Page 2904 - Week 08 - Thursday, 17 August 2017

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angry because of the failure of leadership from our federal government that has led to this point, because I feel it too. I know that you have had it with this weak and gutless Prime Minister caving in to the right wing of his Liberal Party. I know that participating in this campaign may be degrading for you. I know that you have been waiting for this for too long, some of you for decades. I do not blame you if your optimism has faded. Some of you have fought your whole life just to be yourselves. I know that you do not need anyone—not your neighbour next door, Tony Abbott or Alistair Coe—to tell you that your relationship is genuine, because it is. But do not boycott this campaign. To do so would let the bullies win. That is what they want. We must rise up again to get this done. It is too important for the generations that come after us.

And to young people across the ACT and in the LGBTIQ community I say this: this is your campaign, your opportunity to have your say and make a historic change once in a lifetime. I know that you have been turned off by the politics of fear and chaos that has beset our federal government. But this is your opportunity to make yourself heard when you have not been heard by your politicians. We will be driven by your optimism and your energy, and we will stand beside you in support in this campaign for marriage equality.

It is not going to be an easy campaign ahead. We said this would be divisive and unnecessary, and it has been, dredging up the bigotry of some people who simply hate people based on their sexuality, where the issue of marriage law is an afterthought. It did not have to be this way, but it was the wish of the Prime Minister. The absence of leadership has given licence to those who hate on matters of race, sexuality and gender, and Malcolm Turnbull has opened the door to a cruel campaign against people from the LGBTIQ community.

It took 30 minutes on Friday when I was handing out stickers down at Cooleman Court for an elderly man to come up to me and say some things so deeply cruel about gay people that they cannot be repeated in this chamber, and it had nothing to do with marriage. It also did not take long for the Liberals’ Kevin Andrews on Sky News to suggest that people in same-sex relationships are no more than affectionate friends akin to a class of relationship that he has with his cycling mates. We have already seen the red herring attacks on the children of LGBTI people, which has nothing to do with marriage because they already have children and they are doing fine.

These things are not respectful debate, certainly not the respectful debate that Mr Coe has called for today. They are totally offensive to the people in our community and they must be called out at every opportunity.

I was told some sage advice at the beginning of my first political campaign—put on your invisible armour. As a politician I am pretty good at it. But I am concerned about young teenagers out there who have not come out of the closet, who are not confident about their identity and who are seeing the hateful speech that surrounds this postal survey. I am concerned about the people who, from all walks of life, are coming forward to support this campaign and engaging in the political process for the first time and who may be more vulnerable. Every person in the LGBTIQ community is going to need to wear their armour for this campaign.

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