Terry Healy highlights blood donor discrimination in inaugural speech

Western Australian parliament has resumed with a fresh class of politicians taking their seats for the first time.

Inaugural speeches give a politician the opportunity to tell the parliament who they are, what they stand for, who they’re inspired by and a chance to thank all their supporters who helped get them elected.

Last night Terry Healy, the new member for Southern River, delivered his first speech which highlighted how gay men are discriminated against when it comes to blood donations.

Healy also shared how the Safe Schools Coalition had been a positive force in the High School where he was a teacher, and cited an unexpected inspirational teacher who he recalls for inspiration.

The new Labor member replaces the Liberal’s Peter Abetz, who regularly spoke out against marriage equality, gay rights and transgender children.

Healy started his speech acknowledging the support of his wife, newly born daughter and large multi-cultural family before highlighting the community organisations that had helped form the path that lead him to running for parliament.

The new MP said under the new McGowan government there would be many benefits to people in his electorate including new schools being built, improved public transport and no more would families be told that they were not a family.

Healy shared that he held a record in the field of blood donations, and questioned why antiquated rules from the 1980’s still prevented gay men from contributing.

“I’m very proudly an advocate for blood donation, and made my first bleed when I was seventeen” Healy shared.

“As a universal O-neg donor I just started donating every fortnight. Last year making that regular diary appointment made me the youngest person in Australia to have made 300 blood donations.

“There are of course something that need to change with Red Cross and move with the times. We need the Therapeutic Goods Administration to amend the discriminatory practices of its blood donation regulations for gay and bisexual men.

“The regulations are not based on a rational risk assessment but rather on an unfounded 1980’s fear of that there was some kind of inherent link between being gay and having AIDS.” Healy said.

The Suuthern River MLA said we should screen donors but instead of screening them based on the gender of their sexual partner, the focus should be on the potential donors sexual behaviour.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight, if you have activity that puts you at high risk you should be able to donate, if you’re at low risk – you should.”

During his speech Healy also spoke about his long association with the Scouting movement, his time in student politics at Curtin University, his work as a school teacher and union delegate, and his joy at being a marriage celebrant.

Healy was the celebrant who married fellow MLC Stephen Dawson and his partner Dennis Liddlelow in Canberra, when same sex couples were briefly permitted to wed before the High Court overturned the territories laws.

The MP said he hoped the federal government would soon take action on the issue of marriage equality given the the overwhelming level of public support.

“I believe marriage equality is already supported by an overwhelming majority of Australians, we’re all just waiting for the federal parliament to have a free vote on it.

“Those laws will change and Australia will have marriage equality soon.” Healy said noting that he looked forward to officiating Dawson and Liddlelow’s wedding a second time.

Making note of May 17th being IDAHoBiT Day, a day dedicated to stamping out homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, the newly elected MP said he would also stand against discrimination in these areas.

Commenting on the campaign against the Safe Schools Coalition program during the election, which saw his opponents speaking out against the program and thousands of anti-gay flyers being distributed to households in Southern River,┬áHealy said the campaign against the program had been ‘hateful”.

“Safe Schools provides schools and teachers with anti-bullying resources to assist staff to support all students. It’s not a gay lifestyle program, nor are my LGBTIQ students abnormal, as the former member for Southern River said to be at a school board room meeting.”

Healy said he was glad the new government was committed to funding the program in the future. He said his decision to run for parliament had been because a group of people threatened his school and his students.

“I was brought to this place because of group of people threatened my school and my students, well know I have 15 schools that I stand as guardian over, and will protect them from those who will do them harm.”

While other inaugural speeches included quotes from politicians and great philosophers, the school teacher turned politician said he took inspiration from one of the great teachers – Xmen’s Professor Charles Xavier.

“I feel a great swell of pity for the poor soul who comes to my school looking for trouble.” Healy said ending his first speech in parliament.

Graeme Watson

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