2nd Anniversary of Election of O’Farrell Government

So, last week I wrote a column on behalf of the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) for the Star Observer, looking at the 2 year anniversary of the election of the O’Farrell Liberal-National Government in NSW. It has been published today, and can be found at the following link: http://www.starobserver.com.au/opinion/2013/04/03/speaking-out-6/101597 . I will publish the full text of the article here next week (ie after the current edition).

Basically, NSW has not gone backwards on LGBTI law reform over the past 2 years, unlike our neighbours North of the Tweed under Premier Campbell Newman (who continues to wage war against the rights of and services for the Queensland LGBTI community). It is unclear which model the likely incoming Prime Minister Tony Abbott will follow (although one has to suspect he will be more like Newman than O’Farrell).

But just because O’Farrell and his Government have not gone backwards doesn’t mean there has been any great progress either. The next 12 months will be key, in particular seeing whether he and his Government support state-based marriage equality, abolish the homosexual advance or gay panic defence and continue, and hopefully expand, the Proud Schools program.

Full text:

As always, there has been a lot going on over the past month, including the community’s response to police (mis)conduct during the Mardi Gras Festival, as well as the Legislative Council’s hearings into State-based marriage equality laws.

One event which almost went unnoticed was the 2nd anniversary of the election of the O’Farrell Government, which happened last week. This officially marked the halfway point of this term of Parliament.

Many people in the LGBTI community probably greeted the election of a Liberal/National Government back in March 2011 with a degree of trepidation, not knowing exactly what to expect on gay and lesbian issues. The good news is that there have not been any major backwards steps on gay and lesbian law reform in NSW.

In fact, there have been some small wins, with the continuation of the Proud Schools pilot, and the passage of a symbolic motion in favour of marriage equality by the Legislative Council in mid-2012. However, there have been no major advances on gay and lesbian rights under the O’Farrell Government so far either.

As the Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby, we believe that over the next 12 months it is time for the Liberal/National Government, and the Parliament more broadly, to demonstrate its commitment to treating the LGBTI people of NSW equally.

There are three major legislative and policy issues which are already on the agenda for the coming year. The first is the Upper House Inquiry into the partial defence of provocation, which is due to report by 2 May. We will be looking for the O’Farrell Government to abolish the homosexual advance or ‘gay panic’ defence, because non-violent sexual advances should never be a justification to downgrade a murder conviction to manslaughter.

The second issue is the State-based marriage equality Bill, which should be voted on later in 2013. The GLRL wants parliamentarians of all political persuasions to support the legal recognition of the equality of same-sex relationships.

The third issue which is already on the agenda is a decision on the long-term future of Proud Schools. At the Lobby, we believe that all LGBTI students deserve to have an education free from bullying, prejudice and discrimination. Consequently, we want to see Proud Schools continued and indeed expanded across NSW.

This is obviously not an exhaustive list, and the Lobby will be campaigning on other issues, including removing religious exceptions in anti-discrimination law and calling for a review of the criminalisation of commercial surrogacy arrangements, during the ‘second half’ of this term.

But, by acting on the three issues identified above, the O’Farrell Government, and the NSW Parliament generally, would demonstrate that they genuinely believe LGBTI people should be treated equally. Time will tell.

OFarrell hand

Premier O’Farrell – We won’t let you put these issues to one side this year…

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3 thoughts on “2nd Anniversary of Election of O’Farrell Government

  1. Hi Alistair Lawrie,
    So the thing that intrigues me regarding the proposed amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act and the refusal by the government to consider the removal of the exemptions for church-based service providers (particularly in relation to LGBTI aged care) is the power being wielded by someone, somewhere….who actually makes the final decision not to proceed? Why is religion still playing such a prominent role in social policy?

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  2. Hi Sara,
    Not sure this is the article you wanted to leave that comment on, but I will reply here nonetheless.
    The short answer to your question is, I wish I knew (because then we could directly counter that pervasive influence and secure anti-discrimination reforms which protect the LGBTI community irrespective of whether a service is provided by religious organisations).
    The longer answer would involve a combination of:
    -the ongoing Christian influence in the Liberal and National parties (esp with Tony Abbott as Leader, but also with others who see no problem in intermingling between church and state)
    -on the other side, the nefarious influence of the SDA union (and particularly its homophobic leader Joe De Bruyn) within the ALP, which uses its size to help block reforms which it sees as going too far
    -the failure of previous constitutional challenges to the intrusion of religion into basic services (eg the High Court’s rejection of the DOGS case about the funding of religious schools, and the upholding of the validity of Chaplaincy in schools)
    -and the lack of interest from a section of the population who, while not being religious themselves, are unconcerned about the intrusion of religion into basic services (either because they are unaware or don’t care about the possible impacts on LGBTI people, single women etc).
    I am sure that there are many other reasons as well – and am sure you would have some of your own.
    thanks,
    Alastair

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    • Sorry Alastair I am a blog “virgin” hence my mix up with where to leave my comment! Sorry for any confusion and thanks for your insightful and thought-provoking response.
      Sara

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