PFLAG calls for federal Gender and Sexuality Comissioner


pflag spokesperson shelley argent religious discrimination rally brisbane religious freedom
Photo: Jordan Hirst

Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) has called on the Morrison Government to appoint a national Gender and Sexuality Commissioner.

PFLAG national spokesperson Shelley Argent said there are Commissioners for race, sex and disability discrimination.

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But there is currently no Commissioner responsible for tackling discrimination against LGBTIQ people, she said.

“I believe there is a strong need for a national commissioner to promote equality and respect for our LGBTIQ children,” Argent said.

“This country has commissioners and ministers for women, the elderly, Indigenous people, people with disability, and racial minorities but nothing for LGBTIQ people.”

Responding to the Ruddock Review, the Morrison government plans to appoint a Religious Freedom Commissioner to the Human Rights Commission.

There was no call for such an appointment in the review’s recommendations.

Argent said: “We are fearful that the proposed appointment of a Religious Freedom Commission will mean greater attacks on the rights of LGBTIQ people.

“We want officials at the highest level who are looking out for our children.

“Helplines are already stretched to the limit with people concerned about the consequences of the Religious Discrimination Bill.

“If there is to be a Commissioner to help people of faith assert their rights, we need a commissioner to do the same for LGBTIQ people.”

Political parties won’t commit to dedicated Commissioner

Victoria is the only Australian state or territory that currently has a dedicated Gender and Sexuality Commissioner.

Ro Allen was appointed to the role in Victoria in 2015 following the election of Daniel Andrews’ Labor government.

Responding to a community survey ahead of the 2019 federal election, the Morrison government did not commit to appointing a federal gender and sexuality commissioner if elected.

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“The Morrison government will continue to consult with the LGBTIQ organisations across the broad range of policy issues affecting LGBTIQ Australians within our existing frameworks,” a spokesperson said at the time.

“Issues facing the LGBTIQ community are handled across government according to Ministerial responsibilities and administrative arrangements.”

Federal Labor had proposed the appointment of a federal Gender and Sexuality Commissioner ahead of the 2019 federal election.

The opposition also previously had a shadow minister for equality in the shadow cabinet from 2016 onwards.

But new Labor leader Anthony Albanese scrapped the shadow equality minister position when he took over the leadership.

Albanese defended the move, saying Labor was dedicated to equality but all shadow ministers would pick up the responsibilities.

“Shadow ministers should reflect who they’re shadowing. The job of a shadow minister is to shadow an opponent,” he said.

“But regarding equality, that’s a core function of Labor. Equality is part of everything we do.”

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