Page 444 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 15 February 2017
I note Mr Hanson’s comments yesterday supporting a divisive and traumatic plebiscite on marriage equality. I am heartened by those opposite who reject discrimination and division. I encourage them to denounce the comments of their friends, not in whispers, but with the courage of true conviction. Whilst I would be most satisfied to hear them reject hatred in the name of solidarity and egalitarianism, to do so in using their own principles of liberalism and freedom would suffice.
Madam Speaker, this is where I want to steer my contribution. I want to discuss the principles that underpin our determination in pursuing equality for our gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer brothers and sisters. So what are these principles I speak of? Why is this government so strong, not just on the rhetoric of equality but on the delivery? It is because we recognise that in-built structural inequality can have significant consequences for progress towards legal and economic equality.
If we assume people with different means have equal rights and access to the law, the person with lesser means, the person with less money, less education or less confidence will often lose. What we in government believe, and what I believe, is that it is about ensuring that those with lesser means, lesser education and less confidence are already equal. This is where we differ in principles and values. We will never concede that increasingly progressive social norms alone will deliver true equality. We will not concede that just because we stamp out discrimination in the workplace our goal of delivering fairness for sexually diverse members of our community has been achieved; because presently, we know we still have a road to travel. By continuing to deny marriage to some in our community, we would be consigning them to a category of “almost equal” and telling them to be happy with it. That is not good enough. It is a scam. Labor has opposed the creation of second-class citizens for over a century and we are not going to give up now. The ACT government is one that recognises and values human rights.
However, we know these rights do not just spontaneously appear. Rather, they come about because governments recognise entrenched injustice, taking concrete steps to deliver true equality for all. We are guided in this fight by the principles of solidarity and progress. There is a saying in the union movement “touch one, touch all”. To me, this conveys the sense of solidarity we in the Barr government have with the LGBTIQ community and the marriage equality campaign. We are guided by solidarity because we know that rights denied to anyone in our community makes us all weaker. A society is not measured by its strongest but by the way it treats its most vulnerable.
We recognise that same-sex relationships, however loving, healthy and rewarding, and despite all the statements by those across the lake, will never truly be equal until they are able to equally express their love through marriage. We also recognise that irrespective of progressive social norms, true progress only evolves when governments lead. We are proud of our leadership record. We have used these principles to lead and deliver genuine progress across our community. By examining our principles we can express the motivations behind the achievements of the past but also continue to deliver for our communities into the future.