Labor leadership candidates outline LGBTI support and vision
Labor leadership candidates Anthony Albanese and Bill Shorten have outlined their LGBTI credentials and support for equality and the LGBTI communities.
The statements are in response to questions put forward by the LGBTI arm of the Australian Labor Party, Rainbow Labor.
QUESTIONS FROM RAINBOW LABOR
1. Are you a supporter of marriage equality? Can you give a few points, reason or background about your support?
2. What is your position on the current exemptions provided to religious institutions under anti-discrimination legislation?
3. What engagement have you had with the LGBTI community, both within and outside of the ALP?
4. How would this influence your leadership if elected leader of the ALP? and what engagement would you propose should you be successful with Rainbow Labor?
5. Would you create a Shadow Ministry or Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Equality if you become leader? (such as occurred for LGBTI issues in Victoria) why is this important?
RESPONSE FROM BILL SHORTEN
Are you a supporter of marriage equality? Can you give a few points, reason or background about your support?
I am a strong supporter of Marriage Equality and voted in favour of Stephen Jones' Bill when it came before the House of Representatives in September 2012.
I have spent my entire working life fighting for equality in society: first as a plaintiff lawyer, then as a trade union representative and more recently as a passionate advocate of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
If elected Leader of the Parliamentary Labor Party, I want to continue to fight for those who do not have full equality in society. This includes not only victims of domestic violence and those on the Disability Support Pension but members of the Australian LGBTI community.
What is your position on the current exemptions provided to religious institutions under anti-discrimination legislation?
The private activities of religious institutions should remain exempt from anti-discrimination legislation.
However, Religious institutions in receipt of public funding to deliver services to the community should not be able to discriminate on the grounds of sexuality in the delivery of those services.
What engagement have you had with the LGBTI community, both within and outside of the ALP?
I have been an active supporter of the LGBTI community within the ALP and attended a number of Rainbow Labor events.
If elected Leader of the Parliamentary Labor Party I would like to strengthen the ties between the labour movement and LGBTI community. I think one way for us to do this is to hold regular and meaningful policy forums with LGBTI community organisations and believe it is critical to consult with the community broadly in order to craft the most relevant, and progressive policies.
How would this influence your leadership if elected leader of the ALP? and what engagement would you propose should you be successful with Rainbow Labor?
Labor must be a modern, open and inclusive party that appeals beyond our traditional base. We must bring the party together and bring more people – from diverse backgrounds – into our movement. We need more people involved and more people empowered. To be a successful and modern party we need to re-engage with our traditional supporters, but also reach out to new constituencies.
I believe Rainbow Labor can play an important role in reaching out, particularly to young people. I also acknowledge Rainbow Labor's hard work and advocacy across the Nation in the fight to achieve Marriage Equality. These achievements not only played a key part in progressing Marriage Equality at the last National Conference but made this a national issue.
I believe that Rainbow Labor provides a model for future rank and file activism within the labour movement.
Would you create a Shadow Ministry or Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Equality if you become leader? (such as occurred for LGBTI issues in Victoria) why is this important?
I believe this is an excellent idea and I will actively consider the creation of portfolio responsibilities within my team if I have the privilege of leading the Labor party.
RESPONSE FROM ANTHONY ALBANESE
[Anthony Albanese was provided the questions but chose to response in a statement below]
Labor is always at its best when we are tackling inequality and taking on discrimination, whether it be on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, religion or who someone happens to love.
The Federal Parliament should legislate for marriage equality.
It’s a reform whose time has come, and when it finally happens, people will wonder what all the fuss was about.
Extending rights to Australians previously denied them in no way diminishes the value of those rights for the rest of the community. Equally, allowing more people to marry who they love can only strengthen the institution of marriage.
As a strong supporter of my LGBTI comrades within the Party, I attended as a guest the formation meeting of Rainbow Labor and at State and National Conferences done my best to make sure our platform reflects our values of equality, fairness and inclusiveness.
As a long term advocate of change in the wider community, I have been active in the AIDS Council of NSW (ACON) and a regular participant in the annual Mardi Gras celebrations.
Then of course there are my activities in the National Parliament where I have consistently spoken and voted in favour of extending to LGBTI Australians rights previously denied to them, including when it comes to being able to marry the one they love.
In fact in 1998, I introduced into the National Parliament the first ever legislation that sought to remove discrimination against same sex couples, namely in the area of superannuation.
Ever since I became political aware and active I have been a strong advocate against intolerance, injustice and discrimination within our community. And my record over a long period of time is out there for all to judge.
With me, what you see is what you get.
Irrespective of whether I do have the honour of leading our great Party, I look forward to continuing to work with Rainbow Labor. You play a vital role in shaping a strong progressive agenda for our Party.