Advocates ready to work with whoever wins govt in SA
With results of SA's state election still in doubt, community advocates say they will work with whoever wins to advance LGBTIQ equality.
Neither side is claiming victory, with votes yet to be counted and preferences to be distributed, but it was clear that in the lower house several MPs who are long time supporters of LGBTI rights look set to retain their seats, including Labor’s Steph Key, Frances Bedford and Jay Weatherill and Liberals David Pisoni and Isobel Redmond.
The configuration of the upper house also looked set to remain much the same, with the Liberal Party winning one seat off the Xenophon Team.
This means the return of LGBTI allies such as Ian Hunter (Labor), Mark Parnell and Tammy Franks (Greens) and Michelle Lensink (Liberal).
Gay and Lesbian Health Alliance spokesperson Ian Purcell told blaze the organisation was confident it could work with whichever side of politics took office, either as a majority or minority government.
Prior to the election, the Alliance had canvassed major and minor parties about their commitment to LGBTIQ issues, as reported in blaze last issue (issue 337, March 6, 2014).
Both Labor and the Greens responses were overwhelmingly positive and since last issue went to press, the Liberal Party responded in a manner that was also favourable.
Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing, Rob Lucas wrote to the Alliance confirming the Liberal Party would follow up the implementation of the LGBQIT Inclusion Strategy 2014-16, launched recently by the Labor government.
"The Liberal Party will monitor implementation of this strategy and if issues arise will address them at the time," Lucas wrote.
Lucas added that the party was committed to non-discrimination and would accordingly “explore opportunities within the Equal Opportunity Act, in particular religious exemptions, gender identity, and disclosure of past history.”
On the issue of community management of services for the LGBTIQ community the Liberal Party response was simply "Any proposals that the Alliance advocates for will be considered through the usual budgetary process."
This contrasted strongly with the Labor Party’s response which was much more detailed in its commitment to non-government organisation.
“Where the State Government is advised that a service provider can no longer provide services it is our preference that the services are offered by another non-government provider, as is the case with services previously run by the AIDS Council of South Australia,” Ian Hunter wrote in the ALP response.
“Our main priority is ensuring that important services remain available to the LGBTIQ community. A re-elected Labor government would welcome financially viable LGBTIQ organisations tendering to run these services and we are willing to explore viable management models to underpin these services.”
On the issue of gay marriage the Liberal Party stance remains firmly it is a federal matter. Lucas did confirm, however, the party had committed to reforming the law of provocation, the so called “gay panic defence”.
Given the positive response from all sides, Purcell told blaze the Alliance would continue its work to push for LGBTIQ equality.
“Our focus is advocating on particular issues as they arise, whether it be homophobic bullying in schools, or training for aged care workers in LGBTIQ issues, for instance,” Purcell said.
“We’ll work for LGBTIQ inclusion in policy and commitments on whatever issues we think are most pressing, and work with the respective minister, whether it’s the Minister for Health or the Minister for Education or whoever.”
Purcell added it was encouraging that Lucas had also intimated a Liberal government would retain the Rainbow Advisory Council set up by the Department for Social Inclusion.
“A Marshall Liberal Government would welcome the opportunity to work with the Rainbow Advisory Council towards further equality for LGBQIT South Australians,” Lucas wrote.
“It’s important to note the Gay and Lesbian Health Alliance work as a community advocacy group, so we are not tied by any government funding,” Purcell explained.
“Whoever forms government, Labor or Liberal, majority or minority, we’ll keep working for LGBTIQ equality.”