LGBTIQ advocates are urging opposition leader Anthony Albanese to restore Labor’s LGBTI equality portfolio.
Anthony Albanese announced the party’s new shadow cabinet on Sunday.
But Labor quietly scrapped the frontbench position of Shadow Assistant Minister for Equality.
Just.equal spokesperson Rodney Croome said, “The LGBTI equality portfolio has been crucial to improving Labor’s LGBTI policies.”
The position also set a higher standard on LGBTI issues more broadly, he said.
As a result of the move, there will be “poorer outcomes for LGBTI people,” Croome said.
“We call on Anthony Albanese to reinstate the portfolio and reinstall former LGBTI equality spokesperson, Louise Pratt.”
Labor has had a federal LGBTI equality spokesperson since 2016. The inaugural spokesperson was Brisbane MP Terri Butler, then Senator Louise Pratt.
Albanese defended the move, saying the party believe “shadow ministers should reflect who they’re shadowing.”
“For example, we have a Home Affairs shadow minister now. We didn’t have Home Affairs previously, but now there’s a minister,” he told Junkee.
He said scrapping the role wouldn’t mean less of a focus on LGBTIQ rights going forward.
“The job of a shadow minister is to shadow an opponent. But regarding equality, that’s a core function of Labor,” he said.
“Equality is part of everything we do. I want a health minister who’s concerned about about the rights of LGBTIQ people.
“I want an education minister who’s focused on that, I want that across the board.”
Anthony Albanese’s explanation not sufficient
But Rodney Croome said though the Coalition government has no LGBTI equality spokesperson, Anthony Albanese’s explanation wasn’t good enough.
“Labor made a big point about having a shadow minister for science, when the Abbott Government failed to appoint one,” he said.
He said Labor “can’t now use the Government’s poor form as an excuse.”
“The best way to ensure a whole-of-government focus on LGBTI issues is to have a frontbencher whose job it is to maintain that focus.”
Senator Louise Pratt said Labor’s commitment to LGBTIQ Australians “remains undiminished” by the change.
“We have strong LGBTIQ representation within our party and within our parliamentary team,” she said in a statement.
“Anthony Albanese has made clear that he expects all of his shadow ministers to promote equality for all Australians, including LGBTIQ Australians.”
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