Joe Biden has a bold agenda for LGBTIQ equality. The new American president’s LGBTIQ vision highlights discrimination in the Coalition’s policies as well as Labor’s lack of commitment.
In 2020 most Australians viewed the US with a mix of horror and pity. In 2021, LGBTIQ Australians and our allies will view it with envy.
The incoming Biden administration and the Democrat-dominated Congress have committed to the most far-reaching LGBTIQ equality program of any US government.
It puts both major Australian parties to shame.
Biden v Morrison
President Biden and the Democrats will move in the opposite direction to the current Australian Coalition Government.
Biden has promised to stop discrimination in the name of so-called ‘religious freedom’. However, the Morrison Government still wants to allow such discrimination through its Religious Discrimination Bill.
Biden will overturn the Trump-era trans military ban. He will also fund programs that reduce trans violence, unemployment and re-instate trans-inclusive guidelines for schools and sport.
Meanwhile, members of the Morrison Government continue to stir up fear about state trans equality laws, trans women in sport, gender-neutral toilets and ‘gender whisperers’ in schools.
The Australian Government is about to discover that the backlash to marriage equality it has been riding for three years is waning.
The country that gave rise to that backlash, the United States, is beginning to move on.
Indeed, every country comparable to Australia now has a government friendlier to LGBTIQ equality than ours, arguably even the UK.
Australia’s Coalition Government will look increasingly isolated and embarrassing if it continues to dismiss LGBTIQ community concerns and fails to find ways to address at least some of these concerns.
LGBTIQ Vision of Biden vs LNP ve ALP
Biden v Albanese
The contrast between the US Democrats and the Australian Labor Party is also pretty stark.
At the same time that Joe Biden issued the longest list ever of LGBTIQ election commitments, Labor issued an election platform that actually rolls back the list of commitments it took to the 2018 election.
Whether we’re talking about the removal of anti-LGBTIQ discrimination exemptions, funding LGBTIQ mental health programs, lifting the gay blood ban, or protecting trans employees from unfair treatment, the Democrats’ loud Yes has been met with silence from their Australian Labor counterparts.
The starkest contrast is between Biden saying No to anti-LGBTIQ discrimination in the name of ‘religious freedom’ and Labor’s refusal to oppose Morrison Government bill that will allow precisely such discrimination.
After the last election, the ALP adopted a small-target strategy on LGBTIQ issues, which started with Anthony Albanese dumping the Equality portfolio.
The latest manifestation of this strategy is a draft national platform that throws out many previous LGBTIQ commitments. The new platform leaves a handful of aspirational statements without any details.
The rationale? Labor strategists believe to win government the ALP must win seats in western Sydney and regional Queensland. They also believe that to win these seats it’s best not to talk too much about queer folk.
But Biden won election in the face of anti-LGBTIQ fearmongering from Trump, Republicans, the religious right, Fox News and the MAGA army. In doing so, he exposed the ALP’s small-target strategy as unnecessary and outdated.
Biden won on a bold LGBTIQ platform. Labor too, can be honest, brave and forthright on LGBTIQ equality AND win government.
US v Australia
Joe Biden’s LGBTIQ reform program will hopefully embolden LGBTIQ equality supporters in both major Australian parties.
As news filters through that the American promise of equality and freedom is again being fulfilled for LGBTIQ people, some of Australia’s politicians will realise it’s time for their country to fulfil the same promise.
But that won’t be enough. The Australian LGBTIQ community and its advocates must push both major parties to be better versions of themselves.
We must expose continued discrimination and disadvantage, and then help to write policies and laws to address those problems.
We must all be like the Australian advocates against conversion practices. They share compelling human stories and press ahead despite opposition. Additionally, their new and more effective ways to tackle conversion practices and ideology set a global standard.
Inspired by the new US administration, we Australians must not just imitate and follow, but be bold and lead.
For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.