You can find the Lobby’s submission to the Australian Government about its proposed new Religious Discrimination Bills at the link below —
Thursday 11 October 2018
The New South Wales Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby has called on NSW Parliament to overhaul its dated Anti-Discrimination Act to reflect modern community sentiment.
Co-Convenor Lauren Foy said the outdated NSW laws were now among the worst in the nation.
“As we’ve all been reminded this week by many, including the Prime Minister, this state has some of the broadest exemptions and loopholes in favour of religious discrimination in Australia today,” Foy said.
“These laws do not belong in the 21st Century. They are prejudiced, and they are archaic. Kids shouldn’t be allowed under law to be kicked out of school just for being gay, lesbian, or transgender.
“After the overwhelming public victory for equality in the 2017 national marriage survey, it’s high time for NSW anti-discrimination law to be brought into line with modern community sentiment,” Foy said.
Ms Foy noted the 2010 decision of the Court of Appeal, allowing Wesley Mission to discriminate on religious grounds against a male same-sex couple who had applied to be foster carers to children in need.
“NSW law leaves major loopholes, largely for religious organisations, to discriminate against LGBTI people in a wide variety of circumstances in their everyday life.
“From schooling, to healthcare, to adoption – NSW law leaves LGBTI people exposed to extraordinary discrimination that’s long been out of step with community sentiment,” Foy stated.
NSW was the first Australian jurisdiction to introduce anti-discrimination laws covering homosexuality in 1982. However, in the 35 years since, these laws have gone from ‘first to worst’ – they do not cover bisexuality or sex characteristics, according to Co-Convenor James Bolster.
“The NSW Anti-Discrimination Act doesn’t provide protections for bisexuals, and needs a major overhaul of definitions and application for transgender, non-binary and intersex people,” Mr Bolster said.
“Our state parliament has shown great leadership by updating vilification law this year – and we have every hope they can do so again,” Mr Bolster concluded.
The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby will continue to work with all NSW parliamentarians to ensure the modernisation of anti-discrimination law in NSW.
19 September 2018
The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (NSW) welcomes today’s announcement of a NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into gay and transgender hate crimes and the current criminal justice culture relating to such crimes. The Lobby has been involved in the collection of evidence around LGBTI hate crimes for nearly 30 years – a number of which were looked into through the Operation Parrabell report.
“This inquiry is overdue. For the heartbroken friends and family members of these individuals, who were targeted and murdered, it has been a decades long journey for justice and redress. And that journey is not over,” Co-Convenor Lauren Foy said.
The Lobby warned, however, that after years of goodwill the final release of the Operation Parrabell report was deeply disheartening and only added to the call for an Inquiry.
“The NSW Police spent pages and pages of its Parrabell report attempting to frame these violent murders as somehow ‘a part of the times’. They also ducked any obligation they had to assess the role of Police bias in the often woeful response to these crimes due to widespread social prejudice against LGBTI people.
“Murder has always been considered a crime in NSW. Social prejudice has never been an excuse for murder. This shows just how far is left to go for NSW Police in 2018,” Foy said.
The Lobby also believes there is mounting evidence NSW Police has failed to properly address its internal culture relating to LGBTI people and crimes affecting them.
“In the past year we’ve seen shocking revelations about an alleged culture of institutional homophobia within NSW Police, including bullying of employees at Newtown Local Area Command, and a failure to take cases of domestic violence seriously when reported by LGBTI people,” Foy said.
“Unfortunately this goes to the highest levels of NSW Police, with the current Commissioner involved in attempts to internally resolve the Newtown homophobia case.
“If it wasn’t for the bravery of these individuals and the work of Dowson Turco Lawyers, NSW Police would still be turning a blind eye to homophobia within its ranks,” Foy said.
While welcoming the Inquiry, the Lobby highlighted there are practical steps NSW Police can take today to improve the situation – if it has the appetite for real change.
“NSW Police doesn’t have to wait for an Inquiry to take action. We want to see ongoing education modules relating to LGBTI people as a standard of employment for every employee of NSW Police – from the Commissioner down. It is no longer good enough to have a handful of ‘trained’ GLLOs.*”
“An individual living in any corner of this state should be able to deal with any NSW Police employee with confidence, knowing they will be treated equally and respectfully.
Until that becomes a reality, NSW Police have not done enough to earn the community’s confidence and NSW Parliament, sadly, must act to make it a reality for LGBTI people.”
The Lobby acknowledges the long-running advocacy of Shayne Mallard and Penny Sharpe among many parliamentarians who supported establishing this Inquiry, as well as the vital importance of ACON’s report In Pursuit of Truth and Justice released this year.
*Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers, NSW Police.
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.
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
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
Street Light Audit in partnership with the City of Sydney and Local relationships
Development of a Pride Centre in the Inner West
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.
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.
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.
For further comment please contact Lauren Foy, Convenor NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby.
M: 0421 447 026