Australia has just elected its first ever openly gay man to the House of Representatives with former vice-president of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association, Trent Zimmerman retaining the seat of North Sydney for the Liberal Party over the weekend at the bi-election caused by the retirement of Joe Hockey.
While Australia has had a number of openly gay senators, including Labor’s Penny Wong, former Greens leader Bob Brown and Liberal Dean Smith, the House of Representatives has never had an openly gay or lesbian MP before – a fact that Zimmerman made reference to in his victory speech.
“I know that tonight in some ways is a very historic moment for the Australian Parliament and I’m very cognisant of that fact,” he said.
Zimmerman’s speech also broached the subject of same-sex marriage.
“I would have supported a free vote and preferred it to be decided by the Parliament,” he said. “But that’s the path we are going to go down so I will be strongly advocating, both in North Sydney and more broadly, a Yes vote for that plebiscite.”
Zimmerman is a former North Sydney City councilor and has also served as an adviser to Joe Hockey – a man Zimmerman says he has a tremendous respect for, despite their differing views on same-sex marriage.