Queenslanders form new lobby group for equality
Brisbane’s New Farm Park became a national focus for equal rights on the weekend as a new group was launched to counter what is seen as growing conservatism in Queensland.
Queenslanders for Equality will combine the forces of various community groups and people of all political persuasions “to take on the Newman Government's focus on taking rights away from gay and lesbian Queenslanders”.
Among those gathered at the park on Sunday were Labor Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk, Labor MP Jackie Trad, PFLAG’s Shelley Argent, farmer and lobbyist David Graham, psychologist Paul Martin, family lawyer Stephen Page and Rev. Ray Richmond from the West End Uniting Church.
They were were joined by Australian Marriage Equality convenor Alex Greenwich, who called on sympathetic federal LNP members to show their support for marriage equality in Canberra.
“The eyes of the nation are on Queensland,” Greenwich said. “Australians from coast to coast are concerned that rights are being repealed from a contributing part of the Queensland community."
Greenwich said shock at the unequal treatment of LGBTI Queenslanders would be turned into action by the new lobby group.
“The challenge for the Newman Government is to treat gay and lesbian Queenslanders as equal citizens. They pay taxes, they contribute to the community and they shouldn’t have to face the prospect of having further rights taken away from them.”
Farmer and lobbyist Dave Graham said he believes the government is running counter to its core values by withholding rights associated with family life.
“All of these laws seem to be out there to socially engineer what it is we have built in this great state,” Graham said. “Why would this government, which believes in families, take away the rights that have been given to families?
“Legislation empowers us to be who we really are. To be able to tell my husband he’s my husband, to walk in my own community as a married couple, is essential for us."
Reverend Ray Richmond described the state-sanctioned discrimination against LGBTI people as “a strange and unexpected backward step" by "a very small, conservative section of the Queensland community”.
“It is fundamentally opposed to what we understand is the message of Jesus, which has to do with equality and acceptance,” Richmond said.
In particular, Queenslanders for Equality will campaign for the protection of current surrogacy laws and draw attention to an official petition calling on these laws to be protected.
Flagged changes to the surrogacy laws were addressed by lawyer Stephen Page, who said the Newman Government was proposing that in Queensland gay and lesbian people, single women and single men should no longer be entitled to be parents. “This is an example of the government playing God,” Page said.
“This is a case where the government is proposing that lesbian co-mothers should no longer be recognised on the birth certificate. Queensland in this case is moving backwards. Out of our eight states and territories in the Commonwealth [they] all recognise lesbian co-parents, but for some reason Queensland lesbians are different.”
Find out more about the new group here: queenslandersforequality.com