Adjournment- LGBTI Equality

7 Feb 2018

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My adjournment matter is for the Premier, and the action I seek is that the Premier protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex Victorians from discrimination.

It was terrific to attend the first Midsumma Festival since marriage equality became a reality, including Carnival Day and the Pride March with the Queer Greens and Senator Janet Rice, and Pride Shabbat at Temple Beth Israel in the Prahran electorate. But there is still unfinished business when it comes to LGBTI equality in Victoria. We still have in this state exemptions in anti-discrimination laws that allow faith-based organisations to discriminate against LGBTI workers, students and service users on the basis of their sexuality and gender identity.

Now it is one thing to say Victoria is the most progressive state, but just across in Tasmania you will find that they do not have these discriminatory laws in place and you will see that Victoria is still behind some states when it comes to LGBTI equality. Whilst I am sure many, if not most, faith-based schools and services are welcoming and inclusive of LGBTI people, these laws are insidious. We have had recent reports of a teacher being fired for being gay in Western Australia where they have similar laws. We have got examples of LGBTI young people who have been kicked out of home not going to a faith-based homelessness service for fear of experiencing the same discrimination that they did at home.

A local constituent of mine told me that they do not apply for jobs at non-government schools because they may be faced with discrimination. We have got reports of teachers and workers having to hide their sexuality lest they be fired. We had threats by a Catholic archbishop during the marriage equality debate to fire teachers, nurses and other employees who marry their same-sex partners.

Of course change is not easy. The Greens introduced a private members bill in the upper house to protect LGBTI students, but unfortunately the government and the opposition voted that down. We have moved amendments in this place that the government refused to bring on for debate. We have only had two bills in this Parliament that were knocked off in the upper house by the Liberals and conservative minor parties, and they both were in relation to LGBTI equality. But if the Premier wants to make good on his ‘equality is not negotiable’ slogan, on his promise that every bit of bigotry will be removed from the Victorian statute book, then he needs to act this year to protect LGBTI workers, students and service users from discrimination.

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