‘Still much to achieve’: QuAC’s Peter Black on LGBTIQ equality

queensland aids council peter black brisbane pride rally
Photo: Jordan Hirst

On the day of the Brisbane Pride Festival Rally and March, the Queensland AIDS Council’s President Peter Black speaks on where we are at and how far we have to go.

This morning I had the privilege to talk about the future of the Queensland AIDS Council and the LGBTI Brotherboy and Sistergirl communities of Queensland at the Brisbane Pride Festival Rally and March.

As I stood from the balcony above Brunswick St, I again felt inspired by the energy, the diversity and the fabulousness of our communities.

From the First Nations people from all across the country and the Torres Strait who once again lead this march, we have much to learn.

To the rainbow families and people marching in their very first Pride, who give us hope for the future.

And to the elders of our LGBTI communities whose courageous lives made possible the freedoms we have today.

Those who march with their workplace, from government departments, the private sector, and universities, are representing a new era of inclusivity in all aspects of our lives.

And everyone else who attends to celebrate our communities, our strength and our spirit.

Still much to achieve for many of our communities

And while there was much to celebrate – after all, we are pretty awesome – many of our communities continue to face disadvantage.

This especially includes those unfairly targeted by the No campaign during the marriage equality postal vote.

There remains much to achieve for people of colour and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTIQ, Brotherboy and Sistergirl community, as well as the trans, intersex and gender diverse community.

To that end the State Government needs to stop delaying reform to Queensland’s Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act.

The Attorney-General first announced an intention to review these laws during the Brisbane Pride Festival in 2016.

More than three years later our gender diverse communities still wait for basic legal recognition. Several other States have leapt ahead. As Queenslanders, we deserve better.

Religious freedoms bills go too far

At a national level, the Federal Government has released a package of radical legislative reforms on religious freedom.

These Religious Freedoms Bills go far beyond protecting people of faith from discrimination in line with Australia’s other anti-discrimination law.

They introduce special entitlements for people of faith. They erode anti-discrimination protection for others, including women and LGBTI people.

If the Government wants to protect religion in our discrimination law framework, do it in the same way as we currently protect age, disability, race and sex.

Don’t privilege religious belief and activity over other beliefs and activities.

Visit the Queensland AIDS Council website to learn more about these reactionary laws. Find out what we can all do to remind the Government that Australians voted YES in 2017. Australians voted YES to fairness and equality, not to more discrimination.

We need to once again come together in all of our strength to ensure equality for all Australians.

When you visit the Queensland AIDS Council website, you will hopefully also observe some of the ways in which we, as an organisation, are changing.

Over the past year, under the leadership of our extraordinary CEO, Rebecca Reynolds, we listened to the voices of our communities all across the State. They told us their ideas for a re-imagined organisation for LGBTI Brotherboy and Sistergirl health in Queensland.

We will soon ask for community consultation on a new strategic plan complementing our new way of working through a partnerships approach. This will ensure we collaborate with our communities to drive the changes we want to achieve for LGBTI Queenslanders. Change not only in Brisbane and Cairns but right across the state.

Government must invest in a dedicated Pride Centre

However, to address the disadvantage many of our communities experience, we also need the government to invest in us, in our organisations and in our communities.

In the past year, we’ve seen Victoria and New South Wales commit to significant capital investments in their LGBTI communities with Pride Centres and LGBTI health centres.

That is why this morning I again called on all levels of government and all political parties to support a similar investment in Queensland.

LGBTI community hubs provide comprehensive LGBTI health services. That includes services for lesbian, bisexual and queer women, who currently have no health services dedicated to them. Services for trans and gender diverse communities are also badly needed.

These types of comprehensive LGBTI health services are not new. Cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Toronto and New York all host them.

A development of this nature would signpost Brisbane and Queensland as a leader in Australia. Further, as a first in the Asia Pacific region, it would attract research and other interest.

Such community hubs would offer a permanent home to many LGBTI led organisations and services. Most of those currently survive with no or limited funding.

We all deserve joy, acceptance and love

Pride is an exciting time for our LGBTI communities. It’s not often we all feel like we belong. As I walked down Brunswick St, it was impossible not to feel the joy, the acceptance and the love.

We all deserve that every day. The dedicated and talented people that work or volunteer for QuAC work hard to realise our vision. We want all LGBTI Queenslanders to live longer and happier lives, with access to services and supports they need.

Happy Pride 2019!

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.

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