Party over here
Alex Dunkin looks into some progressive political groups actively operating in South Australia.
South Australia has a history of progressive political movements including the Dunstan Government’s move to be the first state in Australia to decriminalise homosexuality.
In recent years the struggle for equal rights for all LGBT people has taken on new fronts with the desire for same-sex marriage and equal access to artificial reproductive technology pushed to the forefront. Behind the scenes there are local political groups working to keep LGBT issues on their party’s radar.
One of the better-known grassroots political groups, Rainbow Labor, was reinvigorated in the state two years ago to create positive change for LGBT people through the South Australian Labor Party.
“Rainbow Labor is a grassroots organisation for Labor members, so to be a member of Rainbow Labor you need to be a member of the party. We work internally within the party so we take advantage of internal mechanisms which non-members might not be as familiar with or don’t have access to,” South Australia Rainbow Labor co-convener, Tom Mooney, told blaze.
“This includes things like moving motions through sub branches, state council and state convention and lobbying members in a way that perhaps other groups aren’t able to do as well. I think because of the close relationship and because we understand the internal politics of the party, we can do a lot more.
“We’ve got an executive of six people but our membership is made up of people across the party and members of parliament but it is really a grassroots organisation, we are targeting ordinary members who want to become more involved in LGBTIQ issues.”
Mooney explained that the Rainbow Labor constitution sets out four main areas in LGBT rights that they focus their lobbying on.
“We are concentrating on equal access to IVF, adoption and surrogacy, marriage equality and then there’s a kind of catch all where we are looking at discrimination against LGBTIQ people in any area,” he highlighted.
“Because South Australia is a bit behind the other states in things like parenting legislation we are more heavily focused on these areas of inequality. For example, New South Wales and Tasmania have got legislation we are yet to achieve and so because of that we are focused on more of those things.”
On these issues of LGBT rights, the Australian Greens have for a long time sought equal access under the law for all people regardless of their sexuality or gender. The Greens party grew out of grassroots movements some of which continue today with the Greens’ youth wing in South Australia.
“Our goal is to build grassroots support for the Green movement by promoting Green ideas based on our four governing pillars of ecology, participatory democracy, social justice and peace and non-violence,” spokesperson for the SA Young Greens, Yesha Joshi, told blaze.
“A major priority for SA Young Greens since 2010 has been to promote the party’s Marriage Equality campaign, supporting the bills put forward by Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and Greens MLC Tammy Franks at both federal and state levels.
“We support the work of LGBTIQ groups such as Equal Love and Australian Marriage Equality by participating in rallies, marches and events like the Queer Space Solidarity Gathering and the George Duncan Memorial Vigil.”
Both Joshi and Mooney noted passion as a driving force behind the progressive movements in South Australia and it’s also the motive behind so many people getting involved in the issues.
“It’s hard not to be passionate. Also I think that people who are active in the Labor party tend to be passionate about particular issues anyway. We are just congregating around another issue when we are already passionate people anyway,” Mooney said.
“Everyone that is involved is passionate about the issues. For the people on the executive these are issues that affect us and our friends daily.”
Joshi echoed these comments.
“The Greens are a progressive voice in Australian politics and are in a position to make change for those whose voices would otherwise go unheard. If you are passionate, progressive and want to push for human rights, you should join up to achieve progressive change,” she said.
Membership for the different grassroots groups varies depending on the party and group, particularly with Rainbow Labor where there is the requirement to be a Labor member and to identify as LGBTIQ to become a more active member.
“Anyone can be a member as long as they support the values and the constitution but in order to have a say in the day-to-day running they need to identify as LGBTIQ,” Mooney explained.
Local Liberal Party groups were contacted but had not responded prior to going to print.