Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 17 August 2017) . . Page.. 2909 ..
One in five lesbian, gay or bisexual Australians currently experience depression. This is more than triple the national rate. One in three from this community experiences an anxiety-related condition. This is why the ACT government are committed to ensuring that we are supporting and protecting our young people as they navigate their way through the difficult stage of adolescence in sometimes, unfortunately, an exclusionary world. It is why the ACT government has ensured that the safe schools program will continue to be available for students in schools in the ACT. The ACT government will not be changing our mind about that and we will do everything that we can to protect young people and to support them through what is going to be a difficult time, no matter how many calls for a respectful debate are made.
Up to 80 per cent of LGBTI teens have experienced homophobic language at school and one-quarter have experienced physical abuse at school, according to some studies. The safe schools program will support children through this and support their friends, their family and the school communities through what is going to be a very difficult time, as I have said. It is deeply saddening. It is deeply saddening how this debate must be making young people feel right now. No-one should have to hide their sexuality. They should not have to apologise.
Today all of us in the ACT government support a more equal and inclusive world and we send a very strong message, a very clear message, to young people and to all people in our community that we are here and we will fight until all are equal. Part of the ACT government’s commitment to Canberra, socially and culturally, is that we will be an even more inclusive community that celebrates our diversity and supports LGBTIQ Canberrans in the ACT and across this country. I support the motion brought on by the Chief Minister today.
MR PARTON (Brindabella) (12.26): I rise to speak in favour of the amendment put forward by Mr Coe. I will be voting yes for marriage equality in the postal plebiscite. I will be voting yes because I believe it is time for this change. I have had, certainly as a broadcaster, many, many conversations with the Mr Steels and the Mr Barrs of the world. When I heard Mr Steel’s speech, many of those conversations echoed in my head.
I am appalled, not so much today but over a period, that this government often wishes to use the same-sex marriage issue as a political football. When the Chief Minister spoke, he said that he knows that his entire team will be voting yes because he knows that they are good people. Can I say to people in the ACT community: if you wish to vote no, that does not mean that you are a bad person. You have the right to vote no.
For the Australian people and for the people of Canberra and certainly for this party, it is a matter of conscience. The people of Canberra should be voting based on what their hearts tell them to do. They should not be bullied or shamed into changing their position by a government elected to represent the entire community. This is not the business of government; this is not the way that ratepayers’ money should be spent.
How do you explain to a staunch Catholic from Fadden whose budget is buckling under the weight of spiralling rates, how do you explain to those individuals, to the