Katter says Baillieu Government 'giving with one hand while taking away with the other'
MELBOURNE: Victorian Australian Marriage Equality convenor and recent Fitzroy ALP branch recruit Carl Katter claims the Baillieu Government’s amending of the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act allowing faith based organisations to discriminate on the grounds of sexuality and gender difference and its recently announced intention to remove historic gay sex convictions points to an inconsistency of support for LGBT issues.
Last month Member for Prahran, Clem Newton-Brown, told MCV he was working on proposals for the Attorney-General for legislation removing convictions for consensual gay sex prior to 1981, when it was decriminalised in Victoria.
Last week, Katter (pictured) issued a statement saying that, while applauding Newton-Brown’s “correcting past injustices”, “he voted not once, but twice, to allow religious organisations the right to discriminate against the very same people”.
“These men may have their criminal records corrected, yet thanks to Newton-Brown and the Baillieu Government these men will still face discrimination by faith based organisations.
Katter said the Baillieu Government “appears to be giving with one hand while taking away with the other”.
“The member for Prahran must put his vote where his mouth is. If Clem Newton-Brown really did support the lesbian and gay community then why did he support his government’s legislation to allow discrimination against this vulnerable community?”
Newton-Brown told MCV it was “disappointing” Katter chooses to “play politics rather than working together for the GLBTI community”.
Newton-Brown said Labor governments in every state refused to expunge the criminal convictions, while the Baillieu Government is the first to seriously consider this issue.
Newton-Brown said he will conduct further consultation before presenting a proposal to the Attorney-General.
“I would welcome Mr Katter’s support and contribution rather than lobbing cheap political shots at me for the benefit of his new political career,” Newton-Brown said.
“As Mr Katter should be aware, the Equal Opportunity legislation in Victoria has, since its inception, set out numerous examples of where discrimination can be lawful. For example, a swimming pool may want to hold a women only session, or a counselling service for LGBTI people may wish to discriminate to only employ LGBTI counsellors, or a pub may wish to discriminate to only allow entry to gay men, or a Jewish school may wish to employ Jewish staff.
“All of these examples are legitimate under the Equal Opportunity legislation.
“Does Mr Katter object, for example, to the Sircuit Bar being permitted by VCAT to exclude women on a regular basis?