Page 4151 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 24 October 2018

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The Canberra community does not support discriminating against the LGBTIQ community, and we as their representatives must also stand against it. We know LGBTIQ communities here and around the world have endured significant emotional stress and trauma over many decades. I believe it is important to recognise that, while many of us here today stand up and advocate for LGBTIQ Canberrans, this is not an easy debate for many of those people to listen to.

We are all aware of the harm caused to LGBTIQ Australians as a result of the politicisation of the marriage equality postal survey last year. Young people across the country found themselves coming to terms with their identity and sexuality in the midst of a debate about whether they should be accepted based on the person they love or may love in the future. Other LGBTIQ people were subjected to repeated judgement and were forced to prove why their love is equal to everyone else’s.

Despite the negativity surrounding the postal survey Canberrans made sure their voices were heard—an incredible 74 per cent of Canberrans recognised that all love is equal and voted yes for equality.

Another example of Canberrans displaying pride and respect for the LGBTIQ community can be found in the petition I tabled in the Assembly in November 2017 where 1,483 Canberrans overwhelmingly supported schools respecting, welcoming and celebrating diversity and encouraging children to be themselves. Those petitioners called on the Assembly to support the government’s efforts to ensure all children are safe and supported at any school.

Canberrans have shown time and again that they value an inclusive and diverse community, so today members should represent their views and support this motion that seeks to remove any discrimination against Canberra’s LGBTIQ students and teachers that exists within the law.

I am proud to be part of a Labor government that advocates for the rights of the LGBTIQ community by creating an inclusive and progressive city for all of us to call home. ACT Labor has a strong track record of advocating for and protecting the rights of the LGBTIQ community through legislating marriage equality in 2013; establishing an office of LGBTIQ affairs; establishing an ACT LGBTIQ ministerial advisory council; supporting teachers and families to foster safe and inclusive school environments; and most recently our strong 2018-19 ACT budget commitment of $2.6 million over four years for programs and grants to support the Canberra LGBTIQ community.

However, this motion relates to one area where we need to make an important change. In a city that prides itself on being Australia’s most inclusive, we as members need to ensure that ACT law protects Canberrans from discrimination in our schools. Students should not face discrimination based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics. Canberra’s schools must be free of discrimination in all forms. The potential for discrimination towards LGBTIQ students as a result of our existing laws does not provide a guarantee to families and the wider community that our schools will always be safe and inclusive environments.

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