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WA Labor accused of being more interested in photo ops than law reform

Western Australian Premier Roger Cook and his parliamentary colleagues have been accused of choosing photo shoots over action on equal opportunity law reform.

Criticism of the government’s lack of action on a range of issues affecting LGBTIQA+ communities has been made clear as over 40 public organisations share a joint letter to the Premier and Attorney General John Quigley voicing their concerns about government inaction.

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Stevie Lane, a spokesperson for LGBTIQA+ rights group Rainbow Futures, said the Premier needed to take action.

“LGBTIQA+ people and the wider community are deeply passionate about the quick implementation of law reforms affecting us.

“This government would prefer to march in the Pride parade to undeserved applause than enact meaningful legislative reform. If they have taken any action towards meaningful reform, it has not been visible to the community, and it has become increasingly difficult to understand the reason for delays.

“We urge Premier Cook and Attorney General Quigley to receive this letter with the seriousness in which it is sent and call on their government to act with urgency.” Lane said.

The government is being urged to take action on a long list of topics including equal opportunity law reform, abolishment of the WA Gender Recognition Board, the introduction of laws to protect people from conversion ‘therapy’ practices, and updates to laws relating to surrogacy.

Gabriel Osborne, co-founder of Flying Free and recent winner of the Young People’s Award at the 2023 Australian Human Rights Awards added their voice to chorus of disapproval.

“As a public survivor of conversion practices in WA, I have been contacted by other survivors and know that institutions are regularly engaging in these torturous practices within our state.

“A comprehensive ban on conversion practices is not something which can be put on the back burner as every day in WA a vulnerable person is being harmed.”

There have been multiple reports that the government is planning to delay action on law reform because it doesn’t want to create any political controversies ahead of the 2025 state election. Attorney General John Quigley has denied plans to introduce the law reforms have been shelved.

Renne Carr, Executive Director at Fair Agenda, said removing discrimination and disadvantage should be a priority for the government.

“In our fight for women’s equality, we must disrupt the systems that disadvantage and marginalise individuals based on gender. This imperative includes discrimination in any form against trans and gender diverse people.

“We urge the Western Australian government to recognise and address discriminatory policies impacting the LGBTIQA+ community for a more inclusive and fair society where everyone can thrive.” Carr said.

Many of the issues raised by rights advocates are reforms the government spoke about prior to coming to power in 2017.

The WA Labor Party committed to abolishing the Gender Recognition Board at its state conference in 2017, but despite being in government for six and half years has yet to take any significant action on the matter.

Over the years, the Attorney General has given a variety of reasons why a timeline on reform in this area could not be provided including the cabinet deliberations, the Morrison federal government’s proposed religious discrimination laws, and more recently the outcomes of the parliamentary inquiry into the Esther Foundation.

In parliament late last year the government refused to give a timeline on reforms to both the Equal Opportunity Act and the Gender Recognition Act.

Declaration: OUTinPerth co-editor Graeme Watson and Stevie Lane from Rainbow Futures are both employed by Edith Cowan University. 


Do you need some support?

If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, support and counselling are available from:

QLife: 1800 184 527 / qlife.org.au (Webchat 3pm – midnight)
QLife are a counselling and referral service for LGBTQIA+ people.

DISCHARGEDinfo@discharged.asn.au / discharged.asn.au
Discharged is a trans-led support service with peer support groups for trans and gender diverse folks.

Lifeline: 13 11 14 / lifeline.org.au

Beyondblue: 1300 22 4636 / www.beyondblue.org.au


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