Both major parties ignored the LGBTIQA+ vote. It cost them dearly!

Opinion piece. Bill Rutkin is a shareholder in QNews, but plays no role in the day to day management of the business.. He is a board member of Just Equal Australia.


Bill Rutkin looks at the changing pattern of the LGBTIQA+ vote in the 2022 federal election. He believes the major parties must learn lessons they assiduously avoided over the course of the last government.

Both major political parties and all the analysts steadfastly refuse to see the woods for Australia’s brightly coloured, autumnal trees. Last Saturday’s election featured a seismic shift in the voting patterns of the LGBTIQA+ communities, our families, friends and allies. But the voting power of the LGBTIQA+ vote is not concentrated. It is widely disbursed and thus grossly underestimated.

Why LGBTIQA+ communities changed their vote

Although diverse and widely disbursed,  the LGBTIQ community is neither ignorant nor rusted on. Because of the real-world impact of legislative decisions on our lives, we constitute a highly political literate voting group.

Unequal, unfair, and unnecessary treatment, leaves us with much to complain about. Clearly, our community and personal best interests demand we support political parties and politicians who listen to, respect and engage with our demands for fairness and equality. The recent election gave the Rainbow Community a golden opportunity to make our voice heard.  Overwhelmingly, we took it.

Not a single issue constituency

Analysis of the 2022 election so far mainly credits climate change concerns as driving Saturday’s massive voting shift. But this heteronormative view of the world fails to consider all the evidence. This single issue does not motivate the LGBTIQA+ vote in isolation.

In the recent past, a clique of extremist, religiously-motivated LNP politicians directly threatened our communities. Acting in an orchestrated manner, the group hijacked control of a major political party. This coterie either ignored or schemed for the loss of genuinely liberal voices from the party room. The LNP leadership and the out-of-touch Murdoch media contended they were responding to wokeness and protecting already overly-powerful religious interests and privileges. In fact, they were attempting, once again, to suppress a minority in Australia and reclaim their previous and much-mourned entitlement to privilege.

Politicians regularly proclaim a commitment to fairness and equality. But neither the LNP, the Labor leadership, the Murdoch media, nor the nation’s far-right religious leaders cared about the harm caused by the proposed discriminatory legislation.

Misjudgment by both major parties

Labor lost much of its hoped-for wave of support by failing to take a stand on LGBTIQA+ established protections. The party absolutely failed to hear,  support or protect a community that previously overwhelmingly supported it. This happened despite the ALP’s leaders being endlessly briefed by advocacy organizations Just Equal and Equality Australia. The ALP leaders know all too well that the LGBTIQA+ community remains subject to innumerable discriminations & prejudices.  Can anyone in the ALP seriously still wonder why so many of us feel betrayed?

Both major parties demonstrably suffer from heteronormative blinkers and willful ignorance.

Why did Rainbow voters choose Green or Teal over Labor?

The Rainbow Community consumes media, very much informed by our lived experience. Our advocacy and our community support organizations consistently keep us particularly well appraised of issues and potential negative impacts of legislative and administrative changes in our society.

The major organizations consulted widely on what concerned our communities. Our community press kept us apprised of both threats to equality and regressive legal and social steps.  Unsurprisingly, social media works in the hands of rainbow warriors trying to communicate their anger, fears, and negative experiences in precisely the same way as it does for heterosexual people.

Our informed communities thus responded to the imminent threat they perceived to our individual and collective wellbeing.

Our choices were fairly clear

The Teals offered a range of policies that, superficially at least, satisfied our collective immediate needs. Based on the representation of Helen Haines and Zali Steggle they seem trustworthy. It remains to be seen if their commitment to gender issues is a close match to our Rainbow needs and demands.

The Greens offered a very clear choice with well-articulated policies on climate and LGBTIQA+ issues. Their success in inner Brisbane — and increased vote across Australia, supports the contention of an informed and motivated constituency exercising their voting right.

The inner-city Brisbane electoral outcomes also suggest that Labor received a wave of LGBTIQA+ second preferences. Now it is for the Labor government to understand that the Rainbow Community will not accept a One-Bone-a-Term reform agenda. This term, the government must move on LGBTIQA+ reforms in a consultative and comprehensive manner.

The evidence from Brisbane and from the fate of the ‘moderate’ Liberals in urbanized centres evidences an LNP entirely out of touch with Australian electors.  Tasmania’s Bridget Archer, the Liberal who crossed the floor for fairness and equality, subsequently faced a massive, local, brutally negative campaign from the Australian Christian Lobby. But contrary to all expectations, she retained her seat. The LNP must determine their future themselves, and fairly quickly if they want a future in an Australia where the majority of citizens actually believe in equality and understand how a democracy works.

Hopefully, the beneficiaries of our votes live up to the promise we responded to with votes. And hopefully, Labor also comes to understand the foolhardiness of failing a community that offered unwavering support for generations.

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  1. Shane Brown
    25 May 2022

    The Religious Discrimination Bill, even with its amendments to protect school kids, was a disgraceful piece of legislation that threw the rest of the LGBTIQ community under the bus. The ALP supported this. Kristina Keneally even promised to bring it back if the ALP won this election. We dodged a bullet with her failing to win her electorate. I won’t disclose how I voted for all 11 candidates on my HOR ballot, but it was LNP at 11 and ALP at 10. I need a clear commitment from the ALP that this bill is never going to be resurrected before I’ll even contemplate giving them my vote again.

  2. Peter Turner
    28 May 2022

    My hope is that the ALP stayed under the radar on both the Religious Discrimination Bill and other demands of our community to avoid weaponising Morriscum’s outright attacks.

    Only time will tell but I remain hopeful. With the support of the Greens and the teal independents much will be possible in this term of Government m

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