‘Betrayal’: Labor roasted for backtracking on LGBTQIA+ commitments

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in federal parliament
Image: ABC

Labor has been criticised over a proposal to “significantly” cut back their party platform’s pre-election commitments on LGBTIQA+ issues.

The Australian Labor Party put out its draft 2023 National Platform for consultation this week.

The new draft removes a commitment from Labor’s previous 2021 platform to “strengthen laws and expand initiatives against discrimination, vilification and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics”.

Instead, the new draft states, “Labor will work closely with LGBTIQ Australians and advocates to develop policy that meets the specific needs of the community to ensure equality with broader Australian society”.

LGBTQIA+ advocate Alastair Lawrie first called out the party’s move. He described the new language as so “generic and bland” it is almost “meaningless”, while Labor was at the same time retaining a specific commitment to prohibit religious vilification.

The draft document also waters down other specific commitments to trans, gender diverse Australians, including on affordable healthcare, and supporting intersex Australians.

On Friday, the Greens LGBTQIA+ spokesperson Stephen Bates also hit out at the new draft document, which he said was coming at “the worst possible time”.

“At a time when LGBTIQA+ people, particularly the trans and gender diverse community, are being subjected to growing hate, threats and extremism, the removal of Labor’s pre-election positions are unconscionable,” he said.

“Between Labor’s pre-election National Platform in 2021 and today’s, we have witnessed a national hate tour and neo-Nazi rally against trans and gender-diverse Australians, and attacks and threats of violence against Drag Story Times and artistry.

“We are experiencing a storm of social media abuse and harmful national debate about our right to exist and live with equality, respect and safety.

“Our LGBTIQA+ community in Australia deserves better than Labor’s erasure of our identities and our struggles.”

‘Betrayal’ of queer voters

A Labor spokesperson said the draft is for consultation, and the party’s national conference of 400 delegates will decide the final wording. The conference is in Brisbane in August.

“National conference will update Labor’s platform to set out how the Albanese government will advance our agenda of fairness and create a better future for all Australians,” the spokesperson said.

Just.Equal spokesperson Rodney Croome said with vilification on the rise, it was a betrayal for Labor to weaken its platform and the party was pushing voters away.

“Just.Equal’s voter survey after the 2021 federal election found many LGBTIQA+ people who voted Labor in 2019 deserted to the Greens in 2021 due to Labor’s weak record,” he said.

“It seems Labor’s leadership is intent on accelerating that trend.”

The group called on LGBTIQA+ organisations and individual to have their say on Labor’s draft platform consultation on the issues important to them.

Just.Equal spokesperson and trans rights advocate Sally Goldner slammed Labor for weakening its policy commitments to trans and gender diverse people “at a time when anti-trans discrimination and hatred is at fever pitch.”

“Labor has caved in to the bullies by abandoning its commitment to affordable health care,” she said.

“We need stronger leadership from the Government if we are to stem the tide of anti-trans hate.

She said Labor is also backing down from previous commitments to intersex rights, as state and territory jurisdictions like the ACT move forward.

Greens warn of Religious Discrimination Bill comeback

Stephen Bates said the Greens are “deeply concerned” the proposed changes are a prelude to Labor introducing their own version of the Morrison government’s Religious Discrimination Bill next year.

“Such a Bill could well permit, in law, vilification against LGBTIQA+ people and several other cohorts under the guise of religious freedom,” he said.

Equality Australia CEO Anna Brown told The Guardian it was “disappointing that Labor appears to have backtracked” amid recent “horrifying public displays of anti-trans hate and an escalation in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and violence”.

“Many LGBTIQ+ people face daily harassment, particularly online, simply for being who they are,” she said.

Anna Brown said “laws should protect all of us, equally” and Labor should commit to queer Australians having the “same protections as people of faith” including on anti-vilification.

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.

Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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