Page 449 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 15 February 2017
to the students themselves is that this government will support you in our education system to give you the opportunities to achieve. That is what we want in this community. We want safe school environments, and this government is going to stand up for them and put our money where our mouth is.
This program is not about turning the world on its head; it is about allowing children to attend school without the fear of bullying and harassment. Day-to-day interactions at school have a great impact on young people’s self-worth, their confidence and their outlook on life. Despite the steps being taken by Neanderthal conservatives to undermine this program and to undermine education opportunities for LGBTI students, we will stand up against that and ensure that our schools are safe schools.
The government has established, an Office for LGBTIQ Affairs that has responsibility to coordinate and support the government’s promotion of Canberra as Australia’s friendliest city for LGBTIQ people. It will coordinate the delivery of additional legislative reforms to protect and support the rights, particularly of young LGBTIQ people; promote and engage with the community in inclusive events; improve support services to meet the demand for additional support amongst the community, particularly in areas of aged care and access to mental health services; and work closely with the ministerial advisory council on these projects.
I am very proud that yesterday the government brought forward and the Assembly passed amendments to recognise overseas and interstate same-sex marriages and relationships. These amendments fall short of our goal for marriage equality in Australia, but the mutual recognition of these relationships is an important step in the right direction.
I hear many people say they have had enough of this debate and had enough of talking about this issue. I agree with them. I have had enough of talking about it as well. But what I have had even more than enough of is the discrimination and the situation that is represented through the political gridlock we see in this country at this time. It is clear that a majority of parliamentarians comprising members of all political parties represented in the Australian parliament support this change. The fact that they have got there quite a lot later than the rest of the Australian population is a significant frustration, but it is clear that there is a majority of members in both the House of Representatives and the Senate who, if given the opportunity, would vote to change the law.
I agree with the Deputy Chief Minister: the time will come. Those who vote against it at that time will be judged by history. Some will do so for reasons of strong religious conviction, others will do so out of political opportunism. I think history might judge those people more harshly, but, nonetheless, this debate is moving and moving fast in this country. We will continue to talk about these issues because they matter to thousands and thousands of Canberrans.
It is often raised with me that, “Oh, well, it’s only a minority of people who are in same-sex relationships,” and that is true. But those people have brothers and sisters, parents, children, aunts and uncles, friends, all of whom support their rights and their