‘Say yes again’: LGBTQIA+ orgs weigh in on Voice referendum


BlaQ Aboriginal Corporation group photo
Image: BlaQ Aboriginal Corporation/Facebook

Almost six years ago, Australians voted in favour of marriage equality in the national postal survey. Now almost two dozen Australian LGBTQIA+ groups have thrown their weight behind the upcoming referendum on constitutional recognition of First Nations people.

The national vote, proposing constitutional recognition and an Indigenous Voice to Parliament, will occur between October and December this year. Campaigning by the Yes and No camps is underway.

On Wednesday Equality Australia, the organisation with roots in the successful 2017 marriage survey, drew parallels between the two different polls.

“When there was a public vote about our lives, the majority of Australians had our back and it’s time to pay it forward,” legal director Ghassan Kassisieh said.

“We know that laws and policies are better when governments listen to the voices of people who are most affected.”

Twenty-two LGBTQIA+ businesses and groups across Australia have joined Equality Australia’s rallying cry to support the reform.

BlaQ Aboriginal Corporation is among them. CEO Shane Sturgiss said, “This is the second time our community has had the entire nation eyeballing them.

“Conversations are being had about them in homes around the country. Not all of them are favourable.

“Our queer community knows full well the fight for equality and to have our rights recognised. We know change is possible.”

He said a Yes vote will ensure First Nations people are recognised, “bringing a level of fairness and equality that has not been seen in Australia before”.

“The Voice to Parliament stems from decades of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander activism.

“It’s a much needed reform to ensure Aboriginal people have a say in the issues that affect us.”

‘I’ve had to vote yes, twice’

Equality Australia has unveiled a striking piece of artwork (below) acknowledging ties between the First Nations and LGBTIQ+ communities.

It was painted by artist Wayde Clark, known as Alejandro Lauren, a Wiradjuri and Birpai man and member of the LGBTIQ+ community.

“I wanted to bring Australia and everyone’s journey into the artwork, into all the different colours, just to make it inclusive because a world that has inclusivity is a world that I want to live in,” the artist said.

“I’ve had to vote yes, twice. I’ve had to vote Yes for marriage equality… and now I’m having to vote Yes to have a voice here in Australia and to have my people a part of the constitution.”

‘Yes’ and ‘no’ camps argue for and against Voice

The Albanese government has not yet set the actual date for the Voice to Parliament referendum, though it will be between October and December.

The question is, “A Proposed Law: to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. Do you approve this proposed alteration?”

Two weeks ago, the Australian Electoral Commission published the official Yes and No documents online.

A pamphlet containing both cases, developed by parliamentarians from both camps, will arrive in voters’ mailboxes closer to the vote.

In it, the No campaign argues the Voice to Parliament proposal is “legally risky with unknown consequences”. The Yes campaign argues there is “nothing to fear” from listening to the advice of the advisory body.

Prominent groups Yes23 and Fair Australia are the biggest spenders in online ads for and against the constitutional change.

Mardi Gras backs Voice to Parliament

On Wednesday, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras was among the 22 LGBTQIA+ organisations to support the yes vote.

“The Voice to Parliament aligns with Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras’ core values of diversity, inclusion, and empowerment,” spokesperson Gil Beckwith said.

“We stand for giving a platform to underrepresented voices, and supporting the Voice to Parliament is a crucial and natural extension of our commitment to celebrate all facets of our community.”

On Wednesday, Equality Australia confirmed the following LGBTQIA+ businesses and groups are advocating for Yes:

Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International (ABBI)
Bisexual Alliance Victoria
Blaq Aboriginal Corporation
Dowson Turco Lawyers
Just.Equal Australia
Health Equity Matters
Equality Australia
Equality Project
Equality Tasmania
Living Proud WA
Minus 18
PFLAG Tasmania
Pride Cup
Pride Foundation Australia
Rainbow Crows
Rainbow Families
South Australian Rainbow Advocacy Alliance
Stonewall Medical Centre
Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras
Thorne Harbour Health
Transgender Victoria
Victorian Pride Lobby

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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