working with us to develop resourced, long-term community education and capacity building organizations and campaigns to combat discrimination, marginalization and violence against LGBT Australians. This would include a focus on school-yard bullying of children and young people, abuse and family breakdown;
5. Acting on community services and supports by funding targeted LGBT community services across life stages, as well as sector development for other “generic” service providers which promotes our access and increases their understanding and cultural competence;
6. Committing to advocacy by consulting with us to develop a national, funded, framework for LGBT advocacy;
7. Remove all legal discrimination by delivering equal access to the laws of Australia (including marriage);
8. Support our families by ensuring equal access to family and child related benefits and programmes provided or funded by the Commonwealth Government, to LGBT families;
9. Provide a health system which meets our needs by engaging with us to ensure any reforms of the health and hospital system increases LGBT access to the culturally competent and medically skilled primary, secondary and tertiary health care we need;
10. Protect us from violence by working with us and the wider community to develop responses which prevent crime and violence against us, and respond to it appropriately, when it occurs.
“In all of this we remember our rural, regional and remote community members and those with additional disadvantage: those of us from indigenous or non-anglo Australian backgrounds; those with disabilities, who are elderly; those who experience homelessness, abuse or poor mental health; those of us without strong support networks.
In places and at times in our lives when community is difficult to find and maintain, there is a need for innovation, community education, health and community services which are accessible to us, meet our needs and address our vulnerabilities.
Therefore, we call on the 2 major forces in Australian politics to commit to working with us to identify and meet the needs of those LGBT Australians who don’t live in the CBD or on the East Coast and most importantly, our most vulnerable members; those who experience isolation from family and community, homelessness and other disadvantage”, Flynn said.
Source: Qld Queer Coalition media release