LGBTIQ advocates have criticised federal Labor for “weak and diminished” commitments to LGBTIQ+ equality in its new draft policy platform.
Labor is holding their national conference virtually on March 30 and 31. Over 400 delegates will get a say on the new draft platform during the conference.
However responding to the latest draft, just.equal spokesperson Dr Charlie Burton says its a “watered-down version” of the consultation draft. That earlier draft was itself a “gutted version” of what Labor took to the last election, Burton said.
In both drafts, Labor dropped commitments to end coercive intersex surgeries and reduce out-of-pocket transgender medical costs.
The party also removed an explicit commitment to ensuring schools are safe and supportive for all students regardless of sexuality and gender identity.
It has also dropped all references to HIV for the first time in a generation, Burton said.
“[Labor leader] Anthony Albanese wants Australians to believe that Labor is on their side,” Dr Burton said.
“But that isn’t the case if you’re a baby born with variations of sex characteristics, a trans person seeking equal access to health care, or an LGBTIQ student at a faith-based school.
“LGBTIQ people [will] suffer increased harassment under the Morrison Government’s proposed Religious Discrimination Bill.
“They also don’t know if Labor is on their side because Anthony Albanese refuses to say whether Labor will oppose that Bill.”
Anthony Albanese says Labor had too many policies at 2019 election
In 2019, Labor leader Anthony Albanese said he believed the party needed a clearer and more concise mission statement.
The longtime LGBTIQ advocate said he believed one of the reasons Labor lost that year was because they had “too many policies”, confusing and overwhelming voters.
“I don’t think if it’s a matter of left or right. I think we had too much. The agenda was too big,” he said at the time.
However Dr Burton said it is “disappointing and very concerning” that Labor’s LGBTIQ+ policy commitments seemingly “continue to go backwards.”
“In the 2018 platform the term LGBTIQ appeared 46 times, now it appears eight times,” Burton said.
“While we accept that Labor has slimmed down its national platform, the axe has fallen disproportionately on the LGBTIQ+ community. Especially young people, who are desperately in need of our protection and support.
“Labor’s 2019 election loss was not the fault of LGBTIQ+ people. But we seem to be the ones being punished for it.
“Labor was keen to walk down the aisle with us on marriage equality in 2017, but now it looks like it wants a divorce.”
Dr Burton urged Conference delegates to “use their voices to ensure the ALP’s platform is not silent on key LGBTIQ+ issues, in what is likely an election year.”
No position on Morrison Government’s Religious Discrimination Bill
just.equal’s Dr Charlie Burton said one improvement in the new platform is a stronger commitment to banning harmful conversion practices.
Burton said Labor should also commit to protecting trans, gender diverse and intersex Australians from unfair dismissal in the Fair Work Act.
There are also no commitments to LGBTIQ+ anti-vilification protections in the platform, despite there being two separate references to religious vilification, Dr Burton said.
Labor has also walked back its previous election commitment to an LGBTI human rights commissioner.
After the 2019 election, Labor faced criticism for abandoning its commitment to a dedicated equality portfolio.
The party also has not yet announced any position on the Morrison Government’s controversial Religious Discrimination Bill.
The first two drafts of the legislation caused outrage for rolling back discrimination protections for LGBTIQ people and other minorities in the name of “religious freedom”.
It’s not known when the Coalition will unveil its third draft of the legislation.
The next federal election isn’t due until 2022. However Prime Minister Scott Morrison may call it before the end of the year.
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