Home' LOTL : Mardi Gras Contents BY LAUREN FOY
AND CHRIS PYCROFT
The reason we’re still here is because we want to lead the fight for substantive
equality and social justice for lesbians, gay men and their families.
We’re proud to have stood up for issues that have impacted on the lives of
many in our community. Our advocacy has resulted in some important and
necessary changes to ensure we are treated equally. Since homosexuality was
decriminalised in 1984, Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers (GLLOs) have been
introduced into police stations (in 1990), the age of consent was made equal (in
2003), and just 18 months ago, the ‘gay panic defence’ was finally abolished in
New South Wales.
Over the past 20 years, we’ve seen greater recognition of our rights. In 1999,
laws were introduced to recognise next of kin, hospital and relationship rights
for same-sex couples. In 2008, laws were changed so that co-mothers
could become legal parents of children. That change was just one of many
which happened because of 58 ’08, one of the largest campaigns we’ve
ever undertaken. Sweeping changes passed through parliament meant that
same-sex couples were now recognised across a wide range of laws including
Medicare, family law, child support and superannuation. Two years later, same-
sex couples would finally have the right to adopt children; the change passed
the Legislative Assembly by just two votes.
We’ve achieved a lot since we were founded in the late 1980’s . The political
landscape has changed, and levels of acceptance are at the highest
they’ve ever been. But we’re still hearing too many stories of people being
discriminated against; people being unwilling victims of homophobia because
of who they are. Our mission to achieve full equality has not weakened at any
point. If anything, it has only gotten stronger. It never has been OK to treat us as
anything less than equal, and it never will be.
While we’ve made some fantastic progress, there is still work to be done. We’ve
spent so much time campaigning for marriage equality. We know it’s nearly
here; we’ve been agonisingly close for a while. Debate is now at the point of
marriage equality potentially being decided through a plebiscite. We think it’s
THE NSW GAY AND LESBIAN RIGHTS LOBBY HAS
BEEN AROUND FOR NEARLY 30 YEARS. IN THAT
TIME, WE’VE SEEN A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT
OF CHANGE, BUT THERE ARE STILL PLENTY OF
CHALLENGES AHEAD BEFORE WE CAN ACHIEVE
SOCIAL AND LEGISLATIVE EQUALITY.
unnecessary; politicians have the power to change the Marriage Act. It’s been
done before to ban same-sex marriage, it can be done again to pass it. But if we
do need to go to a public vote, we know that we can win it.
OTHER SOCIAL AND LEGISLATIVE CHANGES
We also know that there is a lot more than just marriage equality that needs to
be achieved. Exemptions still exist in anti-discrimination laws in areas such as
education, community services and aged care. Anti-vilification laws needs to
be changed so that homosexuality is treated the same. Our work as a part of
the Safe Schools Coalition needs to continue so that school students are not
bullied because of who they are.
Further efforts are needed to ensure that all intended parents are recognised as
having children. We need to make sure that the school curriculum specifically
includes LGBTI people, bullying and discrimination. Levels of violence and
homophobia are far too high, and more needs to be done to improve the
mental health and wellbeing of people in our community. This year is an
election year; it’s an opportunity for us to push for important change.
Our cause and our organisation exists to fight for our community. We need
your support so that we can continue that fight. We’re hearing more often of
‘war chests’ of donations being collected by our opposition, campaigns that
say, ‘ There’s more to it than we think,’ and that our ‘choices’ can be respected
but laws should not be changed. We know that’s not right. You know that’s not
right. Let’s do something about it.
There are a number of ways that you can get involved. You can become
a member of the GLRL and have a say in how we should operate and the
issues we should be fighting for. You can make a monthly regular donation;
contributing the cost of a cup of coffee each week can often make a big
difference. You can join us at Rainbow Run at Sydney Park on 27 February, a
community fun run that will help us raise money for our campaigns this year.
You can donate your time and play a pivotal role in helping us shape and deliver
our campaigns. Or you can find us at Mardi Gras Fair Day; swing by our stall
and tell us what’s important to you. We’re a community organisation, and we
want to best make sure we represent it as best we can. Every person in our
community is important; we want you to be heard and we want you to join us in
helping make that change. We’ll be as strong as you want us to be. Let’s make
You can become a member, donate or find out more about Rainbow Run on our
website at www.glrl.org.au .
22 Lesbians On The Loose Magazine • lotl.com
COMMUNITY | POLITICS - LGBT RIGHTS
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