Page 476 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 15 February 2017

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MR BARR: I thank Mr Steel for the question. It is very clear that the ACT government leads the nation—in fact, in many instances it leads the world—in being one of the most inclusive communities through the delivery of many clear, comprehensive and progressive policies for this city. We have established an office of LGBTIQ affairs within my directorate, with the responsibility to coordinate and support the government’s projects and policies and to promote Canberra as Australia’s friendliest city for LGBTIQ people.

The government brought forward and the Assembly passed amendments yesterday to the Civil Unions Act to improve the recognition of overseas same-sex relationships as civil unions in the territory. Corresponding with this first sitting week of the Assembly and the renewed national debate about marriage equality, rainbow flags are flying throughout the city to celebrate equality and to celebrate our commitment to one Canberra. The government continues to strongly support marriage equality legislation, true marriage equality legislation, being progressed through the Australian parliament.

Earlier this year we made a submission to the Senate Select Committee on the Exposure Draft of the Marriage Amendment (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill. We have concerns about this bill because of its overly broad exemptions to establish sex and gender discrimination protections. We asked the committee to consider marriage equality law reform as an inclusive process that will maintain existing discrimination protections in legislation. The ACT government will continue to support our local community whilst we lead the fight for true marriage equality in this country.

MR STEEL: Chief Minister, can you elaborate on the significance of the flags being flown above our city this week?

MR BARR: During this first sitting week the government is taking the opportunity to emphatically emphasise our commitment to making Canberra an even more inclusive and welcoming city. We do this because it is symbolically important. We do this because it is a clear and fundamental statement of our values; values we have taken to every election in which I have stood for the Australian Labor Party in this city, values that are shared by every progressive member on this side of the chamber. A city that celebrates its diversity, that respects and protects human rights and that allows every citizen to reach their full potential is a strong city. It is a city worth living in and it is a city that people want to live in.

That is what this city is and that is what this city will increasingly represent in this nation and in the world. We will lead that. We will lead it against conservative opponents, some of whom sit in this chamber. We will proudly, every single day, as progressive representatives in this Assembly stand up for what we believe in. We will make those values clear and support all Canberrans, particularly LGBTI Canberrans, who have over the years and years of this city’s history been discriminated against and excluded, in our laws, in our public places and in our lives. That has dramatically ended with law reform in this place, but this campaign continues until we win. Let us be clear: it continues until we win. I thank everyone with a good heart who supports

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