just.equal say Labor’s new national platform is weak on LGBTI policies

LGBTIQ+ community advocates say they are deeply disappointed by Labor’s weak and diminished commitments to LGBTIQ+ equality and inclusion at a national level.

According to just.equal spokesperson Dr Charlie Burton, the latest draft of Labor’s national platform is a watered-down version of the consultation draft, which itself was a gutted version of what Labor took to the last election.

The group highlight that in both drafts Labor dropped its commitment to end coercive intersex surgeries and to reduce out-of-pocket transgender medical costs. It has also dropped all references to HIV for the first time in a generation.

In the latest draft Labor has dropped its explicit commitment to ensuring schools are safe and supportive for all students regardless of sexuality and gender identity. Just-Equal say the party is ignoring recent research showing schools are the least safe place for many young LGBTIQ people.

Dr Burton said Labor needed to be clearer about their position on many issues.

“Anthony Albanese wants Australians to believe that Labor is on their side. But that isn’t the case if you’re a baby born with variations of sex characteristics, a trans person seeking equal access to health care, or an LGBTIQ student at a faith-based school.”

“LGBTIQ people who will suffer increased harassment under the Morrison Government’s proposed Religious Discrimination Bill also don’t know if Labor is on their side because Anthony Albanese refuses to say whether Labor will oppose that Bill.” Dr Burton said.

“While we accept that Labor has slimmed down its national platform, the axe has fallen disproportionately on the LGBTIQ+ community and especially young people, who are desperately in need of our protection and support.”

Dr Burton said, “It’s disappointing and very concerning that Labor’s LGBTIQ+ policy commitments continue to go backwards. In the 2018 platform the term LGBTIQ appeared 46 times, now it appears eight times.”

“Labor’s 2019 election loss was not the fault of LGBTIQ+ people, but we seem to be ones being punished for it.”

“Labor was keen to walk down the aisle with us on marriage equality in 2017, but now it looks like it wants a divorce.”

The removal of may LGBTI specific policies however does follow what Labor leader Anthony Albanese told OUTinPerth when he sat down for a one on one chat in mid-2019. Albanese outlined his plan to reduce the party’s key document from 340 pages to a more consumable 40 pages.

“One of the things I said in the shadow ministry meeting is that at the moment the ALP platform is about 340 pages long. Nobody is reading 340 pages. You’ve got to go online to find it.

It happened after the ’96 election, it happened after the 04 election – it happens every 10 years, people add things in, nothing gets taken out, it gets bigger and bigger.

“All I’ve said is that just like we’ve done before, it’s time to start again to make sure that everything isn’t added on and that we don’t need to repeat things over and over. It’s not about weakening anything, any issues, any policy, any platform.

“In the British Labour Party the platform is published and it is handed out as an election document, it’s a manifesto, it’s what Labour stands for, and it’s about 40-50 pages, and it’s a small A5 booklet. So all I’ve said, which then got misreported, is that we should look at it and look at condensing it. Not weakening it.” Albanese said back in 2019 denying the party was weakening it’s stance on LGBTI rights.

For Dr Burton though the latest version of the platform document has gone too far, and omitted too many issues that are important to LGBTI people. He’s urging party members to reinstate them at the ALP’s online National Conference at the end of March, where delegates have the opportunity to reinsert LGBTIQ+ commitments through amendments.

Dr Burton said, “We urge Conference delegates to use their voices to ensure the ALP’s platform is not silent on key LGBTIQ+ issues, in what is likely an election year.”

One substantive improvement in the latest draft, according to Just-Equal, is that the commitment to banning conversion practices covers conversation practices generally, not just coercion into those practices.

But the group argues more needs to be added, highlighting that there are still no references to explicitly protecting trans, gender diverse and intersex Australians from unfair dismissal in the Fair Work Act, no commitment to an LGBTI human rights commissioner (which Labor was committed to at the last election), and no commitments to LGBTIQ+ anti-vilification protections (despite there being two separate references to religious vilification).

OIP Staff

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