The Good, the Bad & the Ugly from ALP National Conference 2015

Last month, a News Corp newspaper published an opinion piece that included the following:

 

“The personal lives and struggles of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, for example, have been transformed. All discriminatory laws have been repealed (marriage as a heterosexual construct is not discriminatory), historical convictions expunged, parenting rights assured, and discrimination protections are in place. The population as a whole is relaxed and indifferent to gays.

 

“Gay and other sexual orientation people struggle with identity because it is so vexed. It is not society’s hetero-normative orientation that makes it so. Gays have fought for equality for a long time. And, bravo, they have won. No more to be sent to prison for buggery. But living, that is another matter.”

 

In short, a (presumably) cisgender heterosexual opinion writer has declared that, in 2016, homophobic, biphobic, transphobic and intersexphobic discrimination and prejudice no longer exists – oh, and if LGBTI people experience any issues from now on, it’s basically our own fault.

 

To some extent, it doesn’t really matter which particular News Corp publication it was[i], nor the individual author[ii]. At the end of a year filled with relentless attacks on Safe Schools specifically and the LGBTI community generally (which contradict the author’s argument), and ongoing straight-splaining and cis-splaining that we should accept a plebiscite ‘if we knew what was good for us’, the frequent yet baseless criticisms of LGBTI people for having the temerity to stand up for our rights have started to all blur into each other.

 

But I do want to thank this particular author (no, not for the rubbish quoted above) because they went on to note:

 

“Politics is slow to adjust to this reality. Take Labor’s national platform. There are no fewer than 45 substantial references to LGBTI rights such as de-gendering government documents, transgender public toilets, free surgery for sex reassignment, outlawing “cures” for gay people and trashing “non-compliant” religious beliefs…

 

“For example, the party has vowed to “investigate amending the Human Rights Act to establish a commissioner for sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status issues… within the Australian Human Rights Commission…

 

“The commissioner will have some juicy new laws on which to pontificate because the platform states that “homophobic, biphobic, transphobic and intersexphobic harassment by the written or spoken word causes actual harm, not simple mere offence… Labor will consider whether current anti-discrimination law provides effective sanctions.

 

“And it will come as no surprise that Labor “will continue to support national programs to address homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and intersexphobia in schools. This includes ensuring gender-diverse students are able to express the gender they identify with including through preferred name and dress.”

 

It might have taken them more than 16 months, but it seems that particular commentator has finally noticed that the national platform adopted by the Australian Labor Party at its national conference in July 2015 is the most progressive LGBTI policy manifesto from a major party (Labor, Liberal or Nationals) in our country’s history.

 

In doing so, they have prompted me to finally write about my own involvement in contributing to many of these changes, as well as the only partially-successful campaign to adopt a binding vote on marriage equality (#ItsTimeToBind), and the reasons why I am no longer a member of the Party (but more on that later).

 

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The Good

 

First, for those with little or no experience in internal Labor Party politics, a description of what the National Platform is, and a quick explanation of the process involved in determining what is included.

 

The Platform is the Party’s primary policy document, setting out formal positions on a wide range of issues, from health and education, to employment and industrial relations, and other topics like climate change and social inclusion.

 

It is determined every three years or so (with a new one developed during each term of Commonwealth Parliament), with a working group preparing an initial version, which is then open to party member consultation, and finally the draft Platform, as well as proposed amendments, is voted on and adopted by the National Conference (which consists of elected delegates, union representatives and some MPs and party officials).

 

The final platform adopted by the July 2015 National Conference can be found here.

 

As you will see if you take a look through its 239 pages, there is one thing the incredibly generic News Corp opinion writer cited above got right – there are indeed a large number of commitments to address discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex Australians. These positions cover a broad range of policy areas, from health and education, to housing and homelessness, and assisted reproductive technology and rainbow families.

 

And I am proud to say I had a hand in drafting a number of these, as well as contributing to the overall push that ensured a number of others were passed.

 

The first, and perhaps most important, step was setting out a clear LGBTI policy agenda almost 10 months before the Conference itself – in September 2014, by publishing my 15 LGBTI Priorities for ALP National Conference 2015. Circulating that list so far in advance not only allowed others to ‘buy-in’ to various elements, it also served as a regular reminder in the lead-up to Conference of what was important (and not to be distracted by other issues).

 

I also wrote a comprehensive (14 page) submission as part of the pre-consultation process in May 2015 (see: An LGBTI Agenda – Submission on Draft ALP National Platform 2015). Happily, a couple of recommendations from that submission were included in the draft Platform presented to Conference – and are contained in the final National Platform, including:

 

  • Amending a commitment to reduce the rate of youth suicide in rural communities to specifically include ‘young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people’[iii], and

 

  • Something I am particularly proud of, an entirely new commitment that “Labor acknowledges the young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are at significantly higher risk of homelessness, and commits to support dedicated services aimed at addressing this issue.”[iv]

 

Then, in the lead-up to National Conference, the draft Platform was released, and I had to redraft the remaining recommendations from my submission as specific amendments so that they could be moved at Conference. I also consulted with key trans[v] and intersex[vi] advocates to ensure their issues were being addressed.

 

On the weekend of 4 and 5 July 2015[vii], I attended the National Left Conference in Sydney, bringing with me multiple hardcopies of these amendments which were then able to be adopted by the working groups looking at different Chapters of the Platform. I should note that at this point, there were no formal amendments or motions from Rainbow Labor (either nationally or in NSW), so it was in effect my own personal LGBTI agenda that was being put forward.

 

In the three weeks between the National Left Conference and the National Conference (which was held in Melbourne from Friday 24 to Sunday 26 July), and given I was not a conference delegate myself, I then organised for Nick Thompson – an excellent Rainbow Labor activist from Queensland – to move, and Michael Butterworth – a friend and former colleague from when we both worked for Senator John Faulkner – to second these amendments.

 

At that point my involvement largely ceased. Many of the amendments were formally adopted by Rainbow Labor as their policy positions for conference. Many were also formal ‘Left’ positions (as a result of the National Left Conference, described earlier). Some were both, increasing their chances of success.

 

The fate of a number of these amendments was ultimately dependent on the hard work of a large number of people, too many in fact to mention them all here, although, in addition to Nick and Michael above, I would like to pay particular tribute to advocates like long-time Victorian LGBTI activist Jamie Gardiner, NSW MLC Penny Sharpe, and then-former-Senator – and now Senator-again – for Western Australia Louise Pratt. This was truly a collective effort by LGBTI people inside the Labor Party.

 

In the end, a large number of LGBTI amendments were passed, helping to make the 2015 ALP National Platform the most LGBTI-inclusive policy manifesto of any ‘party of government’. Several of these were amendments I had drafted, including:

 

  • A commitment that “Labor will continue to support national programs to address homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and intersexphobia in schools”[viii] (yes, the same commitment criticised in the News Corp article above).

 

  • Support for national, inclusive parenting laws: “Labor will seek national agreement on the recognition of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex parents, based on the principle that LGBTI-inclusive couples should be able to access assisted reproductive technology, to adopt, and to enter into domestic surrogacy arrangements, on an equal basis to cisgender heterosexual couples in every Australian State and Territory.”[ix]

 

  • Expansion of inter-country adoption to include LGBTI parents: “Where adoption arrangements already exist between Australia and other countries, Labor will seek to ensure these arrangements are expanded to allow for inter-country adoption by LGBTI parents on an equal basis to cisgender heterosexual couples. Where Australia seeks to enter into new inter-country adoption arrangements, Labor will seek to ensure all new agreements treat LGBTI parents equally.”[x]

 

  • A commitment to “Investigate amending the Australian Human Rights Commission Act to establish a Commissioner for Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status issues, with equivalent powers, responsibilities and funding to Commissioners within the Australian Human Rights Commission”[xi] (also subject to attack in the op-ed discussed at the start of this post).

 

  • A further commitment to consider how to better protect LGBTI Australians against vilification: “Homophobic, biphobic, transphobic and intersexphobic harassment by the written or spoken word causes actual harm, not simple mere offence, to people who have suffered discrimination and prejudice, and causes particular harm to young same-sex attracted, or gender-questioning and intersex people, and considers such harmful harassment is an unacceptable abuse of the responsibilities that come with freedom of speech and must be subject to effective sanctions. Labor will consider whether current anti-discrimination law provides such effective sanctions”[xii] – yet another paragraph to earn the ire of the News Corp columnist cited earlier.

 

  • Finally, ensuring that the human rights of LGBTI people are considered as part of Australia’s foreign aid program.[xiii]

 

There are two motions that I drafted, and which were adopted, that I am especially proud of:

 

  • A commitment to remove out-of-pocket medical expenses for trans people: “Labor acknowledges the right of all Australians, including transgender and gender diverse people, to live their gender identity. For many, this includes accessing specialist health services and for some people can involve gender affirmation surgery. Cost should not be a barrier to accessing these services and/or surgery, and Labor commits to removing, wherever possible, out-of-pocket health expenses for transgender people incurred in relation to their gender identity”[xiv] (another policy that the opinion writer above complained about), and

 

  • Importantly, a declaration that “Labor will not detain, process or resettle lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex refugees or asylum-seekers in countries which have criminal laws against any of these communities as it makes these places unsafe environments for all of them”[xv] – in effect, meaning a Labor Government cannot send LGBTI people seeking asylum to Manus Island, or attempt to resettle them in Papua New Guinea (or Malaysia for that matter).

 

Additional amendments, which I developed in consultation with intersex activists, were also successful, including:

 

  • Commitments to end involuntary and unnecessary medical procedures on intersex children[xvi],

 

  • “Support[ing] national intersex-led organisations to provide support to intersex persons and their families, and advocate on intersex issues”[xvii], and

 

  • Ensuring that the use of sex and gender markers on official documents is proportional, and allowing people with intersex variations to exercise autonomy regarding their own sex/gender markers.[xviii]

 

Overall, that’s 13 different LGBTI commitments[xix] that I drafted (including three developed in consultation with intersex advocates) that were ultimately included in the final ALP National Platform 2015. Not too shabby.

 

And, probably more pleasing than the number is the breadth of topics covered – just as I had hoped in September 2014, this was truly a broad and progressive LGBTI agenda, and hopefully one that will be fully implemented the next time an ALP Government is elected.

 

But perhaps the biggest compliment of all, in terms of my activism in the lead-up to last year’s ALP National Conference, is that about half of the policies that so incensed the opinion writer in last month’s News Corp anti-LGBTI tirade originated from the same computer I am sitting at right now.

 

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The Bad

 

Unfortunately, the 2015 ALP National Conference wasn’t all good news, either generally (for more on that see ‘The Ugly’, below), or for LGBTI rights specifically.

 

As regular readers of this blog would be aware, one of the LGBTI issues that I am most passionate about is marriage equality.

 

And, as someone who had been a member of the Labor Party since mid-2002, even having served as a Ministerial adviser in Canberra from early 2008 to mid-2012[xx], I was similarly passionate about collective action, and the principles of solidarity that underpinned it.

 

Taken together, these factors meant I absolutely believed that, as a fundamental matter of human rights, all ALP Members of Parliament and Senators should be bound to vote for marriage equality.

 

And last year’s National Conference was the best chance for this principle to become a reality, reflected in the Party’s Constitution and Rules.

 

I actually started campaigning for this change more than 12 months beforehand, with a blog post (and then article on samesame.com.au) called Hey Australian Labor, It’s Time to Bind on Marriage Equality in July 2014.

 

This campaign – which I dubbed #ItsTimeToBind – then became the inspiration for a large number of articles, especially from April 2015 onwards, leading right up to the Conference itself (see, for example, What ALP National Conference Delegates Should Hear About Marriage Equality).

 

In essence, I was arguing that not only would a binding vote in favour of marriage equality align with the ALP’s organising philosophy (namely solidarity), it would also help achieve this long overdue reform in Australia.

 

Unfortunately, the 2015 National Conference did not unequivocally endorse this view.

 

It did not adopt a binding vote on marriage equality for the remainder of that parliamentary term (which ended with Malcolm Turnbull’s re-election on July 2 this year).

 

Nor did it adopt a binding vote for the duration of the current term, which is not due to expire until the first half of 2019 (although, given recent events and the threatened ‘split’ by Cory Bernardi, George Christensen and others, an earlier election cannot be ruled out).

 

Instead, as you are probably aware, last year’s meeting of delegates voted to adopt a binding vote in favour of marriage equality only after an additional one and a half terms – or potentially up to four years – had elapsed.[xxi]

 

Frankly, it is a nonsense policy. And it seemed to be adopted for nonsense reasons, having more to do with internal deal-making than with same-sex marriage-celebrating.

 

Of the many, many critiques that could be made of this ‘half-pregnant’ approach to marriage equality, I would particularly like to note the following:

 

  • It is internally inconsistent. The principles of this issue have not, and will not, change between mid-2015 and early 2019. Either marriage equality is something worth fighting for – collectively – or it’s not. There is absolutely no rational reason why it will suddenly become worth binding on after three and a half or four years.

 

  • It imposes an unacceptable delay. The ALP has been playing catch-up on this issue for far too long – only embracing a platform position in favour of marriage equality in December 2011 (after the majority of the population had already expressed their support), and then having a conscience vote on it for another seven years plus. Ultimately, it will be an almost 15 years delay from the ALP adopting the worst possible policy (binding its MPs and Senators to oppose equality in August 2004, and for the following seven and a half years), to finally arriving at the correct one. Too many Australians have been denied the recognition of their human rights because of this tardiness.

 

  • It represents a failure of ‘the Left’. The factions and sub-factions that make up the Left of the Labor Party actually had the numbers on most policy issues at last year’s Conference, for the first time in a generation (or more). And yet that numerical superiority did not translate into the adoption of what would have actually been a moderate left-wing position – amending the rules to bind parliamentarians to vote for marriage equality, either in the remainder of the 2013-2016 term or, at the least, from the time of the subsequent federal election. This failure means that there must have been some ‘comrades’ there who didn’t consider LGBTI Australians to be their

 

On this final point, a special ‘dishonourable’ mention must go to the Member for Grayndler, Anthony Albanese, who, despite being notionally left-wing, repeatedly argued against binding for LGBTI rights. And he did so at several key points:

 

  • In late May, after the successful referendum on marriage equality in Ireland, and with momentum building for a binding vote within the Labor Party here, he opted to make a speech against solidarity on this issue in the House of Representatives[xxii];

 

  • At the National Left Conference in early July (mentioned above), ‘Albo’ was the only speaker who opposed a binding vote; and

 

  • Most importantly – and most unforgivably – on the morning of the last day of National Conference itself, Mr Albanese went on national television, not just to make the case for a continued conscience vote, but also to suggest that uniting to recognise the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people was somehow ‘intolerant’.

 

The full transcript of that now infamous appearance on Insiders reveals his complete absence of understanding of this issue:

 

BARRIE CASSIDY: Now on gay marriage, it seems what the position the left wants is a conscience vote this side of the election and a binding vote after that. Do you support that idea?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well I support a conscience vote on these issues. I do so as a matter of principle as well as …

BARRIE CASSIDY: But not a binding vote beyond the election, so you’ll split with your own faction on this one?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well I support a conscience vote on these issues. I am a strong supporter of marriage equality. I’m the first member of Parliament in the House of Representatives to bring a private member’s bill about equal rights for same-sex couples. I did that in my first term, back at the last century. And I’m of the view though that you can have that strong position, but be respectful towards people who because of their faith, have a different point of view. We need – part of what enriches our society is its diversity. That’s part of what equal rights for people who are same-sex couples is about. Now, you can’t call for tolerance and respect for diversity, in my view, whilst being intolerant. Now, I believe very strongly that it should be a conscience vote, that there should be a private member’s bill put before the Parliament this year and we should debate it, and then, of course, I think we’ll move on and people will wonder what the fuss was about. People should be allowed – people love who they love and we should respect that and it will, in my view, strengthen the institution of marriage where more people are able to participate in it [emphasis added].

 

No, Mr Albanese, requiring members of a supposedly progressive political party to vote in favour of recognising the right of all couples to marry under secular law, irrespective of their sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status, is not intolerant or disrespectful.

 

Those who do not believe in equality, for whatever reason (and let’s both admit that, for many, it is a religious one) can choose not to celebrate it in their personal lives – but that does not give them an inalienable right to deny the ability to marry to others.

 

While you may have been a leader on same-sex rights ‘back at the last century’ (your words), in the current century you have held back progress on this important reform (my words). What you did last year won’t be forgotten, and can’t be forgiven either.

 

Anthony Albanese

Anthony Albanese, who opposed solidarity for LGBTI Australians at the 2015 ALP National Conference.

 

Of course, the folly of the approach adopted not just by Mr Albanese, but by anyone inside the ALP who thought that retaining a conscience vote would convince the Liberals to adopt their own, was revealed just three weeks later.

 

On 11 August 2015, then-Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and the Coalition Party-room, did what they do best, finding a novel way to screw over LGBTI Australians, by proposing to hold a plebiscite – a mechanism that hadn’t been used to resolve a substantive matter of public policy in almost a century (and which the LGBTI community had to spend the following 15 months defeating).

 

Where did that leave the Labor Party? Hamstrung by a compromise, and compromised, policy which meant it could not fully exploit the pettiness, and downright stupidity, of Abbott, and later Turnbull’s, plebiscite – after all, how much easier would it have been to campaign in the lead-up to the 2016 election to say ‘We will pass marriage equality’ rather than the more convoluted “We will attempt to introduce marriage equality, but even if we are elected whether or not marriage equality passes will depend on the size of any majority, the final makeup of the ALP caucus that is chosen, and potentially even on whether Liberal and/or National MPs are prepared to cross the floor’.[xxiii][xxiv]

 

But, leaving such capital ‘P’ political considerations aside, there remains the underlying principle, and principal flaw, of this issue – namely, it is utterly indefensible that, given all of the issues that Labor binds its parliamentarians about (see One of these things is not (treated) like the others), the Party still refuses to compel them to vote for the equal treatment of equal love.

 

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The Ugly

 

This comparison – between the fact the Labor Party does not bind its MPs and Senators to vote in favour of marriage equality, but does bind them on all manner of other issues, including those that are far more complex and in many cases ethically challenging – is perhaps best made with what was unquestionably the worst policy outcome from the 2015 Conference (at least from a progressive standpoint): the ALP’s position on refugees and people seeking asylum.

 

In short, not only did National Conference fail to overturn the parliamentary Party’s support for the offshore processing and resettlement of refugees[xxv], it also did not support an amendment that would have ruled out future support for ‘boat turn-backs’ (effectively allowing Opposition Leader Shorten to endorse the Abbott/Turnbull Government’s increasingly abhorrent practices in this area).

 

As with the vote on marriage equality, there had been some hope of a different outcome. After all, the position adopted by the previous ALP National Conference, in December 2011, on these issues was not terrible[xxvi].

 

Instead, it was the actions of Prime Minister Julia Gillard – who restarted offshore processing in mid-2012 – and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd – who agreed to the permanent resettlement of refugees in Papua New Guinea in his brief second stint as Leader in mid-2013 – that were repugnant.

 

Consequently, the 2015 National Conference was an opportunity for delegates, including those chosen by ordinary members and the union movement, to democratically overturn the Caucus’ position. And, if ‘Left’ delegates had united to oppose boat turn-backs, and to overturn offshore processing and resettlement, then either or even both of these policies could have been consigned to history.

 

But they did not seize that historic opportunity. What is left is a policy that dehumanises people who are simply seeking our help in the hope of a better life.

 

It was this particular failure, on refugee policy, that was the final straw for me in terms of my ongoing membership of the Party.

 

The awfulness of this approach – moving people seeking asylum to other countries, where they are detained, often indefinitely, in inhumane conditions, without the prospect of resettlement in countries that can effectively look after them, and, worst of all, without hope – was simply overwhelming.

 

And, yes, the fact the Party expects all of its parliamentarians to vote in favour of this position, and yet still cannot bind them to vote in favour of Steve and my wedding (with our engagement now reaching almost seven years), was an added sting in the tail.

 

So, when NSW Labor Party membership renewal notices were circulated in October 2015, I could not find a compelling reason to complete and submit mine. Meaning that, for the first time since university, I am no longer a member of a political party.

 

I should add that I do not judge others who remain inside the Party, having reached a different conclusion. There are many fine people who oppose the unjust policy on refugees and people seeking asylum, and who have chosen to stay and fight, in the hope that they can affect positive change on this issue at the next National Conference in 2017 or 2018. I applaud their dedication to the cause, and their ability to march on.

 

But, on a personal level, after the battles that were fought, and in at least two key cases lost, at the 2015 National Conference, that war will be fought without this particular ‘soldier’. I can’t see that situation changing any time soon.

 

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Footnotes:

[i] The Australian, “Brave new post-identity world of no more excuses”, Wednesday 30 November 2016.

[ii] Gary Johns

[iii] Final dot point of paragraph 68 on pages 107-108.

[iv] Paragraph 133 on page 130. And that pride survives the unfortunate typo (‘the’ instead of ‘that’), which itself survived from my original submission. Although I guess that’s one way of demonstrating that this commitment was included as a result of my submission.

[v] Including Sally Goldner from Transgender Victoria.

[vi] Especially Morgan Carpenter from OII Australia.

[vii] As an aside, attending this Conference meant missing out on travelling to Queensland to celebrate my dad’s 70th birthday. It was a tough decision but, in the absence of anyone taking ownership of the LGBTI agenda at this conference, I acutely felt the need to be the person to step forward on this particular occasion. I also made this decision because I have learned, over many years (and now decades) of campaigning, that it is the people who show up who actually make things change. Oh, and in case you were feeling sympathy, my father, who himself was a former political candidate, understood my decision.

[viii] Included in paragraph 46 on page 90.

[ix] Paragraph 177 on page 137.

[x] Paragraph 178 on page 137.

[xi] A new dot point in paragraph 71 on page 162 – although this was slightly watered down from the original amendment: “Labor will amend the Sex Discrimination Act to establish a stand-alone Commissioner for Sexual Orientation, Gender identity and Intersex Status issues, with equivalent powers, responsibilities and funding to the Sex Discrimination Commissioner.”

[xii] Paragraph 103 on page 165 – although the last paragraph is actually less decisive than the amendment as originally drafted: “Labor will introduce anti-vilification protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex Australians, which are based on and equivalent to existing racial vilification protections in the Racial Discrimination Act.”

[xiii] By amending paragraph 60 on pages 173-174 to read: “Labor’s overseas aid efforts will promote human rights while addressing development challenges. All people should be able to lead healthy and prosperous lives with shelter, education, food and clean water, health and sanitation, and emergency services support – regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion, cultural belief, sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status.”

[xiv] Paragraph 73 on page 109.

[xv] Paragraph 249 on page 145.

[xvi] With the addition of the following three dot points to paragraph 72 on page 109:

  • “Ensure the deferral of non-necessary medical intervention on infants and children with intersex variations until such times as the person concerned can give informed consent
  • Prohibit modifications to sex characteristics undertaken for social rationales, without informed consent
  • Ensure that intersex persons’ right not to undergo sex assignment treatment is respected.”

[xvii] A new dot point in paragraph 69 on page 163 – although disappointingly the original version of this amendment started with ‘fund’ (which was amended to ‘support’ instead) but it is a positive development nonetheless.

[xviii] New dot points in paragraph 69 on page 163.

[xix] There are two additional amendments that were built on/modified by Rainbow Labor activists in Melbourne:

  • My suggested amendment that “Labor acknowledges that the curriculum development process has produced a National Health & Physical Education (HPE) Curriculum that excludes content that is vital to meet the needs of LGBTI students and young people. Labor commits to reviewing the HPE curriculum and producing a new HPE curriculum, that genuinely includes LGBTI students and content, and incorporates LGBTI-inclusive sexual health education” was incorporated as part of a successful resolution related to Chapter 7: “Labor believes all students – including LGBTI students – deserve to benefit from health and physical education programs that support their physical and emotional wellbeing, and development. Labor commits to commission a review to ensure the curriculum genuinely meets the needs of LGBTI students and equips all students with age-appropriate information to learn about:
    • Respectful relationships
    • Concepts of consent
    • LGBTI-inclusive sexual health education and
    • Respectful and positive portrayal of sexuality across media forms.”
  • My proposed amendment about the non-refoulement of LGBTI people seeking asylum (“Labor will not return lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex refugees or asylum-seekers to countries which have criminal laws against any of these communities as it makes these places unsafe environments for all of them”) was superseded by the following amendment included at paragraph 267 on page 147 in the Platform:
    • “In assessing asylum claims where the fear of persecution arises from a person’s LGBTI status, the fact that the country the person is fleeing has criminal penalties for engaging in consensual homosexual sex is sufficient of itself to establish that fear of persecution is well-founded, and any assessment of the asylum seeker’s identity and fear must take account of the very different manifestations of LGBTI identity that other cultures, especially ones profoundly hostile to LGBTI people, necessarily engender.”

[xx] First for Senator the Hon John Faulkner, and later for Senator the Hon Joseph Ludwig.

[xxi] The full wording:

Same sex marriage

  1. Conference resolves that the matter of same sex marriage can be freely debated at any state or federal forum of the Australian Labor Party, but any decision reached is not binding on any member of the Party. This resolution is rescinded upon the commencement of the 46th parliament.”

[xxii] See What Tony Burke Gets Rights, and What Anthony Albanese Gets Wrong, About Marriage Equality.

[xxiii] Needless to say, the Greens’ ‘Every vote, every time’ slogan also leaves the ALP’s current marriage equality position for dust.

[xxiv] At least the messaging at the 2019 election will be much easier – when the Labor Party can finally campaign on the promise that, if elected, it will introduce marriage equality.

[xxv] Given the decriminalization of male homosexuality in Nauru earlier this year, and remembering the motion discussed earlier that Labor will not detain, process or resettle people seeking asylum in countries that criminalise LGBTI communities, this means that a re-elected Labor Government could not send LGBTI people seeking asylum to Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, but they could send them to Nauru instead.

[xxvi] Although it was not terribly consistent either, and could be interpreted in multiple ways.

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