MP reveals tragic death of gay nephew in moving speech on religion bill

stephen jones labor mp religious discrimination bill
Image: Australian Parliament

Federal Labor MP Stephen Jones has delivered a moving and personal speech on the Religious Discrimination Bill, speaking about his gender non-conforming son and revealing the tragic death of a gay nephew.

The federal parliament met for the first sitting day of the year on Tuesday. MPs resumed debate on the Morrison Government’s contentious Religious Discrimination Bill.

Stephen Jones, who is Catholic, told the parliament he supports religious freedom. However he said the Morrison government have “failed to bring forward a law which protects children.”

In the speech on Tuesday night, the New South Wales MP spoke of his own 14 year-old son, who is gay.

Jones described him as a “courageous” and talented make-up artist who “moves seamlessly between the wardrobes of men and women”.

“He wears heels that give me vertigo and has more handbags than his sister,” he said.

“He has more courage than any boy I have ever, ever met and he swims against the tide.

“I love and support him unconditionally. I brag about his talents to anybody willing to stop for two minutes and glance at his Instagram page.”

But Jones shared that he “worries himself sick” whenever the teenager leaves the house.

“I know the love and protection that he enjoys with his mother, with his friends and family is very different to the reception he may receive in the world outside,” he said.

“Could this be the day when we get a call telling us that something has happened?

“That he has been attacked just for being who he is?”

Stephen Jones also shared that his family was grieving his nephew Ollie, who was gay. The 15-year-old died by suicide last week, he said.

“He was uncertain about his gender and struggled with his mental health. Now he is gone,” the MP said.

“Clearly the love and acceptance of his family and friends was not enough.”

‘What message do we want to send?’ Stephen Jones asks

Stephen Jones said Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other MPs should walk in the “heels” of his son and others.

“I’d ask the Prime Minister and every other member in this place to put themselves in the shoes of the parents or the heels of their kids as they step out in public,” he said.

“What message do we want this Parliament to send to these kids?

“Are they as loved and cherished and respected as every other kid?

“Surely, we aren’t saying, ‘It’s okay if you’re gay, just so long as we don’t see it.’ Surely we can do better than that.”

The Labor MP said all politicians have a responsibility to “craft a national story” that “includes all of us”.

“Being an Aussie is much more than punting on the Melbourne Cup and shouting ‘Go Saints’ or ‘Go Sharkies,’” he said.

“It’s a bloody diverse place. It’s black, it’s white, it’s brown.

“It prays in a church, in a mosque, n a shrine, in a synagogue, in a hall, or on a surfboard just behind the breaks.

“It’s men, it’s women, it’s straight, it’s gay, it’s trans, it’s intersex. It’s our whole bloody lot.

“We are the Australia of Storm Boy, of Breaker Morant, of Puberty Blues and yes, of Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

“It’s not easy crafting a national story that includes all of us, but that’s our damned job.

“The national story must have a place for all of us and all of our kids – how we imagine them, but more importantly how they are.

“If a young kid has the courage to be themselves and own their identity, the very least we can do is say, ‘Welcome’.”

Jones did not call for the Bill to be scrapped. However he called on both Morrison and Labor leader Anthony Albanese to “take a step back”.

“[Don’t] do something in the name of freedom of religion that does damage or harm to those of us who we love,” he said.

Federal Labor meet to discuss Religious Discrimination Bill

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pitched the contentious Religious Discrimination Bill as protecting Australians of faith from discrimination.

But LGBTIQ advocates and others warn the legislation goes too far and will greenlight “state-sanctioned discrimination” against other groups.

Yesterday Prime Minister Scott Morrison won the support of his party room for the legislation.

However some moderate Liberals have voiced various concerns.

Federal Labor has also come under fire for mixed messages on their position on the Religious Discrimination Bill.

On Wednesday morning the party met for a shadow cabinet meeting to discuss its stance on the government’s draft laws.

Debate on the Religious Discrimination Bill will continue in the federal parliament.

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  1. Yolande Stiffel
    9 February 2022

    Stephen Jones has my greatest admiration for standing up and supporting his son but even more for sharing his story within the confines of a political and toxic environment.

  2. C
    10 February 2022

    Mr Jones was awesome.
    My condolences for the sad loss of your Gay family member Ollie.

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