Why the election has unlocked the door to real LGBTIQA+ change

LGBTIQA+ Australians rodney croome parliament federal election labor coalition catholic religious freedom reform gay lesbian transgender

Scott Morrison’s Religious Licence-to-Discriminate Bill has gone. The politics of anti-trans prejudice has been repudiated with the landslide federal election defeat of Katherine Deves. Eric Abetz has been knocked out of the Senate by a supporter of the LGBTIQA+ community.

Is this the end of the resurgent prejudice that arose as a backlash to marriage equality and has plagued LGBTIQA+ Australians for seven years?

Is Australia about to fulfil the promise of the marriage Yes vote, the promise of full equality and inclusion for LGBTIQA+ people?

The answer to that is entirely in our hands.

We must entice Labor out of its shell

Labor was elected with as few LGBTIQA+ election commitments as it could get away with.

It (wrongly) believes this was necessary to keep electorates in Western Sydney, which, this election, it did keep.

In a way, Labor is still stuck in the postal survey, making itself as small a target as possible to avoid culture-war flak.

There will be loud voices in the ALP counselling that playing a small target won them government (it didn’t) and will keep it for them (it won’t).

There will be other voices wanting a return to Labor’s old unspoken doctrine of one gay reform per term, a doctrine the LGBTIQA+ community must make clear we no longer accept.

Our job is to entice Labor out of its shell by demonstrating two key facts about the election:

First, in those electorates that catapulted it into government, religious freedom, trans equality and school inclusion (the three main battlegrounds of resurgent prejudice) don’t decide election outcomes.

Second, in the wake of Labor voting for the Religious Discrimination Bill, and the Greens being the only party with a comprehensive LGBTIQA+ policy, LGBTIQA+ voters deserted Labor in city electorates including those that fell to the Greens and Teals.

Another lever we can pull is that Labor will have to negotiate with Greens and progressive independents to get legislation through the Senate.

We must use this strategically and boldly to ensure outstanding inequalities are addressed.

What we want from the new parliament

Just.Equal will take our recent survey of the LGBTIQA+ community’s election priorities as a blueprint for what the new Parliament should achieve.

It found the following issues are top priorities for our community:

  • removing exemptions allowing faith-based organisations to discriminate against LGBTIQA+ staff, students and clients
  • improving LGBTIQA+ school safety and inclusion
  • establishing LGBTIQA+ policy groups in relevant government agencies
  • a national LGBTIQA+ mental health strategy
  • LGBTIQA+ inclusion in the Census
  • removal of the gay, bi and trans blood ban
  • constitutionally guaranteed human rights

For trans folk, the top priority is Medicare funding for gender transition. For intersex Australians, it is a legislative prohibition on non-consenting medical interventions. The top priority for bisexual respondents is a national public education campaign, and for asexual and aromantic respondents, inclusive sex education in schools.

But making progress won’t be easy. The Coalition has been reduced to an anti-LGBTIQA+ rump with many moderates gone.

The danger is that it will harass LGBTIQA+ people from opposition in a way that is nastier, crueller, more outlandish and more American than ever.

The received wisdom is that this would put the Coalition permanently out of favour with voters.

But the same is said every time the Coalition moves to the right. It still finds ways to be both a destructive force in opposition and to be re-elected to government.

We must continue to work constructively with moderates to move the Coalition back to the centre on LGBTIQA+ equality.

Labor’s Catholic right will oppose reform

The Labor Catholic right is also riding the wave of resurgent prejudice and continues to wield power beyond its numbers.

You can hear its influence in Anthony Albanese’s frequent references to Australia being a land of opportunity regardless of “who you worship or who you love”. Worship always comes first.

Labor’s Catholic right will push against LGBTIQA+ law reform.

For example, Labor is committed to protecting LGBTIQA+ students from discrimination by faith-based schools, but it is ambiguous about teachers.

The Catholic right will ruthlessly exploit this ambiguity to ensure protections are as weak as possible.

However, the LGBTIQA+ community and its allies can overcome these hurdles.

But only if we put aside the despair many of us, including Yours Truly, have felt over the last few years.

We can only make progress if we keep hope alive and have faith in our capacity as a community to make real change.

We must rekindle the belief in ourselves and in the possibility of change that we felt when marriage equality passed.

Australia’s ‘profound transformation’

We also need to remind ourselves of the great changes we have wrought. Here’s one example of a recent reminder of this:

After my mother and I voted on election day in Devonport, we went to a café. She told me about a recent gathering of her elderly Devonport friends where one used the word “poofter”.

She said the other women went silent, then, one by one they spoke up against what they’d heard.

I asked my mother how she felt. She said, “That word just sounded so archaic.”

What a profound transformation that is from just ten years ago. Back then, “poofter” was prolific and too often went unchallenged, especially in regional Australia.

Together we made that happen.

The same transformation is possible on trans recognition, intersex surgeries, our inclusion on the Census, blood donation and all the other outstanding inequities we face.

The election has unlocked the door to all these reforms. It’s now up to us to throw open that door and walk proudly through it.

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.

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  1. Helen Barton
    28 May 2022

    Were those the top priorities? I distinctly remember trans gender affirming procedures being included fully under Medicare. Together with including trans and gender diverse people being covered under the Fair Work Act and also a ban on the non-consensual surgery on intersex infants and minors for non medical reasons. It seems the T and I are being pushed into taking a back seat for the LGB’s benefit AGAIN!!!

  2. Rodney Croome
    28 May 2022

    I apologise. They were top priorities. I’m not sure why they’re not in the article. I’ll make sure they are.

  3. ST
    30 May 2022

    As a Transgender Female I would love to live in this great country with full equal rights, protections and freedoms.

    Can we focus on the ‘T’ and ‘I’ for a while to have rights to live please.
    We need it, life is very hard, change for the better needs to be NOW!
    Transgender people need special protections designed for us.
    Transgender people are singled out.
    Transgender people need protection under the law that is protecting us from feminists that hate trans women, they openly hate us and do as much damage to us.
    This has to be addressed! NOW!

    In the LGBTIQA community it always seems the LGB takes priority, can Trans and Intersex people please be focused on for good change?
    Can the LGB community support us & allow us to have a voice to live in freedom, without fear, with privacy and be able to live without the very real, very harsh, very hard to live with discrimination.
    We can’t just go about our lives peacefully as we are continually, repeatedly and openly hated, called out, picked on by many, we can’t just hide.
    We need Better protections, protections for Transgender persons, especially from State and federal government agencies, where there employees will have an issue with you, it’s against their beliefs or against the individuals personal opinions and this is where we are greatly disadvantaged, they are in positions of decision making and power that cause much harm, struggles and destructions in our lives.
    Let’s not just debate that feminists will not like us, let’s just pass protections from the harm they do, the harm they can & will continue to do.
    This is realty for us, can we have a better reality?

    Let’s start with making it fairer and safer for Transgender people to be able to interact with all government agencies.
    We need ‘specially appointed staff’ that really are transgender friendly to assist us and ensure that we are not discriminated against- to have a fair chance at living and staying alive.
    People that hate us, it does hurt, there are so many against us and we lose hope.
    Why is the transgender self-harm and suicide rates not acknowledged and something done about it?
    The trans statistics are lost in the LGB rates/stats.
    I am over $20,000 in debt for my surgery I had last year, I literally can’t afford the doctors and medications much longer, I love me and want to live as the girl I am without fear, without been broke and in debt, been LGB doesn’t cost anything, been transgender is not only hard it also costs so much that the future is frightening in many ways, today is hard, without real change and protections transgender people will struggle to survive, let’s start to address the Transgender unemployment, homelessness and discrimination that keeps us there, that stops us from been integrated and accepted in society.
    I struggle to see me living long enough to just live in the same world with equality just the same as most others around me, I’m just been honest to how life is & how I feel and I can guarantee that I am not the only one.

    There is a huge divide between the lives of Transgender people and the ‘cis’ people that doesn’t want us in their world.
    Let’s close that gap, we are people to, we deserve to be able to live our lives in freedom without been afraid, without discrimination through hate or ignorance.

    I am afraid to talk with my NDIS planner as she does NOT agree with me having surgery and does NOT accept that I am a female- this is a very real systemic and ingrained problem that transgender people face everyday.
    Yes I have complained but government employees are protected and to be honest all it did was draw attention to my ‘Transness’, so their was a change in a planner been assigned to me now and she is more worse. The problem is that most of the planners are older white women who are feminists that hate us, in April when my plan ran out 5 months early because the previous planner keep reducing my funding as ‘she does not like so called women as yourself’ if it wasn’t for the MP’s office intervening my Plan would have been destroyed again, I ran out of funds 5 months early and all that happened was I got the same plan so they could report back to the MP’s office, then she phoned my coordinator and said very vocally that my having surgery is wrong, then phoned me to say that next time the MP’s office won’t be there and for me to not have the revision surgery. This was her words from her opinions, but she was doing everything she could, through decisions and with her hurtful words to stop my having the revision surgery.
    Darlene is a ‘special planner’ that has been assigned, this means I can’t change planner. I live in fear. Having a spinal injury I fear that when I run out of funds for support early again Darlene is going to make sure I can’t live, it is truly very difficult to live as a transgender female. I don’t see a future.
    I say that to say this; there is more hate and harm towards Transgender people than what is know, to what is been acknowledged, transgender people immediately need help in the ways that will bring true good lasting change, to save our lives.
    Why couldn’t I have just been born right? then I would have had a normal life and not have the hardships that I face everyday. BUT transgender people DO exist, we deserve the right to life in equality!

    I know that living as the female I am who I have always have been, I know that since been able to have the freedom to be myself 4 years ago, and to be complete, it is life, I love me, I am so happy, life within me is perfect, but there are many that make living with quality very hard and want to cause harm in any way, to voice their hate, to action there hate, this is the problem and where are the protections that will allow transgender people to live a long full life prospering ?

    I would love to be myself, expressing myself as who I am without systemic discrimination from these agencies and companies that are a part of everyday life.
    I love my LGB family/community and support equality for them and there rights- but please don’t forget the ‘T’, we need help and allies.
    Trans lives truly do matter.

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