The LGBT community has come a long way in a relatively short period, but there is still a lot still to be done. Now that the new year has again dawned, I have come up with my 10 point wish list of changes that should be made in 2016 for LGBT people both here at home in Queensland and across the world.
1. People should not be persecuted, jailed or killed for being gay.
We must remember that many countries still persecute people because of their sexuality. In some countries, such as Pakistan, sodomy attracts the death penalty. Even in our local area, Papua New Guinea has a punishment for sex “against the order of nature” of up to 14 years jail. Myanmar, Vietnam, Malaysia, parts of Indonesia and South Korea also criminalise gay sex.
2. We should all be equal and accepted for who we are
It is a fundamental of our democracy that all of us are deemed to be equal, and yet there is still legislation across the land that discriminates. Trans and intersex people are particularly disadvantaged and continue to struggle to be recognised and accepted, even within the LGBTI community.
3. We should be allowed to marry
I hope that this year we will have laws in place that will recognise my marriage to my husband Mitchell, and for all other couples, so that the current discrimination in the Marriage Act limiting marriage to “a man and a woman” is ended.
4. We should be allowed to have families
Why is it OK for same sex couples to be accepted throughout Australia to be foster carers, but not to parent? In Queensland the Adoption Act (and the Anti-Discrimination Act) continues to discriminate against same sex couples. In other States there is discrimination when it comes to surrogacy laws.
5. Trans teens and their parents should not be forced to go to the Family Court
Currently to get medication and have operations for teen trans people requires Family Court approval- a costly, long and arduous process, out of the reach of some. As a society, we should be able to do much better.
6. Trans people should not have to get divorced to be recognised
In order for trans people to have their birth certificate altered, they need to be unmarried. This silly and cruel rule requires those in marriages to get divorced.
And here are the no-brainers, which require no more comment:
7. Abolish gay panic defence
8. Have an equal age of consent
9. Expunge previous gay convictions
10. Remove discrimination laws in employment
Stephen Page is a partner of Harrington Family Lawyers and is the current Brisbane Pride Festival LGBTIQ Activist of the Year.