What are the parties promising for LGBTIQ people?

The Australian Federal Election is happening this weekend. It’s time to get out, enjoy your democracy sausage, and decide who you want to be in power for the next three years.

Here is your brief guide on where the major parties stand on the big issues facing LGBT+ people. 

The two big issues
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The last term of Government has been dominated by debate on two big issues: marriage equality and the Safe Schools program.

On same-sex marriage, the big parties are clearly split. The Coalition has promised a marriage plebiscite, which will occur within 100 days of the election. This plebiscite would not be legally binding, with legislation still needing to pass Parliament following the vote. Malcolm Turnbull confirmed earlier this week that when this legislation appears Coalition MPs will not be bound by the result of the plebiscite, instead having a ‘conscience vote’ on the issue. 

Meanwhile, the ALP and Greens oppose the plebiscite, arguing that Parliament should legislate for marriage equality as soon as possible. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has promised a Parliamentary vote within 100 days, meaning that marriage equality will be high on the agenda directly following the election, regardless of the outcome.

Check out our interactive map of federal parliament showing which Australian federal parliamentarians oppose or support marriage equality here.

Safe Schools has become a big issue in recent months following a concerted attack against the program from conservative forces. Initially funded nationally by the previous Labor Government, this year the Coalition announced significant changes to the program. These changes included restricting the program to high school students and requiring parent permission for students to participate. Both the ALP and Greens oppose these moves; the ALP promises to continue to support the program and the Greens have proposed an increase in national funding from $2 million to $8 million annually.

While the differing positions on these issues are clear, beyond this things get a little blurrier. The parties not only diverge on their views on LGBTQIA+ issues but also on what they’re even talking about. 

The Coalition
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A search through the Coalition’s ‘election plan’ and their website shows no references to LGBTQIA+ issues or people. The Coalition has, however, responded to the Rainbow Votes Survey on LGBT+ issues — a survey developed by a collective of LGBT+ groups in an attempt to understand the different policies of the major parties in the lead up to the election.

In their response, the Coalition makes a commitment to “ensuring that rights of LGBTI people are protected and that they can live free from discrimination.” Their response survey includes commitments to implementing the national HIV and LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care strategies, and to continue funding of LGBTIQ health services MindOUT! and QWire.

On gender identity, however, the Coalition stated they had “no plans to amend the PBS availability of testosterone where the use is medically indicated,” nor plans “to change the 2013 Australian Government Guidelines for the Recognition of Sex and Gender.” These are issues that have both been of significant contention for trans* and intersex individuals who still face extreme costs and difficulties in receiving medical access.

According to survey makers, the Coalition also failed to provide adequate responses or commitments in a number of areas, including on LGBT+ representation, the development of specific LGBT+ data and research to guide policy, and on specific policies covering LGBT+ health, ageing and youth. 

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The ALP
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The ALP has centred its election campaign around its ‘100 positive policies’. Within these 100 policies there are three that relate specifically to LGBTQIA+ people. Two of these are regarding marriage equality; getting rid of the plebiscite and legislating for marriage equality within 100 days of office. In addition to this, the ALP have promised that if elected they will “appoint a permanent, dedicated full-time LGBTI Discrimination Commissioner.” Labor describes this as a “new champion for LGBTI rights” and while short on detail, it would likely be based on the Gender and Sexuality Commissioner that was recently appointed by the Labor Government in Victoria.

The ALP also has a comprehensive National Platform, which includes numerous policies for LGBT+ people. Some notable points from the national platforms includes statements that: "cost should not be a barrier" for people accessing gender affirmation surgery, intersex people should be “able to exercise autonomy regarding sex/gender markers” and that LGBT+ refugees and asylum seekers will not be detained, processed or resettled in countries which criminalise homosexuality. The platform also commits to supporting the provision of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) in order to reduce HIV transmissions.

Like the Coalition, the ALP also completed the Rainbow Votes Survey on LGBT+ issues, receiving high marks in areas such as relationship recognition, equality and non discrimination, but struggled in some areas of LGBT+ engagement and representation, and LGBT+ health and ageing. 

The Greens
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The Greens commitments for LGBTIQIA+ people are centred around their ‘plan for inclusive communities’.

The centrepiece of this plan is a commitment of $8.7 million for the provision of PrEP (a HIV prevention method) over the next two years. This includes $7.2 million to support the personal importation of the drug for 3,000 people over two years, covering patients until the drug is subsidised under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. On top of this, the party has also committed $1.5 million “for administration and support for community organisations to assist clients with the personal importation of the drug.”

The Greens election plan also has a number of other commitments, including: abolishing exemptions for religious organisations from our anti-discrimination legislation, removing bureaucratic processes for young transgender and gender diverse people who want to access hormone treatment, ending offshore detention for asylum seekers (including LGBT+ people), and ensuring the rights of intersex people to bodily integrity, including deferring any medical intervention for children until the child is able to give full and informed consent.

The Greens also filled out the Rainbow Votes Survey, receiving the highest relative marks of the three big parties. The survey, however, noted some areas missing from the Greens policy, particularly in relation to LGBT+ people, faith and culture. 

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Now go and vote
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This snapshot covers what has been publicly announced, what sits on party websites, and survey responses. If you want to understand more make sure you check out the Rainbow Votes Survey, where you can get a lot more information. Hopefully this leaves you feeling a little more confident about where the parties stand on LGBTQIA+ rights this year.