LGBTI outcomes from ALP National Conference

Corey Irlam

Corey Irlam of Australian Coalition for Equality makes his statement to the press. Photograph by Angela Erde.

Media release by Australian Coalition for Equality, Monday 3 August 2009:

The ALP National Conference produced steps forward for the LGBTI* community, despite continued opposition to same-sex marriage, gay activists say.

Australian Coalition for Equality (ACE) spokesperson, Corey Irlam, labelled the outcomes of the conference “a dark cloud with a silver lining.”

“The ALP has recognised the specific health needs of the LGBTI community, the need to act against discrimination, harassment and hatred, and supported equal access to Artificial Reproductive Technologies,” Mr Irlam said.

“Importantly for gay and lesbian youth, the ALP has acknowledged that the right to good education demands a class-room environment free of homophobic bullying and harassment.”

“In a symbolic first, the ALP platform now explicitly recognises the LGBTI community.”

“Despite these advancements the ALP has ignored the 60% majority of Australians who support same-sex marriage by pandering to the prejudices of religious influences.”

“But it is still evidence that we have, and can continue to, make progress towards full equality.”

The Australian Bureau of Statistics identified that of all marriages performed in Australia in 2007 – 62.9% were performed by a civil celebrant and only 37% were performed by a Minister of religion.

In his speech to the ALP conference, Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland, commended the support from religious organisations for the 2008 same-sex law reforms. He pointed to this as what can be achieved when the ALP “brought the community with you.”

“The Attorney-General is correct in identifying that the community needs to support law reform changes. Over the coming months we hope the Attorney-General will explain further why the ALP does not support the majority of Australians view marriage laws should be equal.”

Mr Irlam attended the ALP National Conference as a Community Observer representing ACE.

“It was amazing to see so many rank and file members of the ALP from all factions express their support for LGBTI issues, including same-sex marriage. It’s deeply disappointing that the faceless factional leaders continued to listen to the minority of Australians.”

For more information contact: Corey Irlam on 0401 738 996

*LGBTI stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex.

Extracts of platform

Chapter 7, Paragraph 134-137:

Labor supports the enactment of legislation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation or gender status, and the removal of such discrimination from Commonwealth legislation.

Labor believes that people are entitled to respect, equality, dignity and the opportunity to participate in society free of hatred or harassment and receive the protection of the law regardless of their sexuality or gender identity.

Consistent with this belief, in 2007 Labor audited Commonwealth laws to identify discrimination against same sex couples. In 2008, laws were passed to remove discrimination from 84 pieces of Commonwealth legislation.

Labor will ensure that all couples whether marriage or de facto do not suffer discrimination.

Labor will take action to ensure the development of nationally consistent framework that provides:

  • The opportunity for all couples who have a mutual commitment to a shared life to have their relationship officially recognised.
  • Equal rights for all couples in federal and state laws.

Labor will review relationship recognition arrangements to ensure national consistency.

These reforms are to be implemented consistently with Labor’s commitment to maintaining the definition of marriage as currently set out in the Marriage Act.

Chapter 6, Paragraph 49:

Labor recognises the importance of renewing efforts to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS, STIs and blood-borne viruses, in partnership with the NGO sector.

Labor recognises that special effort is required to address the complex and diverse health needs of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people.

Chapter 6, Paragraph 44:

Fund research into the prevention of infertility and fertility control and ensure that access to assisted reproductive technology programs is not determined by economic circumstances or any other form of discrimination.

Chapter 5, Paragraph 11:

The right to education demands an environment free from bullying and harassment, including racist, sexist or homophobic bullying and harassment.

OII Australia’s commentary

So far, so good! This is the beginning of intersex inclusion in the ALP National Platform, and we note with pleasure that all speakers to the above topics used the term LGBTI for the very first time in national conference.

We very much wish to see the phrases ‘a person’s sexual orientation or gender status’ and ‘of their sexuality or gender identity’ corrected to recognise “intersex status”, “sex characteristics” or “bodily diversity”.

We also wish Chapter 5, Paragraph 11 be expanded thus…

‘The right to education demands an environment free from bullying and harassment, including racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic or intersexphobic bullying and harassment.’

We note that several people who took part in the debate at the ALP National Conference commented that Chapter 6, Paragraph 49 would require those NGOs that have been conspicuous in excluding intersex people from their programs to now include us.