Louise Pratt: Fighting Where it Matters

Louise PrattA queer politician that has been fighting long term for LGBTIQ rights in federal parliament is contemplating life after politics.  Senator Louise Pratt has recently been moved to the second position on the senate ticket; she now stands behind Joe Bullock, a conservative Labor candidate who stands against the battle for equal marriage rights.

Addressing marriage equality supporters at Equal Love’s recent marriage equality rally, the Senator unexpectedly received bursts of anger from the crowd during her speech.

“I think its stems from the frustration of the community but I just hope the community understands that I will always be in there batting for their interests with these issues, that’s why I’m a member of the Labor Party”, explained Senator Pratt.

The Senator’s career so far has had its battles, encounters with homophobia and media attention on her relationship with trans* partner Aram Hosie have taken attention away from her role as a politician, as well as slowing down milestones she’s made for LGBT Australians on the journey for equality.

“It’s not like we personally enjoy that kind of publicity”, she said in response to media coverage on her relationship.

“But we also had such wonderful responses from trans* people in the community and their families, we know visibility is really helpful to other people and so we’ve made a decision to do that, we could have been more private about that but we made that decision”.

The recent change in stance of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd who now supports marriage equality comes as a highlight for Pratt, who has been lobbying Rudd to change his stance for years. The Senator discussed members of the queer community feeling Rudd has left it all a bit too late.

“I understand why they’re frustrated, but it’s not how we will win this issue in the long term, you have to take each win, and bank it, so in a sense that kind of negative criticism isn’t the kind of campaigning sentiment that helps us make progress on these issues”.

Switching to discussions about Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s lack of support, Senator Pratt emphasised that Gillard’s stance shouldn’t be the primary point of blame for a lack of legislative change.

“One of the things that are misunderstood about this issue currently is the idea that if Julia Gillard was in favour it would have been delivered by now. The fact of the matter is we’re a minority government and we simply don’t have the numbers until members of the coalition come over in favour of this”.

Ideals that include fighting for equality, a sense of community and unionism stay as Senator Pratt’s focus in the lead up the federal election. A question about whether she’s considered life after politics or in opposition evoked a pretty simple response.

“Yes, of course I do. I think the important thing is personally for me is to keep on fighting for the values that I believe in, to bring those to the parliament and to connect those to the community and community campaigns and to the Australian public more broadly. I will remain committed to doing that for community interests, whatever happens”.

For someone that has been fighting for LGBTIQ rights before some of us had even come out, it’s worth learning just what Senator Pratt has accomplished for the queer community during her time in office. Pratt’s advocacy stems before her time in parliament, however a pinnacle moment for her activism presents itself in the form of the Acts Amendment (Lesbian and Gay Law Reform) Act 2002.

Aside from all of these things which have improved the rights of LGBTI Australia, the Senator has worked towards far lesser known goals during her time in parliament.

”One of the frustrations I have is I’m most certainly not a one issue member of parliament, I’d had strong motivations to be involved in politics, feminism and environmental politics and unionism a long time before I even figured out myself that I was queer”.

“Some of the work I find really inspiring at the moment is my work with indigenous communities in the Kimberley and really looking at cultural economies and the future of those communities so they’ve got an economic and social base”.

So what’s next for the Senator? It seems all immediate focus is on the looming election, five years from now evokes a list of accomplished goals and dreams.

“I would hope we would have achieved things like marriage equality before then, I would hope that WA doesn’t have any uranium mines by then, I would hope as a nation we’ve made progress like the constitutional recognition of indigenous people”, she said.

“Personally in five years time I would like to think I’m still in a strong relationship with Aram and that’s going really well for us”.

 Nadine Walker

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