Articles

An Historic Week for LGBT Rights, Nationwide

In Politics: Genral, Politics: Marriage Equality, Politics: Queensland, Politics: Rallies & Protests on December 3, 2011 by mjwill91

The last week has been a fairly monumental week for LGBT rights, nationwide. Earlier this week we saw the Queensland Legislative Assembly pass the Civil Partnerships Bill 2011, a bill allowing for and recognising the validity of same sex relationships. We also saw today the Australian Labor Party officially changing it’s position on same sex marriage, adding it to their party platform.

In a sitting of the Legislative Assembly than ran late into the night, the views of numerous MPs from both sides of the political divide were heard, along with the views of their constituents. The bill passed at 11:10PM with 47 votes (46 Labor MPs and Independent MP Peter Wellington) to 40.

Premier Bligh & Dep. Premier Fraser address a pro-equality rally outside the QLD Legislative Assembly. Photo: Daniel Hurst

Deputy Premier Andrew Fraser said that the Civil Partnerships Bill struck a blow against the discrimination that same sex couples had faced in the path, calling it a “momentous occasion for civil rights in this state”, as Queensland moved into line with Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.

In a move considered surprising given his previous vocal support for marriage equality, the non-sitting, de facto leader of the Liberal National Party & former Lord Mayor of Brisbane; Campbell Newman did not allow Liberal National Members a conscience vote on the issue, which raises the question, “what does our alternative Premier actually believe?” or better yet “can we trust what Campbell Newman says?”.

For a little bit of added poignancy, the Civil Partnerships Bill 2011 passed the Legislative Assembly exactly 21 years to the day that Queensland decriminalised homosexuality – how far we’ve come in such a short stretch of time.

Of course, that isn’t the end of the changes that we’ve seen over the last week, with the Federal Labor Party officially changing it’s position on same sex marriage today at the Labor National Conference- unfortunately, as I predicted several months ago, the Prime Minister has, while allowing the party platform to change, has essentially scuppered the debate by allowing it to go to a conscience vote, doomed to fail on the floor of our Parliament.

Senator Wong & ACT Dep. Chief Minister Barr receive pro-Marriage equality petition from GetUp!'s Simon Sheik // Picture: Renee Nowytarger

In October I suggested that the Prime Minister might circumvent the National Conference alltogether, allowing a conscience vote to get shot down before we got to today, effectively “washing her hands” of the issue before it could go to a vote. Well, I wasn’t exactly correct there, but I wasn’t too far off.

By allowing a conscience vote, Julia Gillard; puppet of the right faction, will have her own views on marriage equality unchallenged. A conscience vote in the House of Representatives will not pass… even if Tony Abbott allows a conscience vote (which he won’t, regardless of the Liberal Party being a “broad church”) any amendment to the Marriage Act will not pass.

So. The Prime Minister & the Labor Party can bask in the glory of being a “progressive party”, without being progressive at all. Brilliant… and completely expected as well.

So now we wait. Stephen Jones, ALP MP will be putting up a private members bill at the start of the next sitting period of Parliament – which means another month or so before marriage equality is shot down in flames in the Parliament.

Don’t get me wrong. Today has been a monumental day in the history of LGBT rights in Australia. It’s just, I don’t think any of us should expect anything to come out of it any time soon.

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