Page 4164 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 24 October 2018

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the range of supports the safe and inclusive schools initiative can provide, and each of these can be tailored to best meet the needs and cultural context of particular school environments. The initiative is not mandatory and schools do not need to become members. Schools simply access the support if they need it, when they need it. Importantly, it is available to all ACT schools—government and non-government—who seek to utilise it.

It is absolutely vital that the ACT laws protect members of our community from discrimination. The federal government’s religious freedom review has highlighted the possibility that our laws may require strengthening. I was distressed to hear the conversation about a person’s identity or sexuality again talked about publicly for no good reason other than what looked like a dummy spit because they had lost the marriage equality debate and Australia had said we welcome an inclusive community. The ACT outdid itself again as the most inclusive state or territory in this country.

Having that conversation publicly again would have been very hurtful for LGBTIQ people in our community, and I am deeply saddened for them because of that. I am keen to ensure our laws are strengthened, particularly if the federal government moves to enshrine or expand discrimination in the provision of school education. It is completely unacceptable; ACT Labor does not accept that at all.

All members of this Assembly should be supporting this important motion today. I thank everybody who has spoken on it, particularly Chief Minister Andrew Barr, who has led this work on equality for LGBTIQ Canberrans for so many years now. I thank him and recognise the difficulties and personal challenges that have come from his work in that space. I thank Ms Orr for giving us the chance to talk about and reflect on the work that has already happened and the work that needs to continue to bring equality for all people in our community.

MS ORR (Yerrabi) (12.11), in reply: Thank you to all my colleagues in the Assembly who have spoken in support of the motion. I am a little disappointed that we did not have all members of the Assembly stand up to support the notion that children and teachers are not discriminated against, especially given the earlier motion asking for teachers to be supported, when some quite passionate words were spoken by those opposite.

Mr Coe may view this motion as premature, but I note that discrimination is not simply about if it does or does not happen; it is also about whether it can happen. We need to close any loopholes that allow for discrimination so that members of our community feel safe and included. As to the implied idea that we cannot make a considered view at this time, it is fair to say that the considered view of me, my colleagues in the ACT Labor Party and the ACT Labor-Greens government, as well as the Canberra community, is that our community should be free of discrimination full stop. I hope all members of this Assembly also share this view and will support the motion today. I do not believe it is untimely; it is always timely to stand up against discrimination.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Sitting suspended from 12.13 to 2.30 pm.

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