What is the point of LGBTI members of parliament? Where are you when we need you?

OPINION: Paul-Alain Hunt, former president of Pride WA

Recently Maylands MP Lisa Baker gave a speech in parliament to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of CAMP, the state’s first LGBTI lobby group.

Gee, that’s nice. But where the hell has Baker been on more urgent topics? A hate-bus of religious fundamentalists is currently touring the state to inflict LGBTI conversion practices on vulnerable people. What has Baker said about that? What is her government doing to stop it?


The United Nations has called for an end to this practice, saying “it may amount to torture.” It has been condemned by the Australian Medical Association and Australian Psychological Society as “harmful and dangerous.”

The evidence from survivor groups and qualified research, finds that it leads to depression, anxiety, PTSD and suicidal ideation. And it’s currently being inflicted on children.

What has Stephen Dawson MLC, Minister for Mental Health, said about this? What is his government doing to stop it?


Last year, a huge protest rally gathered out front the City of Perth Council offices to denounce the Lord Mayor’s abuse of transgender people.

Hate-speech and vilification of LGBTI people has not been outlawed in WA. Despite this protest happening right in the middle of his electorate, what did Perth MP John Carey say about this? What is his government doing to stop it?


The McGowan Government, which won a landslide election this year, had promised to ban LGBTI conversion practices in its first term. Now in its second term, no legislation has been drafted.

It is precisely because of the Government’s complacency that this hate group can take its road show of homophobia and transphobia on tour around the state.

And these are not the only issues which draw silence and inaction from our LGBTI MPs and allies.

In 2015, when a seven year girl was expelled from a Mandurah Christian school for having two gay dads, then as Opposition Leader, McGowan told the media, “that in his opinion the law was wrong and should be changed.”

This view was expressed again in 2017, when gay English teacher, Craig Campbell, was sacked from a Baptist College in Rockingham – McGowan’s own electorate.

McGowan is no longer Opposition Leader, he is now Premier with control of both houses of parliament.

To end this discrimination in schools all it will require is for a one-sentence definition of “special religious exemptions” to be removed from the 1984 Equal Opportunity Act. It can be done on a Tuesday afternoon.

But still there is no legislation and no public advocacy for it from our LGBTI MPs and allies.

Other outstanding issues include law reform for people who are transgender and gender diverse, and banning non-consensual surgery on intersex people.

And while you’re at it, it would be helpful if our gay-friendly MPs demanded the return of funding for the Inclusive Education program. Our state recorded a healthy budget surplus this year, we can well afford it and LGBTI kids need it.

I know some people will say, “Hang on a minute, there are lots of things the government has to take care of. LGBTI issues are not a priority.”

The thing is we have been told that for 50 years. As the founding members of CAMP will attest, the biggest problem to achieving reform is actually getting the government to do something. To stop ranking LGBTI issues as a low priority and to actually address them.

There has been no substantive LGBTI law reform in WA for two decades. We have fallen far behind other states.

We don’t need to hear any more speeches about what LGBTI people struggled to achieve 50 years ago, we need to hear speeches about what this government is promising to achieve for us by the end of this year.

It is disappointing I even have to write this Op-Ed, given I count so many named in this article as friends or at least acquaintances. But the time for basket weaving is over. We need action now.

Paul-Alain Hunt
Previous Pride WA President

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.

DISCHARGED: 9364 6909 / waamh.org.au / [email protected]
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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