ACTION AND PROTECT: INNER-WEST COUNCIL

Voices in support of The Pride Centre – Inner West Council Meeting

Co-Convenor Jack Whitney with other activists at the council meeting

Yesterday the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby held an action and spoke at the Inner West Council to reaffirm support for a Pride Centre in the inner west.

We provided signs stating, “stuck in the past Passas”, “Passas gotta go”, “pride centre now”, “no homophobia in inner west”, “no transphobia in inner west”.

The Pride Centre is intended to provide a safe, welcoming and inclusive space for the LGBTIQ community. There are many vulnerabilities experienced by the LGBTIQ community. Keeping this in mind, the Pride Centre will provide access to programs and services specific to the Inner West community. This space will grow community wellbeing.

In March 2019, The Inner West Council conducted a survey in regard to the visioning of a Pride Centre. The results found 87% of respondents said it was very or extremely important to have a Pride Centre in the Inner West.

Jack Whitney, Lobby Co-Convenor stated “delays in this vital service creates reservations in the community that the ever-important Pride Centre will never happen. This is very concerning as the trust that has been built will potentially be lost, and the goodwill will be diminished”.

He continued, “the Lobby is concerned that harmful views held by Clr Julie Passas, may hold back the progress of the creation of the Pride Centre… this is someone who recently compared the Rainbow flag to the ISIS flag.

“We called on the council to not delay”, Whitney stated.

End

Further comment can be directed to Jack Whitney on 0411387913

ONE NATION ANTI-EDUCATION BILL

May be an image of ‎1 person, sitting and ‎text that says '‎Hح Mr Jack Whitney‎'‎‎
Co-Convenor, Jack Whitney presenting evidence at the inquiry

Lobby Co-Convenor, Jack Whitney, presented evidence and testimony with Twenty10 and Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth on the dangerous and harmful Parental Rights Education Bill proposed by Latham.

We know the evidence – this bill does nothing to improve educational outcomes and removing bullying in our schools. It deliberately attacks teachers and LGBTIQ+ students, particularly trans and gender diverse students.

We are proud of what we have been able to achieve so far, but the fight doesn’t end here. Contact the committee below and tell them your opposition against the bill.

https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/inquiries/Pages/inquiry-details.aspx?pk=2610#tab-members

Help us make a difference by donating here

2020 Annual General Meeting

This years Annual General Meeting was held via zoom.

We want to thank our Chair Daniel Richardson-Clark and our Returning Officer Ruby Leonard-Taylor for their assistance in facilitating the evening.

The fight for LGBTI rights has made significant advances in recent years, but there is still much to do – and the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby is leading the charge.

At the recent Annual General Meeting the Lobby’s Committee of Management was reelected and reaffirmed.

Members of the Committee include advocates, lawyers, social workers, public health workers, consultants, policy advisers and and mental health managers.

“It is an honour to work with such a dedicated team, and an exciting time to be involved,” the Co-convenors said.

“We are witnessing a dramatic change in the way we are doing things given Covid-19 and the impacts on LGBTI people.”

It was noted at the AGM that a special meeting will be held in the new year to finalise the name change consultation.

NSW GLRL’s Annual Report documents the group’s steps towards legal reform and equality for the state’s LGBTI residents, as well as protecting our current protections with the likes of Mark Latham.

• The preparation of detailed submissions to Government or Parliamentary Inquiries

• The development of a Covid-19 community survey and report to highlight the impacts on the LGBTI community, now in further partnership with WSU

• We partnered with key stakeholders as a key signatory for the Protect Us All campaign.

• We participated in over a 100 organiser, stakeholder and community meetings with politicians, partner organisations, NSW police, Universities, members and volunteers.

• We provided media interviews and comments nationally and internationally, including fairfax op-eds and LGBTI media.

Stay proud,

Co-Convenors,

Audrey Marsh and Jack Whitney

NSW COVID-19 COMMUNITY SURVEY: Findings Report Released

PRESS RELEASE:

  • NSWGLRL surveyed its membership and the NSW community to determine how COVID-19 had impacted them.
  • Co-Convenor, Jack Whitney states that the COVID-19 pandemic impacted LGBTIQ people particularly, and amplified existing issues facing our community.
  • NSWGLRL brought attention key issues in a recent submission to the Select Committee on COVID-19: An Inquiry Into The Federal Government’s Response

Beginning in early May, the NSWGLRL survey asked questions about demographics, employment, mental health, wellbeing, relationships, and healthcare. The results show matters of concern for community and policy makers alike – across economic, health and safety.

Co-convenor, Jack Whitney stated, “the research undertaken by the lobby shows that LGBTIQ people have experienced significant mental health vulnerabilities as a direct result of the COVID-19 crisis.” Other health issues highlighted by the research included stories where gender affirming surgeries had been disrupted or completely postponed.

Results illustrate the economic impacts of the crisis, where 14% of respondents lost employment during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Co-Convenor, Jack Whitney, reported “the stories of the community and our members show that the majority of job losses are in financial services, community services, travel and tourism, fitness and communications.”

Other economic impacts include LGBTIQ asylum seekers who do not have access to financial assistance, particularly those on temporary protection or bridging visas.

Whitney reported, “Safety was a common issue for our members… there was a story of a young gay man who had to go back to his family home who are not supportive… he has had to stop talking to his boyfriend and friends.”

Domestic and family violence was also reported as an issue where relationships had deteriorated due to social distancing, living indoors, unemployment and other compounding factors.

Data collection of the community is also an ongoing issue, especially as the Australian Government continues to not count LGBTIQ communities in its census.

Whitney states, “data on LGBTIQ people is sorely missing and seldom collected… this is why it is so crucial that we are counted in the Australian Census… if we aren’t counted, how will we ever be able measure community wellbeing and improve outcomes for future generations?”

NSWGLRL brought attention these key issues in a recent submission to the Select Committee on COVID-19: An Inquiry Into The Federal Government’s Response.

Whitney stated, “We are confident that we have presented the issues most pressing and unique to the LGBTIQ people. We hope that the Government takes seriously our submissions, alongside with other civil society partners, like Amnesty International and the Human Rights Law Centre”. 

Read our Findings Report here.

Our submission to the inquiry can be found here.

ENDS

For further comment, contact Jack Whitney Co-Convenor on 0411387913.

If this article brings on mental health presentations, or you just want someone to talk to, please contact: Lifeline 13 11 14, QLife (LGBTI+, 3pm to 12am) 1800 184 527, Headspace – 1800 650 890

Press Release: Mark Latham’s Anti-Discrimination Amendment Bill is flawed

The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (‘the GLRL’) recently produced a submission to the Inquiry on the Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Complaint Handling) Bill 2020 (‘the Bill’) as part of the NSW Legislative Council Portfolio Committee No.5 Legal Affairs Inquiry. The GLRL, like many other community groups, have identified issues with the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (‘the Act’), especially where it fails to adequately protect LGBTIQ people from discrimination. The GLRL also acknowledged that there are legitimate problems with the way complaints made under the Act are handled.

Jack Whitney, Convenor of The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby argued that the inquiry is not the best avenue, “The issues are best addressed by a full review of the Act in partnership with the community, rather than through piecemeal amendments to individual elements of the legislation”.

“The lobby has full knowledge of the context in which The Hon. Mark Latham MLC has drafted the Bill. We also understand that The Hon. Mark Latham MLC and others genuinely believe themselves to have been subject to vexatious complaints. However, we ask that the issues of complaint handling be considered in full by an expert body, such as Anti-Discrimination NSW themselves or the Law Reform Commission, as one element of a broader review into the Act, rather than via this Bill.”

Recommendations accompanying the submission are informed by the lobby’s consultation with Members of Parliament, key organisation and community consultation. It was in this consultation that firmed our position that a full review of the Act represents a better process than this Bill, and that there are clear concerns how the Bill has been drafted.

“In considering these proposed amendments, it is critical to remember that there is no requirement for complainants to Anti-Discrimination NSW to have legal representation. This means that the impact of this Bill would be felt most acutely by unrepresented victims of discrimination trying to navigate a complex legal system.”

Other concerns include; stopping victims from accessing justice in more than one jurisdiction, stopping victims from accessing justice where the discrimination occurred over more than 12 months, stopping victims from accessing justice because some part of the complaint lacks substance, adding unnecessary complexity by requiring victims and respondents to provide details of cognitive function.

“The Bill as drafted is flawed, would limit access to justice and unnecessarily complicates a system which must be capable of navigation by unrepresented victims of discrimination. This Bill should be rejected and a full review of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977, including complaint handling, be pursued by an external body such as the Anti-Discrimination NSW or the Law Reform Commission in partnership with thecommunity.”

Read the submission here

ENDS

For further comment, contact Jack Whitney Convenor, NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby on 0411387913

 

Press release: NSW government blood donation restrictions

 

The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby is pleased by news that the NSW government is set to ease restrictions preventing men who have had sex with men from donating blood. This follows the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) acceptance of Lifeblood’s submission to lower the blood donation deferral period for men who have had sex with men to three months, originally set at 12 months.

The Lobby has joined calls for the NSW Government to act swiftly to implement the decision of the TGA and work with the federal, state and territory governments to see this change come into effect as soon as possible given the current health crisis.

NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby Convenor, Jack Whitney stated “During the current public health crisis, it is especially critical that Australians continue to donate blood. Now that the NSW Government has indicated it will move ahead, it should act swiftly to implement the decision of the TGA and lower the deferral period for men who have had sex with men.”

Advocates have long called for restrictions on the donation of blood from men who have sex with men to be eased. For men that are sexually active however this round of  changes will likely make little difference.

The Lobby encourages the ongoing review of evidence by authorities to work towards a future where all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, are able to donate blood.

NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby Convenor, Jack Whitney stated “We encourage all relevant authorities to continue to review evidence and work towards a future where all people are able to donate blood.”

We also note the concerns raised by the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations regarding the exclusion of PrEP users and ask that these questions being promptly addressed by Lifeblood, TGA and government.

NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby Convenor, Jack Whitney stated “Overall, this is good news. However, it is not good enough and there are areas for improvement. We want to see all individuals whose sexual activity is safe, and meet the other requirements, to be able to donate regardless of time period. Three months will mean very little to too many in the community.  The lobby recommends removing the existing deferral period altogether. There should be routine unsafe sex screening for all people and all sexual preferences. The risk of passing on infections through blood donation is created by unsafe sex – not because of individual markers of sexual preference and gender.”

For further contact Jack Whitney 0411387913 or convenors@glrl.org.au

Screen Shot 2020-04-17 at 1.59.02 pm

Media Release: Submission to the Gay and Transgender Hate Crimes Between 1970 and 2010 in the 57th Parliament

Screen Shot 2020-02-28 at 4.15.52 pm

Submission to the Gay and Transgender Hate Crimes Between 1970 and 2010 in the 57th Parliament

The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby has made its submission to the inquiry into the Gay and Transgender Hate Crimes Between 1970 and 2010 in the 57th Parliament.

Lobby Convenor, Jack Whitney stated : “… murder has always been a crime in NSW. Hate crime is a crime in NSW. A fair and decent civil society should not only actively try to strike down these crimes and hate where it occurs, but it should also acknowledge past wrongs when it fails to intervene.”

“As this inquiry has seen – this hate LGBTIQ Australians have experienced, solely for being LGBTIQ, is vast and wide. Therefore, in making this submission the NSWGLRL seeks to highlight our position that an apology is overdue, that NSW Police has a responsibility to change its culture and provide training so that it can effectively serve the public, and that the services and community organisations that provide care to LGBTIQ Australians be funded so they can continue their important work”, Lobby Convenor, Jack Whitney stated.

You can read our full submission here.

NSW GLRL statement on Religious Freedom Bill

There is no such thing as “equality – but with exceptions”. Following consultation on the second exposure draft, the NSW GLRL (the Lobby) will now oppose any Religious Discrimination Bill as long as Scott Morrison and Christian Porter remain in power.

Convenor of the Lobby, Jack Whitney, stated today “This second draft is a slap in the face. This Coalition Government cannot be trusted to introduce fair, measured and equal laws that protect LGBTI people, women, people with disability, and faith-based communities.”

Whitney further stated that, “The lobby and the LGBTI community extended the olive branch to Scott Morrison during the first round of consultations. We were engaged in the process, genuinely and wholeheartedly… we want to bring communities together, not divide them”.

The Lobby in its consultation reached the view that this second draft is inconsistent, lacks compatibility with state laws, and is significantly more complex. Whitney, who is concerned about the day-to-day reality for LGBTI communities if the Bill is to pass, stated, “It is almost impossible to contemplate such a Bill being applied with our current modern anti-discrimination laws… not to mention completely denigrates the consultation process and signifies that the Coalition Government does not take seriously our concerns”.

The Lobby has consulted with members of parliament, both in the Coalition Government and the Opposition, and it has become clear that there is disagreement within the Coalition, and the Opposition cannot formulate a position from this second draft. Whitney stated Scott Morrison and Christian Porter, “lack the leadership and clarity to bring together the parliament, the LGBTI community, and the faith-based communities on this issue”.

The NSWGLRL believes that rather than further watering down the current legal protections of LGBTI people with this Bill, we need stronger laws that provide further protections for LGBTI people.

The reason for this can be seen most recently in the Newtown Police case of homophobic discrimination brought by four former police employees. Despite offering substantial evidence of homophobic incidents over many years, the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal found that common usage of insults like “faggots”, “lezzos” and even “gay cunts” didn’t of itself constitute bullying or harassment. If it was, however, a one-off serious comment of a sexual nature, it would likely be considered sexual harassment. This inconsistency must end. Improvements to legal protections should come from both NSW and federal parliaments in partnership with one another, guided by the LGBTI community.

Jack Whitney 
Convenor – New South Wales Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby
glrl-logo