Australia’s three largest political parties have not and will not deliver for the nation’s LGBTI community, writes Rodney Croome.
Imagine how a closeted gay teenager in Bankstown felt the day the postal survey result was announced in November 2017.
While LGBTI people around the nation rejoiced at a decisive national Yes vote, he would have felt more desperate than ever.
The survey showed that three out of every four people in his electorate of Blaxland were against his right to have the same opportunities in life as everyone else, his right to be treated as their equal.
Adding to his desperation was uncertainty about if and how the cold, hard stats of hostility would ever change.
This federal election was an opportunity for the nation to send that young man the message that we have not forgotten or forsaken him. And we have done anything but.
Moderates in the Liberal Party are crowing about achieving marriage equality on the back of a postal survey that reminded our gay teenager just how detested he is by those around him.
Don’t get me wrong, marriage equality was a reform for the ages. But for those LGBTI kids who fell and were trampled in Australia’s final mad dash to allow same-sex couples to marry, Liberal moderates should be extending a helpful policy hand.
To their credit they have wrested $3 million in LGBTI mental health funding. But apart from that there are virtually no specific policy solutions to the problems these kids still face.
Worse, Liberal hard-liners hoping to win Western Sydney seats like the one our teenager lives in are continuing to fight the No campaign that so wrecked his hopes.
They continue to rail against “gender fluidity” and “Safe Schools” like sadists who have inflicted a wound and then won’t let it heal.
At every opportunity, they continue to portray LGBTI equality as some kind of threat to children, not understanding that it is precisely that kind of rhetoric that is the real threat.
The Liberals will spend a large part of that $3 million undoing the damage inflicted by their own MPs.
No less disappointing, Labor and the Greens have also abandoned our young gay man in Western Sydney.
In what looks like a naked act of pink-barrelling, Labor has committed $10 million to a Pride Centre and $600,000 to a radio station in inner-city Melbourne that will serve an already well-serviced LGBTI community.
LGBTI organisations across the rest of the nation will be left to fight over a limited number of $100,000-per-annum grants.
That $10 million could make a real difference to young LGBTI people like our Bankstown teenager. It could help them live openly, happily and equally in the communities that have shaped who they are. Instead, Labor’s solution is “move to Melbourne”.
The Greens, our teenager’s final hope, have also overlooked him.
They say they would allocate $70 million to LGBTI issues should they win Government.
But they have no election policy on curbing anti-LGBTI hate speech, no detailed policy on making his school safer, and, like Labor, no concrete proposal to address systemic prejudice in communities like his.
The Greens won’t even allow our gay teenager to give blood once he is old enough because they support the blanket ban on blood donation by sexually-active gay men giving blood, despite that ban being unnecessary and deeply stigmatising.
Our closeted gay teenager is ground zero for anti-LGBTI prejudice and discrimination in Australia.
Every proposal to improve the lives of LGBTI Australia should begin and end with people like him.
Instead, he has been left out while the parties continue to advance and retreat over the muddy battlefields of the postal survey.
So, who will defend him, and all the young LGBTI people of Bankstown and beyond?
Who will build policies for the most vulnerable?
The answer is, they will.
If our gay teenager survives, and if his painful experiences propel him in to public life, it will be he who tells the truth about who inflicted that pain and who failed to foster inclusion in its place.
It will be LGBTI voices from western Sydney, regional Queensland and all those places where the postal survey had a dreadful impact who bring much-needed compassion, courage and common sense to the LGBTI policy-making of the major parties.
It will be those we would not redeem who will redeem us.
For a summary of Liberal, Labor and Green LGBTI 2019 federal election policies you can go here.
For a more detailed analysis of Labor and Green 2019 policies go here.
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