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

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

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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.

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  

Disappointed Nation Steels Itself to Win Unprecedented Civil Rights Survey

The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (NSWGLRL) has called on all Australians to channel their disappointment with today’s High Court outcome into advocating for marriage equality.

“Without doubt today’s decision continues this dark stain on the law-making institutions and traditions of Australia – a nation which likes to think of itself as a strong liberal democracy,” NSWGLRL Convenor Lauren Foy said.

“This is not how we make laws and it should never again be repeated.”

“We must now channel our disappointment into advocacy by talking to friends, neighbours and colleagues about Voting YES – because the only thing worse than this process is losing the survey result,” she said.

Ms Foy also called on the community to report any messages of vilification to NSWGLRL for future representations to Government as well as to Police if they believe an offence has been committed.

“We support both free speech and mutual respect, and messages of vilification have no place in our communities or in this debate.

“If you see a clear example send it to the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby via the contact details on our website – and if you think an offence has been committed contact Police or seek legal advice,” Ms Foy said.

NSWGLRL encouraged the community to stay strong amidst the ongoing campaign to delegitimise LGBTI rights, including from national figureheads.

“Most thinking Australians see the actions of these powerful, well-funded individuals for what they are – self-serving, desperate and divisive.”

“A favourable postal survey result won’t stop Tony Abbott or Lyle Shelton from opposing us and trying to delegitimise our clear legal claim for equality before the law.”

“We want everyone in the community to know we won’t stop fighting for equal rights and we will support the community every step of the way on the road to equality,” Ms Foy concluded.

ENDS  

For further comment please contact Lauren Foy, Convenor NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby.

M: 0421 447 026

E: convenors@glrl.org.au

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 CALLS ON YOU TO ENROL FOR EQUALITY

The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (NSWGLRL) today welcomed the decision of the Australian Senate to reject – again – the Federal Government’s plebiscite proposal.

But Convenor of the NSWGLRL, Lauren Foy, warned that the path ahead for marriage equality supporters will require even greater energy, passion and persistence than their efforts up to now.

“We unequivocally condemn the idea of using a non-compulsory postal survey vote – a postal ‘plebiscite’ – especially when it has no power to compel MPs to vote according to the result.

“But we acknowledge a postal vote could still become reality, depending on the success of the High Court challenge announced yesterday,” Ms Foy said.

She continued, “we strongly urge members of the community to make sure your enrolment and residential address is up to date with the Australian Electoral Commission by visiting their website – and to do this NOW before the enrolment period closes.”

“You won’t receive your voting form in the mail unless you update your enrolment.”

“We hope that a postal vote doesn’t go ahead but if it does we want to make sure the community is ready. A postal vote campaign will need all of our energy and passion to bring the nation with us on the journey to equality.”

POSTAL PLEBISCITE A NEW LOW IN MORE THAN 100 YEARS OF AUSTRALIAN LAW-MAKING

Ms Foy then criticised the remarkable precedent being set by the proposed postal survey, and the failure of politicians to protect the law-making traditions and institutions of Australia.

“The current Government says the 1977 national anthem poll is a precedent for a postal plebiscite – but it’s abundantly clear this proposal is a new low in more than one hundred years of law-making in Australia.

“Subjecting the legal and civil rights of a minority group to a national opinion poll is in no way comparable to changing our national anthem,” she said.

Ms Foy said the careless destruction of the law-making traditions and institutions of Australia represents a clear and present danger to social cohesion in a diverse modern Australia.

“If a government, without blinking, can propose a multimillion dollar plebiscite on the civil rights of the LGBTI community, then what’s to stop us from holding a plebiscite or postal survey on freedom of religious expression? Or on which migrants can enter Australia? Or on the salaries of politicians?

“If this wasn’t about gay rights then have no doubt – there would be more politicians and loud- mouthed commentators speaking out against this idea, especially those who claim they defend our institutions and traditions,” Ms Foy stated.

“A multimillion dollar straw poll on the legal and civil rights of a minority is unprecedented and stomach-turning – and this situation is so twisted that marriage equality advocates are fighting harder to keep our law-making traditions than some outspoken conservatives.

“The High Court ruled the only way this can be resolved is in the Parliament, and that’s where this debate should rightfully be held,” Ms Foy concluded.

ENDS

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.