We know there’s really high risks of mental health and high risks of youth suicide, particularly for LGBTI people in rural Australia, so it’s important that we continue to support counseling groups and support groups for those areas. Across Australia I think we have a number of challenges still facing us. Obviously, Australia has not embraced marriage equality yet, and that’s something I continue to push in our Parliament. Also, there’s a number of anti-discrimination laws that need improvement. In New South Wales, you can be expelled for being gay, or you can be fired as being a teacher if you’re gay. I’m hoping to change those things. Generally I think Australians love the LGBTI community, but there’s still a lot of work to do, both in the community and in the Parliaments.
I got into politics out of the marriage equality campaign. I led the marriage equality campaign here in Australia for about five years. Then an opportunity came up where I could run for state Parliament, with the endorsement of my predecessor, the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, and do so as an Independent. So I’m really proud to represent an electorate which has one of the highest LGBTI populations, the most same sex couples, and is exciting, diverse, and very accepting of all types of people.
I think it’s really important to be out in public office. I’m able to speak from first hand experience, in the Parliament about how discrimination affects me, and affects my community. We’re also able to be role models for people and hope that people can always be true to themselves in whatever field they’re in. And if someone in public office and in the public eye can be out and proud, it helps people that could be working in a bank or in a library or in a butcher—or in any other profession, to know that it is also OK for them to be out and proud in their workplace.
For me one of my proudest recent accomplishments is getting overseas same-sex marriages recognized in New South Wales law (that’s the state that I sit in the Parliament) and continuing to be a voice of our community in the Parliament.
I think for those people across the world in countries where they’re not as lucky as we are here in Australia, where they do face regular stigma and regular discrimination, the message I would say is definitely it get’s better. And I hope places like Australia, the US, Canada, Argentina and other countries can give hope that things will change.”
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