Rodney Croome spells out his hopes and fears for the 2022 Federal election and the strategies he believes will move equality ahead despite the challenges faced by the LGBTIQ+ communities.
Rodney Croome is a spokesperson for Just.Equal Australia. He has campaigned for LGBTIQ+ rights in every federal election since 1990.
The 2022 federal election is shaping up as the worst ever for the LGBTIQ+ community.
But there are strategies we can adopt to mitigate the harm and move equality forward.
Purity and panic
The Coalition will campaign on its thwarted Religious Discrimination Bill that sought to roll back existing LGBTIQ+ discrimination protections.
It will also campaign against transgender equality and LGBTIQ+ school inclusion.
The trans battle lines have been set by Senator Claire Chandler’s bill excluding trans girls and women from women’s sport and by the pre-selection of Katherine Deves, an obsessive campaigner on the same issue.
This won’t be some boutique issue. Both have the Prime Minister’s imprimatur. Trans exclusion will be central to the campaign he hopes to run.
As for LGBTIQ+ school inclusion, it’s hard to say exactly how this will be framed.
But the fact amendments protecting trans kids in faith-based schools saw the Government abandon its Religious Discrimination Bill, and the current obsession with ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bills in the US Republican Party, makes an attack on inclusive schools very likely.
The wider problems faced by the Coalition government, far from drawing it closer to the centre, seem to be driving it further right.
It looks like an institution in search of moral “purity”, rather than one which embraces diverse views.
The more desperate it becomes, the harder it will hit the LGBTIQ+ moral panic button.
The price of factionalism
Labor’s small-target approach to this election makes it very unlikely it will properly defend us.
It voted for the Religious Discrimination Bill despite that Bill being a backlash to marriage equality.
In particular, it voted for the Bill’s override of exiting state discrimination protections for LGBTIQ+ people, despite its promise not to do precisely that.
To prove he is “mainstream” and “not woke”, Anthony Albanese has thrown trans people under the bus in two separate interviews where he was asked the set-up question, “can men have babies?”
— The Today Show (@TheTodayShow) April 3, 2022
He could have explained like Joe Biden did during the American presidential campaign, that the real issue is violence and discrimination against trans folk.
Instead, he took the low road, revelling in a chance to take sides in a confected anti-trans culture war.
To its credit, Labor does support protecting LGBTIQ+ kids from discrimination at faith-based schools.
But its commitment to protecting LGBTIQ+ teachers, and staff in other faith-based organisations, is unclear.
An explicit commitment from Labor
This is why Just.Equal is seeking an explicit commitment from Labor to these protections.
Labor apologists argue the Party must give in to prejudice and jettison the LGBTIQ+ community during the election if it is to win government and help us later.
But their logic couldn’t be faultier.
There is no evidence whatsoever that supporting LGBTIQ+ equality cost Labor the last election, or will cost it this one.
Labor is avoiding LGBTIQ+ issues because of divisions in its own ranks, especially between the Left and the Catholic Right.
LGBTIQ+ people should not have to pay the price of Labor’s factionalism.
Meanwhile, history clearly shows that a Labor Party which refuses to commit to LGBTIQ+ equality before an election is unlikely to do so after.
If you need an example, look to the WA state government that promised us nothing before the last election and has done nothing since winning that election, despite its thumping victory.
The Greens are also wobbling on LGBTIQ+ issues. Last election, they slid backwards on removing the gay blood ban. Ahead of this election, 300 members in Victoria wrote a letter to the party hierarchy demanding it show unequivocal support for transgender equality.
According to the Age, this was because “the issue has been simmering for years in the Victorian branch”.
We must work to make sure this internal frisson won’t stop the Greens from strongly defending trans and gender diverse people from the hateful campaigning we know is coming.
In every past election campaign, there have been some LGBTIQ+ advocates who defend one or other party from criticism.
They effuse about very modest promises from their preferred party and go silent in the face of actual LGBTIQ-phobia within these parties.
Sometimes they are connected to political parties. Some just acquiesce to the powers-that-be in order to position themselves for influence, funding or jobs after the election.
During the 2022 election, when the stakes are so high, we can’t afford this kind of friendly fire. All LGBTIQ+ advocates must be focused on obtaining substantial pre-election policy commitments and on putting community before party or self-interest.
How can we best defend ourselves from the coming onslaught and move LGBTIQ+ equality forward?
We must prepare our supporters in both major parties, in the Greens and among the independents by talking them through what is likely to happen and how they can best respond.
The choice they face is whether to sit the culture war out or face it down.
We need to show them that it is to their advantage to face it down and give them the human stories, data and key points they will need to do this.
We must also encourage them to speak up for the policies we actually want.
2022 federal election priorities survey
To this end Just.Equal Australia is conducting a pre-2022 federal election priorities survey that will close soon. You can take it here!
One of the strongest features of the campaign against the Religious Discrimination Bill was working with other groups disadvantaged by that Bill including people with disability, women, business and union groups and minority faith communities.
We must replicate this successful strategy during the election, working with allies to show we all suffer when prejudice is given a green light.
Most of all we have to stand up for ourselves and maintain high expectations.
This means calling out prejudice when we see it even if it’s from people who call themselves our allies.
It means demanding the policies we actually need rather than settling for vague principles, second-best options, or funding for street parties as a substitute for law reform.
Most of all it means having faith in ourselves, our cause and our fellow Australians regardless of what the world throws at us.
Use your vote wisely at the 2022 federal election!
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.