New Committee of Management for NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby

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 refreshed, with new members bringing a range of skills and experience.

Members of the Committee include experts in human rights and discrimination law, community development, and mental health marketing.

“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 LGBTI people are viewed in Australian society, but there remains a tremendous amount of work to do.”

It was noted at the AGM that in 2018 the Lobby will celebrate 30 years of continual advocacy.

“In 2018 the Lobby will celebrate 30 years of advocacy for vital law reforms affecting LGBTI communities – from decriminalisation of homosexuality through to marriage equality,” the Co-convenors said.

“We look forward to sharing a moment with you as we host a range of events, to consider what achieving and maintaining full equality looks like – and of course, to celebrate how far we’ve come!”

NSW GLRL’s Annual Report documents the group’s steps towards legal reform and equality for the state’s LGBTI residents, highlighting:

• The preparation of 11 detailed submissions to Government or Parliamentary Inquiries

• The development of a geo-mapping project to highlight hotspots of vilification across NSW, in partnership with Monash University and ACON

• The landmark national media moment of presenting 12 years’ worth of your Equality hearts on the front lawns of Australian Parliament

• Appreciation to the amazing volunteers who helped the Lobby participate in 10 community based events

• We partnered to host the biggest pro LGBTI rally seen in NSW’s history

• We participated in 104 stakeholder and community meetings

• We provided 347 media interviews and comments nationally and internationally.

According to the report, the organisation’s goals for the year ahead include working on combatting discrimination, especially removing exemptions for religious organisations. Legislation needs to address the fundamental right to equality and non-discrimination before the law and corresponding rights to security of the person within the context of a Human Rights Framework, comprehensive state and federal vilification and discrimination protections and safety for young LGBTI people and rainbow families.

Our law reform priorities.

FEDERAL

The removal of exemptions for faith based organisations receiving Commonwealth funding

Comprehensive Federal Vilification Protections

A national Surrogacy Framework

Reinvigoration of a Frame Work for Human Rights in Australia

Processing of Asylum seekers, queer and queer friendly services for asylum seekers and refugees in Australia, UN humanitarian intake, detention and shifting the conversation within LGBTIQ communities about intersectionality, human rights and equality

Marriage Equality*

STATE

The re-introduction of Safe Schools or a similar anti bullying program in NSW

Review of NSW Anti-Discrimination and Vilification legislation

Banning of Conversion/Reparative therapy

A review of the Expungement (conviction for homosexual activity prior to the decriminalisation of homosexuality NSW) Scheme to ensure best practice and equitable access

Independent police oversight and scrutiny of Operation Parrabell

LOCAL

Street Light Audit in partnership with the City of Sydney and Local relationships

Development of a Pride Centre in the Inner West

SENATOR SMITH’S MARRIAGE AMENDMENT BILL: THE ONLY LEGITIMATE BILL COME 15 NOVEMBER 2017

The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) has today called on Federal Parliament to immediately enable debate on marriage equality legislation if the survey result is a majority “YES” on 15 November 2017.

“With nearly 11 million Australians having voted, and the Labor Caucus today backing Dean Smith’s Bill, the nation’s attention now rightly turns to ‘what will Parliament do once the result is announced?’,” Convenor of GLRL, Ms Lauren Foy said.

“The Australian Parliament mustn’t muck around if the Australian people say “YES” on 15 November – parliament must get behind Senator Smith’s Marriage Amendment Bill and pass it as soon as possible.”

The Senate will be sitting on 15 November and could potentially move to immediately debate Senator Smith’s Amendment Bill after the 11:30AM announcement of the survey result.

While equality advocates like GLRL have serious reservations about the Bill favouring religious rights over other rights for marriage celebrants, several conclude it’s the only legitimate Bill to quickly resolve the issue.

“Only one Bill has the legitimacy of being presented to the Australian public in the run-up to and during this unprecedented survey – and that’s Senator Smith’s consensus Bill,” Ms Foy said.

Senator Smith’s Bill has received national coverage in the lead up to, and during, the postal survey period. Major media organisations have provided analysis and coverage of the Bill, and our only nation-wide newspaper, The Australian, even provided its online readership with a full copy of the Bill in the first weeks of the postal survey period.

“We’re prepared to put aside our reservations about Senator Smith’s Bill favouring religious laypeople who are celebrants in order that Australia can have a resolution before Christmas 2017,” Ms Foy said.

“It has Labor’s backing and we know many in Parliament have said they support it – so now we all want to know: does Prime Minister Turnbull’s Cabinet support it?”

“If the nation says YES come 15 November 2017, then there’s no case for any other Bill to pass parliament – and no case for ushering in major new discriminations against LGBTI people under the smokescreen of so-called religious ‘freedoms’,” Ms Foy concluded.

Senator Smith’s Bill is based on the consensus report of the recent Select Committee on the Exposure Draft of the Marriage Amendment (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill. The Select Committee held public hearings and received over 400 submissions from the public, including several religious organisations.

STATEMENT: “Straight Lives Matter” Rally

This weekend a “Straight Lives Matter” rally is planned for a well-known LGBTI area in Sydney.

We urge the community to stay away from this rally.

The goal of this group is not to persuade nor debate. It is to provoke a response and increase media attention.

We note the organisers have a history of provocation and their minds are already made up on marriage equality. We also note these individuals are not approaching us in a respectful, open-minded way to discuss concerns or issues.

The next few months will continue to test our integrity as some seek to delegitimise our calls for equality before the law.

This is another reason why we urge people to stay away from the rally. There is no benefit to you hearing, again, the debunked ‘slippery slope’ claims about LGBTI people and marriage equality promoted by this group.

We also urge any group considering a counter-rally to be mindful.

While we respect the right of community members to register and hold a rally or protest we do not endorse any protest being held near Oxford Street on this issue on the afternoon of Saturday 23 September 2017.

This includes the counter-rally. We note the counter-rally is organised by a collective who aren’t formally part of the YES Campaign group of organisations.

Finally, it should go without saying that no matter what your political views, using violence and physical intimidation is never acceptable.

We must remember what this is about – love, dignity and mutual respect.

ENDS  

Marriage Equality Campaign urges communities in NSW to join together and say ‘YES’ to marriage equality

Campaigners for marriage equality have united to urge all NSW residents to check their enrolment details with the Australian Electoral Commission before midnight August 24.

Longstanding LGBTI rights organisations, grassroots campaigners and politicians have combined to support the ‘YES’ campaign and to ensure people have registered to have their say.

“We strongly urge members of the community to make sure you’re enrolled, and that your details are up to date with the Australian Electoral Commission by visiting their website,” Lauren Foy, Convenor of the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby said.

While universally condemning the idea of using a non-compulsory postal survey, advocates acknowledged that, subject to a successful High Court challenge, the community will need to participate in the postal survey.

“There is momentum behind marriage equality but like with the Brexit vote in the UK, we are strongly urging everyone not to be complacent,”  Ms Foy said.

Ms Foy also urged communities to engage in local events, speak to friends, family, colleagues, neighbours and strangers to advocate for marriage equality.

“LGBTI groups are united in this message – now is the time for Australia to embrace marriage equality” she said.

“Now is not the time to be silent – now is the time to make your voice heard. This is not only about marriage, about love, and equality – it is also about the direction of our nation.

“Do we want a stronger nation that embraces more freedom, respect and tolerance for all Australians? If you do then get involved – don’t sit on the sidelines.”

Ms Foy urged the community to attend a QandA discussion about the campaign and what you can do to be on the bright side of history.

Speakers include:

Alex Greenwich Co-Chair Australian Marriage Equality

Hon. Tanya Plibersek Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Shadow Minister for Education and Shadow Minister for Women

Jenny Leong MP Member for Newtown

Tiernan Brady Director The Equality Campaign

Lauren Foy Convenor NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby

Sally Rugg Campaign Director GetUp!

RSVP for the Event Here

NSWGLRL welcomes the release of the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017

The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (NSWGLRL) welcomes this Bill and its attempt to find a compromise proposal the current Parliament can support. This reform to the Marriage Act is long overdue and much too important to be delayed any longer.

However, it has been the longstanding position of the NSWGLRL that there should be no religious exemptions in the treatment of LGBTI persons where a service is provided by, or on behalf of, the Australian Government.

The proposed Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017 appears to offer current marriage celebrants a legal protection to refuse to marry gay and lesbian couples based solely on a personal religious belief [see: Section 39 DD (2), and Section 47 A]. This new exemption would also apply to straight couples.

NSWGLRL does not support this new encroachment of personal religious beliefs into the provision of services supplied by Government-authorised celebrants who are not Ministers of Religion.

Despite this imperfection the Bill has every chance of succeeding in Parliament if there is a conscience vote – and there should be no excuse for further delay or rejection of this Bill by the current Parliament.

The recent Senate Committee inquiry into marriage equality rose above party politics and showed that political parties can work together to deliver the will of the Australian people.

The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (NSWGLRL) is the leading organisation for lesbian and gay rights in NSW. Established in 1988, our mission is to achieve substantive legislative and social equality for lesbians, gay men and their families.

A statement from the NSW GLRL Co-convenors

Earlier this week, the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, as well as one of its Committee of Management members, Shannon Molloy, was on the receiving end of behaviour that was completely unacceptable.

The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby is an organisation that for twenty-nine years has continued to fight for equality for LGBTI people. We believe that no person should be discriminated against for who they are. We also believe that no person should be victimised because of who they are. We have seen too many instances of abuse that people within the LGBTI community, as well as the LGBTI community as a whole, has received. Being told that we do not deserve the same rights, the same protections, the same respect, is something that no person should ever have to experience. When that behaviour comes from within our own community, it should be condemned. There is a difference between having a debate on an issue, and personally attacking someone. The behaviour that has been shown this week towards particular individuals that have proudly volunteered for our organisation has been nothing short of appalling. It is damaging, and there should be consequences for those responsible.

One of the biggest strengths that the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby has is its volunteers – something which has existed throughout the entirety of the organisation’s history. Every person that sits on the Committee of Management, including ourselves as Co-convenors, are volunteers. We are completely committed to our mandate of achieving legislative and social equality for LGBTI people, and we as volunteers give as much time and effort as we possibly can to make that happen. Attacking and criticising one volunteer purely because of their employer, one which afforded them the opportunity to speak of their discrimination and victimisation they have personally experienced, is unacceptable. Volunteers speak for and represent themselves, not their entire place of employment. To use the actions of others as justification to abuse people is wrong. It is not acceptable, and it never will be.

It is with sadness that following the amount of public attention his role at the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby has attracted this week, Shannon Molloy has resigned from the Committee of Management. Shannon has the total support of the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, and should he ever wish to return to the organisation to help create positive change for our community, an issue which is so dear to his heart, we will welcome him back with open arms. Since his election to the Committee of Management, Shannon has made an incredible difference to the organisation, and we cannot thank him enough.

The unwarranted abuse has to stop. People within the LGBTI community should only want the absolute best for their peers, their friends, their loved ones, their community. There should only be one priority – achieving equality, not stopping until the day that arrives, and supporting each other to make that happen every single day.

Marriage Equality: The Case For Reform

While there are many disparateissues to canvass in the case for marriage equality, we particularly encourageindividuals to consider making the following points in their submission.

Marriage is a civil institution, governed by secular laws, of which allpeople are entitled equitable access.

  • Marriage is not an immutable religious institution. The GLRL recognises that marriage takes many forms in different cultures and has various religious histories attached to it. However, marriages performed by the state are civil, not religious, in nature. Federal legislation should reflect the separation of Church and State and not seek to privilege particular religious interests over treating all its citizens equally. Civil marriage equality should be made available to all couples regardless of sex.
  • Marriage equality is an issue of human rights. Marriage reforms are essential to uphold the human rights of sexual and gender minorities. Australia has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that expressly provides for equality before the law and right to non-discrimination. In recent history, marriage reforms, through the lens of non-discrimination, have secured the legitimacy of interracial unions and furthered the agency of women in marital relationships. In the context of evolving norms then, the Marriage Act 1961 should be amended to define marriage as the ‘union of two people’ irrespective of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Australia is falling behind comparable jurisdictions and should recognise foreign marriages. Same-sex couples can legally be married in many foreign nations: Canada, the Netherlands, Argentina and South Africa permit equal marriage. Despite not recognising these marriages in Australia, the Federal Government now issues eligible same-sex couples Certificates of No Impediment to marry in these jurisdictions. Couples that are legally married in overseas jurisdictions, should have their marriages recognised in Australia.
  • Marriage equality has broad community support. Consistent polling indicates that over 60 percent of Australians support marriage equality.
  • Civil unions are not substitutes to full marriage equality. The GLRL recognises that relationship recognition can take multiple forms, and we support a range of options being available for same-sex couples. However, permitting civil unions or relationship register schemes, while denying same-sex couples access to marriage, produces a tiered relationship structure that privileges heterosexual relationships while undermining same-sex relationship recognition. 

Update on LGBTQI Advocacy

Last night, a community update meeting was held at ACON to present the LGBTQI policing advocacy paper. This paper is now available to download.

Click here to download the advocacy paper: Policing at NSW Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ) Events and Venues. [345.37 Kb]

The advocacy paper addresses a range of recommendations and solutions to improve policing, event management, community relations and visitor experience and contains twelve recommendations regarding political and operational reforms.

The advocacy paper and its recommendations were developed after an extensive review of numerous complaints from the community and feedback provided by attendees at community meetings held in March and June.

The document results from the collaboration between several LGBTQI organisations, including Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG), ACON, the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) and the Inner City Legal Centre (ICLC).

Since the development of the advocacy paper and over the last three months, significant consultation has occurred with senior government and cross party politicians, and government agencies including NSW Police to implement some of the key recommendations.

This ongoing process will result in soon to be announced new operational management plans that are to be implemented in time for the 2014 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival.