OUR POLICY PLATFORM

Purpose

The Australian Equality party (AEP) is committed to changing the Australian political landscape by upholding the values of fairness, equality and human rights. From this commitment we aim to provide lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) people and their families with a political voice.

Policy Development Process

The following policy areas have been identified by the AEP as key domains for progressive policy supporting LGBTIQ inclusion and human rights in Australia. Each policy statement has been developed following extensive consultation and engagement with community members and experts in relevant fields. Policies have been developed by the AEP policy team and ratified by the AEP committee. While every effort has been made to seek appropriate representation from the various segments of the LGBTIQ community, the AEP acknowledges that policy development is continuous. As such, the AEP welcomes feedback and is keen to foster an environment of open dialogue.

Our Values

The AEP will work to ensure that the needs of all Australians, in a context of diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status, are reflected in the current political landscape. All policies will be anchored in the following three values and will relate to all Australians.

Self-determination for all people in a context of individual freedoms, needs and wants, through legislation and a dedicated charter of human rights.

A just Australia that protects all people from discrimination, inequality and the abuse of power in all spheres of life.

The ability of all Australians to choose and pursue the same opportunities as others without experiencing significantly more barriers than any other person.

LGBTIQ INCLUSION & HUMAN RIGHTS

Contents

  1. Protecting Human Rights through a Federal Human Rights Charter.
  2. Ensuring government responsibility for LGBTIQ Australians.
  3. Attaining marriage equality.
  4. Protecting LGBTIQ Australians from discrimination.
  5. Ensuring equality in families, surrogacy and adoption.
  6. LGBTIQ partner and family violence.
  7. Introducing a human rights approach to LGBTIQ immigration, refugees and asylum seekers.
  8. Advocating for LGBTIQ people in foreign policy and development.
  9. Delivering equitable education outcomes for LGBTIQ Australians.
  10. Ensuring equality for bisexual, trans and intersex Australians.
  11. Ensuring the health and wellbeing of LGBTIQ Australians.
  12. Wellbeing of older LGBTIQ Australians.
  13. Supporting equality for LGBTIQ Australians with a disability.
  14. Assisting LGBTIQ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities.
  15. LGBTIQ Australians in the sex industry.
  16. Promoting LGBTIQ inclusion in local government and community, sport and the arts.
  17. Empowering LGBTIQ Australians in Workplace and Business.
  18. Creating opportunities for LGBTIQ Australians in rural and regional communities.
  19. Protecting LGBTIQ Australians from the ex-gay movement and gay conversion therapy.
  20. Creating an inclusive culture in media and communications.
  21. Improving outcomes for LGBTIQ Australians in justice, police and corrections systems.
  22. Honouring the dignity, successes, historical contributions and experience of LGBTIQ Australians.
  23. Ensuring fairness and equality for Australian women.

 

1. Protecting Human Rights through a Federal Human Rights Charter

a. The establishment of a legislative Human Rights Charter to protect the inalienable and fundamental set of rights intrinsic to every person, regardless of sex, gender, age, sexual orientation, intersex status, ethnicity, political opinion, social group, nationality or religious affiliation, modeled upon the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Charters in other jurisdictions.

b. Investigation into the suitability of a constitutional Human Rights Charter.

c. Incorporation of the 2006 Yogyakarta Principles (the application of human rights law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) into this Human Rights Charter.

↑ Back to Top

 

2. Ensuring government responsibility for LGBTIQ Australians

a. Government to be responsible for the protection of all Australians from human rights violations, including LGBTIQ individuals and families.

b. Responsibility for ensuring equitable inclusion of LGBTIQ people to be formally incorporated into each appropriate ministerial portfolio.

c. Establishment of a federal LGBTIQ rights council comprised of a varied selection of national LGBTIQ advisory bodies and senior representatives from key government agencies to oversee inclusion of LGBTIQ issues across all legislation. Government agencies are to consult with this federal LGBTIQ council and relevant representative organisations in developing policies and programs that directly affect LGBTIQ Australians.

d. Funding for the collection and dissemination of LGBTIQ statistics through national statistical organisations. This is needed to ensure that decisions and services pertaining to LGBTIQ Australians, particularly trans and intersex Australians, are substantiated by data.

e. Terminology used in legislation referring to relationships, gender, sexual orientation and intersex status to be gender neutral and inclusive, except where the use of differentiated terminology is required to further the rights of a particular group.

f. Elected representatives to lead by example in inclusive practices.

↑ Back to Top

 

3. Attaining marriage equality

Australia has reached a point where it is ready to publicly value all relationships, regardless of gender affirmation or intersex status. Australians’ social, moral and religious engagement with marriage and the LGBTIQ community has changed and the majority of Australians now see the denial of marriage equality as the denial of equality to LGBTIQ Australians.

a. The Marriage Act must be amended to extend the right to marry to all Australians regardless of gender, sexual orientation or intersex status, including same-sex couples.

b. Australians should be permitted to marry regardless of their natural biology at birth and regardless of changes or alterations that occur in their recorded or self-identified gender.

↑ Back to Top

 

4. Protecting LGBTIQ Australians from discrimination

a. A standalone federal Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status Discrimination Act.

b. Removal of automatic anti-discrimination exceptions and exemptions for all organisations, including religious organisations, on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status from Anti-Discrimination and Equal Opportunity legislation.

i. The AEP supports the formation of a public body to review, process and regulate any requests for anti-discrimination exemptions.

ii. All organisations requesting an exemption must clearly detail the rationale behind their requests both within their business model and in respect to the ethos and culture of their organisation.

c. Initiation of a Productivity Commission investigation, in conjunction with LGBTIQ researchers and experts, into the social, environmental and economic costs of discrimination against LGBTIQ Australians, particularly the effects of discrimination towards Australia’s bisexual, trans and intersex population.

d. Government and private sector adoption and implementation of non-binary inclusive language practices.

e. A review into the effects of gender-based divisions in sports, community and service organisations, particularly the effects of these divisions on transgender, gender diverse and intersex people, accompanied by identified provisions that may be available for this population.

f. Intersex people should be permitted to be legally recognised in the gender they feel most comfortable, including female, male, neither male nor female, or both male and female. Legal classification of intersex children as male or female should be contingent upon the provision that they may later provide informed consent to change their birth certificate and other documentation such as passports.

g. Documentation:

Gender centric terms and options in formal documentation exclude, isolate, and humiliate trans persons.

i. Wherever possible, documentation should not use gender as a marker.

ii. Change of gender on birth certificates should require only a signed form.

iii. Trans persons currently require a letter from a medical practitioner to legitimise their change of identified gender in certain types of documentation. No trans person should need to get a letter from a doctor to fill in any form of documentation.

iv. Formal declaration of gender identity must be solely dependent on identification, rather than on whether or not a person has had surgery.

v. Trans people should not be outed due to the presence of a gender on birth certificates and passports. Such instances constitute a breach of the many standards of privacy and confidentiality that exist in the private and public sectors across the breadth of Australian society.

vi. Gender on passports must be based on affirmed identity. Full affirmation of identified gender on a person’s passport necessitates the development of an appropriate additional category or categories of gender. Australia must advocate for all of its citizens who encounter difficulty when interacting with customs in other constituencies.

↑ Back to Top

 

5. Ensuring equality in families, surrogacy and adoption

The AEP supports a human rights and regulatory approach to adoption and surrogacy that is fair and consultative. Appropriate, contextualised, rigorous research on the experience of children in same-sex parented families should be incorporated into judicial proceedings, legislation and educational materials.

a. Adoption

i. Universal access to stranger and known child domestic adoption for single LGBTIQ people and LGBTIQ couples. All adoption agencies should provide services to LGBTIQ people.

ii. Equal access to international adoption for single LGBTIQ people and LGBTIQ couples. Where international adoption is available to heterosexual married couples but limited for LGBTIQ couples or single people by the legislative framework of the country of origin, advocacy for LGBTIQ parenting rights should be supported.

b. Surrogacy

i. Surrogacy (altruistic or compensated) should be available to all Australian residents with laws harmonised across all states and territories regardless of gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or intersex status. Harmonisation must include the repeal of any legislation that criminalises a surrogacy arrangement that would otherwise be considered fully legal in another Australian state or territory. Legislation must be fully supported by adequate research.

ii. A regulatory system should be developed to ensure and monitor the full assessment of capacity, motivation and intersecting factors present in all parties involved in legal surrogacy arrangements.

iii. Legislation that will appropriately regulate surrogacy processes while ensuring the centrality of the fundamental human rights of children, and providing necessary protections for both surrogates and intended parents. This includes the assessment of capacity, motivation and intersecting factors present in all parties involved in such arrangements.

iv. All children born via surrogacy arrangements (both domestically and overseas) should be provided with recognition of legal parentage in line with the Family Law Council’s Status of Children’s Act recommendation. For the purposes of surrogacy this would include:

1. That any order is subject to the best interests of the child;

2. Provision to ensure the rights of the child are protected in the case that either parties change their minds, such that the child will be adequately cared for;

3. Evidence of the surrogate’s full and prior informed consent;

4. Evidence of the surrogacy agreement, including any sums paid;

5. Considerations given to whether the intending parents have acted in good faith in relation to the surrogate;

6. Evidence that the intending parent/s will ensure the child has access to information concerning the child’s genetic, gestational and cultural origins;

7. Provision is made that where a surrogacy arrangement involves multiple births, orders must be made in relation to all children born;

v. The criminalisation of advertisements to attract surrogates or egg donors should be reviewed to assist in making surrogacy arrangements (both altruistic and compensated) transparent and accessible.

vi. Improved training and education about surrogacy should be provided to all medical, social, health and other government and community services to assist in reducing stigma and encouraging openness.

c. Families

i. Inclusive paid parental leave for all parents (including involved donor parents).

ii. Equal rights and protections for children with LGBTIQ parents.

iii. Equal access to assisted reproductive treatments, inclusive of IVF, for Australians of all sexual orientations, gender identities and marital statuses.

iv. A review of legislation across states and territories relating to the interaction of sperm donation, single women, and family arrangements that involve more than two parents to ensure fair, equitable and evidence based regulations for families who use sperm from either known or unknown donors.

v. A review of the legislation in force pertaining to legal guardians of minors, ensuring that same-sex couples are legally represented as equal guardians of their child.

↑ Back to Top

 

6. LGBTIQ partner and family violence

Mainstream services have often been unable to meet the needs of victims of LGBTIQ partner or family violence and abuse toward children and elders (including physical and sexual violence; financial abuse; gaslighting; verbal abuse; social abuse, and psychological and spiritual abuse) due to a lack of expertise, an unwillingness or inability of organisations and services to meet the needs of the LGBTIQ community.

a. Inclusive policy

i. The inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity considerations by publicly-funded agencies that provide services to the victims of LGBTIQ partner or family violence.

ii. The inclusion of policy provisions that make it mandatory for relevant services to address the needs of victims of LGBTIQ partner or family violence.

iii. Support for the development of an LGBTIQ affirmative action plan within the National Family Violence Framework.

b. LGBTIQ-sensitive mainstream service delivery

i. The provision of government-funded resources and personnel to ensure that services can meet the needs of their LGBTIQ clients in a timely and appropriate manner.

ii. In consultation with LGBTIQ organisations, the development and implementation of LGBTIQ sensitivity training and the development of information, resources and appropriate referrals within organiations that currently provide services to people affected by partner and family violence.

iii. Support for the development of LGBTIQ-specific services for people affected by LGBTIQ partner or family violence where appropriate, including within established LGBTIQ organisations, such as:

1. Housing and emergency accommodation.

2. Free and low cost counselling, phone counselling, legal advice and other similar supports, particularly for people living in rural and regional areas

iv. Ensure that no service delivery organisation is able to deny services to victims of LGBTIQ partner and family violence purely on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, gender diversity or intersex status. This includes removing the broad exemptions from anti-discrimination legislation for religious bodies that deliver critical services.

v. Support the introduction of non-heteronormative partner and family violence prevention campaigns.

c. Improved reporting

i. Reporting mechanisms and practices must be improved such that they will increase the likelihood of reporting of LGBTIQ partner or family violence to police and other relevant agencies. Victoria Police taking the primary role, working in partnership with government and LGBTIQ community organisations where appropriate.

ii. The development of a Victoria Police communication strategy to promote awareness of the GLLOs and to encourage increased reporting of LGBTIQ partner or family violence.

iii. Increasing the presence, visibility and accessibility of GLLOs outside formal police settings, including at LGBTIQ organisational and community events.

iv. The development of diversity and LGBTIQ-sensitivity training for all police personnel that includes working with the victims of LGBTIQ partner or family violence.

v. The diversification of mechanisms for reporting same sex partner abuse including anonymous online reporting for incident data collection.

vi. The development of police information and referral protocols for victims of LGBTIQ partner or family violence in partnership with LGBTIQ community organisations and accredited mainstream services.

vii. Improved and ongoing information data collection regarding the incidence of different types of LGBTIQ partner and family violence including non-physical forms of abuse and the success rates of intervention strategies.

viii. Government funded monitoring and review of LGBTIQ partner and family violence cases to determine the best practices at each stage.

d. Research

i. The development of government-funded research targeting cases of same sex partner abuse that have gone through the courts. The project would gather information on complainants’ experiences of taking cases through the criminal justice system with a view to improving the quality of services provided

ii. The monitoring and evaluation of data collection to determine whether or not they are leading to improved reporting of, and are effective in reducing, LGBTIQ partner and family violence.

↑ Back to Top

 

7. Introducing a human rights approach to LGBTIQ immigration, refugees and asylum seekers

a. Recognition of overseas same-sex marriages in Australian law according to the Hague Convention.

b. Consistent and equitable partner recognition for visa and migration purposes.

c. Refugees and asylum seekers:

People can currently obtain asylum seeker status and a visa if experiencing discrimination, persecution or the fear of persecution on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status (SOGII). However, the burden of proof currently falls on the asylum seeker. According to the Organisation for Refuge, Asylum and Migration’s (ORAM) 2012 report, it is estimated that there are 175 million LGBTIQ persons living in persecutory environments. Of these, 5000 are able to lodge asylum claims each year and only 2500 of these are successful.

Australian policy is that a person may be sent to their country of origin if they can change their behaviour in order to prevent exposure to persecution, for example, in the case that the person has been an overtly visible supporter of LGBTIQ rights in their home country. The idea however of being able to practice discretely is not acceptable grounds for denying refugee status, as established in Kaleidoscope Australia’s 2015 report. The person may, however, be required to prove that they were out to a degree that would reasonably be seen to attract persecution. This places many LGBTIQ people in a difficult situation whereby they must prove that they were “out” but not “too out” before experiencing persecution.

There are several factors that can complicate this process including the applicant’s own self-understanding, translators, perceived threat due to SOGII status, lack of documentary evidence or knowledge of LGBTIQ groups and the cultural sensitivity of border officers. Incorrect status determinations are potentially deadly.

The Australian Equality Party acknowledges that both mandatory and indefinite detention breach Human Rights laws and safeguards, and result in depression, self-harm, suicide attempts, sexual assaults and abuse.

i. Australia’s human rights based response to SOGII claims must be supported by adequate auditing.

ii. Processing or settlement of asylum seekers must not occur in countries in which LGBTIQ discriminatory laws exist. As SOGII claims often do not arise on the primary application due to fears of persecution, offshore processing in countries such as Papua New Guinea may lead to refoulement.

iii. Refugee status should be available for LGBTIQ people experiencing or fearing persecution in their country of origin on SOGII grounds, in accordance with UNHCR principles. This persecution may occur regardless of the actions of the state where stigma, discrimination and abuse may be systemically part of the social environment. Further actions by rogue state officers such as police still constitute state abuse even if they contravene the laws of that country.

iv. Assessment of asylum seekers must use global evidence-based practices that respect the person’s dignity and human rights. Interview procedures must facilitate asylum seekers in telling their own stories in a non-confrontational way by using open questions.

v. Medical testing, even when voluntary, cannot be used as it is both a violation of the right to privacy and dignity under the UN charter but also because these methodologies are not effective. Further documentary evidence of sexual acts are never to be asked for or accepted as evidence.

vi. The claims process must incorporate an approach to disclosure that recognises: (a) the progressive nature of disclosure due to fear and stigma surrounding an LGBTIQ asylum seeker’s willingness to address issues of sexuality; (b) that persons seeking asylum are often coming to terms with their SOGII status thus may not consider themselves to by LGBTIQ due to cultural framing instead referring to themselves by another term eg ‘hijra’ which means third gender in many South Asian countries and especially in India; (c) the possible presence of a discriminatory translator; (d) issues of safety presented by the LGBTIQ asylum seeker’s colocation with other asylum seekers who may hold discriminatory views; (e) the possibility that a person’s understanding of sexuality, sexual orientation and gender may differ according to culture or context. The application of the Fast Track process to each individual category of claim must be reviewed in light of these considerations.

vii. Resettlement of a person who is LGBTIQ must not occur in a country that has laws that actively discriminate against LGBTIQ people.

viii. If LGBTIQ people are approved for settlement in Australia, resources must be provided for counseling, social support and peer networks.

ix. Strongly support the collection of data for the path of LGBTIQ people, including (a) discrimination in specific countries of origin; (b) experiences of LGBTIQ asylum seekers in the community; (c) sexual health of LGBTIQ asylum seekers and refugees.

x. Strongly support the implementation of an audit model, similar to that currently operating in the UK, whereby an ombudsman and legal framework would exist for the recording of decisions made by immigration officials to create a precedent-based system to allow for consistent and evidence-based assessment of the claims of LGBTIQ asylum seekers.

xi. Provision and access to sexual and reproductive health resources to all asylum seekers.

xii. Specialist training and staff to address the needs of the LGBTIQ asylum seekers. More specifically training for immigration officers who have a direct impact on determining an LGBTIQ asylum seeker’s claim.

d. Ensure the current system of tribunals – currently the MRT-RRT – is not compromised by mergers with other tribunals.

e. Oppose the raising of the risk threshold for complementary protection.

f. Refugee status should be available for people living with HIV who experience persecution and denial of healthcare needs based on their status, in accordance with UNHCR principles.

g. Review of current healthcare service and treatment access for migrants living with HIV.

↑ Back to Top

 

8. Advocating for LGBTIQ people in foreign policy and development

a. Australia will vocally oppose all global LGBTIQ discrimination and unapologetically advocate for the rights of LGBTIQ people in countries that legislate for discrimination towards, and capital punishment of, LGBTIQ persons.

b. Advocacy for development of LGBTIQ inclusive policy and practice in all interactions with other nations, including neighbouring countries and trade and development partners.

c. Human rights of LGBTIQ persons to be explicitly addressed in foreign policy.

d. The development of a detailed LGBTIQ engagement framework to support (a) international development policy and (b) the operation of all government-funded development bodies in contexts in which the rights of LGBTIQ people are at risk.

e. Australia must actively advocate for transparent, regulated and equitable adoption and surrogacy-practices internationally.

↑ Back to Top

 

9. Delivering equitable education outcomes for LGBTIQ Australians

It is imperative that wellbeing, safety and educational outcomes are prioritised over other interests in all aspects of Australia’s education system.

a. The national education and curriculum strategy must include age-appropriate and LGBTIQ-inclusive content pertaining to diverse gender and sexuality.

b. Introduce respectful relationships education into the national education and curriculum strategy to support students to learn how to build healthy relationships and prevent family violence.

c. Training and materials for educators to include LGBTIQ awareness, where appropriate, across a broad range of learning contexts, curriculum areas, and extra-curricular activities.

d. Removal of exemptions that allow education providers to practice LGBTIQ discrimination in employment of staff, adoption and contextualization of curriculum, or enrolment of students.

e. Assure safety from discrimination for all LGBTIQ staff and students. Current exemptions afforded to religious educational institutions that allow discrimination against LGBTIQ staff and students are incompatible with the needs and rights of LGBTIQ students.

f. It is vital that programs and systems that promote, safeguard and audit inclusion and diversity in all Australian schools are continuously improved, adequately funded, and expanded to cover extra-curricular and community engagement aspects of education provision. The AEP aims to ensure that all such programs and coalitions are further supported by quality frameworks that, as far as possible, confer accreditation on the condition of compliance with these frameworks.

g. Responsibility for provision of religious instruction within state education systems should be removed from unregulated private operators. Religious studies should be aligned with appropriate national curriculum standards that promote academic rigour and learning environments free from heterosexist, homophobic, biphobic or transphobic material.

h. Religious pastoral care employees should not be the sole providers of student counselling services within the state school system. The AEP supports a greater level of federal funding to ensure all schools have adequate access to student support in the form of psychologists, social workers, youth workers and counsellors. Such support staff should have appropriate training in LGBTIQ identity, gender diversity, and adolescent mental health. All students should have access to counselling services free from discrimination and bias.

i. Support and funding for peer education programs around sexual and reproductive health that are free from bias and include education appropriate to students of diverse gender and sexuality

j. All teachers and support staff must complete a mandated LGBTIQ and gender diversity awareness and competence course.

k. All schools must protect trans students from discrimination. This includes:

i. Freedom to enroll in single sex schools.

ii. Freedom to wear clothing and uniforms that reflect students’ gender identity.

iii. Freedom to engage in gender-based activities that reflect students’ gender identity.

l. Textbooks included in the national curriculum and used in schools should be screened for discriminatory language, perspectives, or opinions, in line with other text screening processes that already occur in primary and secondary education.

m. Establishment of a federal education working group to oversee LGBTIQ issues and programs in the public education system.

↑ Back to Top

 

10. Ensuring equality for bisexual, trans and intersex Australians

Despite many advances in policy and advocacy for the rights of lesbian and gay Australians, the AEP recognises that the needs of bisexual, trans and intersex Australians have not been addressed to the same extent.

a. Further recognition of the successes, contributions, challenges, inequalities, and rights of bisexual, trans and intersex Australians.

b. Ensure that no motion or legal endeavor in support of the rights of LGBTQ rights jeopardises positive outcomes for bisexual, trans or intersex people. The AEP affirms that trans and intersex people are fully capable of leading fulfilling lives and rejects any notion that intrinsically links trans or intersex status to disadvantage or disability.

c. Research into the needs of bisexual, trans and intersex people from diverse backgrounds including but not limited to, culturally and linguistically diverse people (CALD), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, new migrants, and people with mental health issues. Research to support the recognition and empowerment of these communities is essential.

d. The AEP supports the empowering of existing bisexual, trans and intersex advocacy organisations and services to address issues pertaining to diversity within diversity.

↑ Back to Top

 

11. Ensuring the health and wellbeing of LGBTIQ Australians

a. The establishment of an anti-discrimination code of practice governing all heath care professionals at the point of care.

b. Increased LGBTIQ awareness, education and training for all health professionals

c. Guaranteed funding and support for national health, mental health, alcohol, drug, anti-bullying, and phone counselling services that support LGBTIQ people.

d. Increased support for LGBTIQ-oriented research or data-collection which acknowledges and adequately incorporates information about the health of Australians who might reasonably be considered to be closeted.

e. Strengthening the National LGBTIQ Health Alliance.

f. Government underwriting of essential health and wellbeing services to LGBTIQ individuals and communities, such as specialist sexual health, medical, aged care, mental health, gender and support services.

g. HIV and people living with HIV

The AEP recognizes that stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV causes further disadvantage in numerous domains of life. The AEP supports campaigns aimed at reducing stigma and increasing inclusion in day to day life.

i. Oppose mandatory HIV testing regimes in favour of public health guidelines and awareness.

ii. Support the development of health prevention, promotion and awareness based initiatives that focus on reducing HIV in at risk communities.

iii. Campaign to end HIV by 2020 through national health initiatives focusing on HIV prevention, treatment and support.

iv. Support the Meaningful Involvement of People living with HIV (MIPA) on steering committees, peak bodies and as consultants with lived experience of HIV in accordance with the Paris Declaration of 1994.

v. Support protective policy measures for people living with HIV (PLHIV). This includes assurances for the wellbeing of dependents of PLHIV as well as the financing of systems to ensure the safety and wellbeing of these dependents.

vi. Support the provision of funding for collaborative projects from health and organisations that aim to create holistic programs for community support and anti-discrimination, for example, services that deliver family planning, maternal health, and HIV/AIDS support.

vii. Support the attainment and use of statistics for HIV prevalence, experience and intersecting areas.

viii. Support the broad rollout of Point-of-Care-Testing (POCT) home based testing.

ix. Support availability, promotion and national roll-out of rapid HIV testing, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PreP) and post exposure prophylaxis (PEP), ensuring equitable access within rural and remote communities with:

• Funding support for an overarching body responsible for these strategies.

• Subsidisation of all testing technologies and medications preventing and treating HIV.

x. Support an expert review in to better outcomes for young people (under 16) at risk of poor access to healthcare due to the need for parental consent relating to prevention and treatment of sexually transmissible infections (STI), HIV/AIDS testing and treatment, gender identity, mental health and youth work support.

h. Support the provision of case management services for all young people who seek medical, health or mental health assistance without parental consent.

i. Increased funding and support for all sexual health services.

j. Remove discriminatory legislation governing blood donation which unduly persecutes LGBTIQ donors.

k. Ensure that a rights based approach remains central to health, family planning and support services, particularly for LGBTIQ people.

l. Support for partnerships addressing causes of housing stress and homelessness adversely affecting younger persons within the LGBTIQ community. Fund research into the causalities and co-morbidities of LGBTIQ homelessness.

m. Enhanced support for men who have sex with men (MSM) and women who have sex with women (WSW), in addition to identity-based (LGBTIQ) strategies. Use of sexual identity language (LGBTIQ) should be discarded when practices or perceptions are the concern. Sexual health surveys and data collection must integrate identity and practice-centric approaches.

n. Public health surveys must collect data relating to the LGBTIQ population.

o. Health of bisexual Australians:

The AEP rejects any culture or myths surrounding bisexual orientation, its existence and its characteristics. These myths and resulting biphobia or monosexism mean that bisexual people often feel they are not safe to be out in gay, lesbian and heterosexual communities.

i. Support a risk assessment approach for all LGBTIQ-focused policy and health promotion to ensure that such initiatives reach bisexual people who may not identify with the broader LGBTIQ community.

ii. Biphobia incorporates elements of homophobia however can also incorporate other phenomena, including originating from within the broader LGBTIQ community, due to distinct social and historical factors. Biphobia includes the assertions that (a) bisexuality does not exist, or that (b) bisexual orientation does not require the type of support for inclusion that is required by LGTIQ Australians.

iii. Funding urgently needed research into the specific mental health needs and lived experience of bisexual Australians, both for improving the equitable experience of bisexual Australians and to inform policy development.

iv. Support funding for organisations, programs and initiatives aimed at improving health outcomes and inclusion for bisexual Australians.

p. Health of trans Australians:

i. Positive interaction with general practitioners and broader medical services has the potential to greatly improve the wellbeing of trans persons. Interaction that is fraught with misinformation, discrimination and dis-respect can have long-lasting and damaging effects on the health of trans persons. There is a shortage of health professionals who are trained in how to work with trans communities in a way that instils dignity and respect. The AEP supports the introduction of an incentivised accreditation system that medical and health professionals can undertake to be registered as trans capable.

ii. GPs, psychologists, nurses and other health professionals must be suitably trained in order to allow trans people to visit them without needing to fully explain issues of gender on every occasion. The AEP supports the addition of a trans health unit to standard medical and public health curriculum.

iii. Young people must be treated with respect and taken seriously when indicating that their gender does not align with their physical attributes. The AEP supports a trans awareness strategy that educates young people broadly then encourages individuals to question, clarify then affirm their gender identity. All necessary support must be afforded to trans and gender diverse young people and their families to ensure this process is as effective as possible.

iv. Currently any GP is able to prescribe hormones to trans persons. Many are hesitant to do so, instead sending trans persons to specialist gender clinics. The AEP supports any initiative that aims to (a) train practitioners regarding the standards and practice for prescribing hormones, engaging with trans people and making appropriate referrals, and (b) inform trans persons of their rights when engaging with practitioners.

v. Further funding is needed for trans organisations and gender centres so they can advocate for trans people regarding education (including education regarding transitioning), medical care, custody, justice.

vi. State and federal laws relating to the age of consent for medical access must be harmonised.

vii. As of 2013, puberty blocker hormones do not require court consent. Irreversible hormones require consent through a court. The AEP supports urgent further research and investigation into the use of irreversible hormones.

viii. The AEP calls for a human rights based funding system that will allow trans people to have the highest quality gender affirmation surgery in Australia as trans people are currently faced with significant out of pocket expenses for surgery. The likely outcome to achieve this is Medicare and the public health system, though trans people should not need to be classified as having a chronic illness, disorder or dysphoria in order to have access to this service.

ix. Definitions of trans in psychological assessment must harmonise with the most progressive evidence-based definitions, including an informed consent approach, found in sources such as the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) rather than definitions that degrade.

q. Health of intersex Australians:

i. Poor caricatures and the confusion of intersex and trans in media, policy and broader LGBTIQ initiatives and programs detracts from both of these communities. The term intersex is not applicable to situations where individuals deliberately alter their own anatomical characteristics, nor is it synonymous with trans.

ii. Medical intervention for intersex people, including children, must only occur when they can make an informed decision regarding such intervention, unless there is the presence of an immediate and life-threatening condition.

iii. Work to ensure that intersex Australians have access to public health information and other community services such that they have unhindered access to every specific health and/or pharmaceutical resource required for daily and lifelong wellbeing.

iv. Support the work of intersex advocacy bodies, particularly through increased funding (including for research), commissions, policy research, and expertise. All legislative processes affecting intersex people must receive consultative input from intersex representative bodies.

↑ Back to Top

 

12. Wellbeing of older LGBTIQ Australians:

Recognition and protection of LGBTIQ elders, including access to appropriate community based, residential and palliative care, and protection from discrimination.

a. Funding for research into the needs of the older LGBTIQ community

b. The inclusion of LQBTIQ outcomes in all agenda care standards linked to accreditation and the introduction of a LGBTIQ relevant Quality Indicators for residential care.

c. Increased funding to support LGBTIQ care needs through the provision of funding to special needs groups under the Aged Care Act 1997.

d. National consistency and inclusive legislation for wills, power of attorney, advanced care directives, and other end of life needs.

e. Funding for the further development and implementation of programs aimed at supporting older LGBTIQ persons experiencing loneliness and/or isolation.

f. Establishment of an LGBTIQ consultation system to provide advice and advocacy in all aged care and home and community care services.

g. Implementation of a mandatory LGBTIQ accreditation process for home and community care providers, aged care providers and providers of residential aged care and ACAS and ACAT services. This training will be implemented systematically with a top down approach and will result in the development of an approved provider list.

h. Mandatory LGBTI training for all aged care workers and health professionals and the inclusion of LGBTI competencies in VET qualifications and relevant training certificates.

i. Promotion of the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act and the National LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care Strategy to services working with all people aged 50+.

j. Development of formal partnerships between providers of aged care, home and community care and LGBTIQ peak bodies to increase awareness of LGBTIQ elders

↑ Back to Top

 

13. Supporting equality for LGBTIQ Australians with a disability

The AEP will seek to ensure that all communities, systems, institutions, workplaces and places of education are inclusive of LGBTIQ Australians of all abilities.

a. The expression and acceptance of the sexual orientation and gender identity of people with a disability are enshrined in several international treaties and declarations. LGBTIQ Australians with disability have the right to the same freedoms as all other Australians. Alongside the right to civic participation and protection from abuse and neglect, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and its associated personal planning, funding and support processes must ensure that LGBTIQ Australians with disability are fully enabled to express their sexual orientation and gender identity without hindrance.

b. Support for full provision of choice and decision making mechanisms for LGBTIQ people with disability through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

c. Enhancement of standards governing disability support provision and disability support organisations to incorporate diverse sexuality and gender, particularly the freedom of short and long term choices relating to sexual expression and lifestyle, supported by a culture of risk mitigation rather than avoidance.

d. A review of the processes and permissions that may currently hinder the gender affirmation of a trans person with dual disability whereby a mental health issue may affect the consent and reporting processes of a support organisation or health service.

e. A review of the disability support pension (DSP) scheme and its ability to afford people with disability the opportunity to live in cohabitative relationships with a partners. At present, partnered pension payments for people with little to no prospect of future additional income are not sufficient for long term couples.

f. Inclusion of LGBTIQ provisions in all government funded contracts and tenders that support relationship and sexuality education or training for people with intellectual or cognitive disabilities.

↑ Back to Top

 

14. Assisting LGBTIQ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities

The following principles represent the foundation of the AEP’s policies relating to LGBTIQ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities:

All Australians regardless of race, background, religion, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex status or any other distinguishing characteristic have the right to life, liberty, freedom, security, access to essential services and the right to practice and learn their culture, language and traditional ceremonies in an environment free from discrimination.

Australians desire to live in an harmonious country that accepts and redresses the wrongs of the past, including the harmful effects of colonisation on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

People have better health outcomes when they are accepted, welcomed and feel that they belong.

The AEP acknowledges Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as possessing the oldest, continuous culture in the world and as the original occupants of the lands and waters that are now called Australia. They have a strong customary, spiritual and cultural bond with the lands and waters of Australia and this bond must be respected.

Constitutional acknowledgement of Indigenous communities should not extinguish the possibility of a formal treaty whereby Indigenous Peoples can claim sovereignty over their lands and waters now or in the future.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have the right to self-determination. This includes political representation at all levels of government and the right to be involved as true partners in the planning, development, execution and evaluation of all policies, programs, services, and allocation of resources that affect them, their lives and their connection to the land and waters.

a. The AEP recognises that LGBTIQ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples experience multiple forms of disadvantage. The AEP supports improvement in accessibility of services including health, housing, childcare, legal services and education. This includes ensuring that all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities whether rural, remote or metropolitan have access to high quality, culturally appropriate services.

b. Provisions supporting LGBTIQ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to be included in Reconciliation Action Plans at the federal, state and local levels.

c. Support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services to undertake LGBTIQ professional development and/or LGBTIQ inclusive practice accreditation to ensure that staff are adequately skilled to cater to the needs of community members who are or identify as LGBTIQ.

d. Provision of resources to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTIQ social support groups are able to provide culturally sensitive spaces where LGBTIQ people can seek support while strengthening culture.

e. Provision of training and resources to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers to ensure that they can provide appropriate information and support to the community regarding sexual and reproductive health, including the provision of affordable contraception, treatment for STIs, PReP, PeP and other vital medical care.

↑ Back to Top

 

15. LGBTIQ Australians in the sex industry

The AEP is committed to the human rights of Australians who work in the sex industry. This commitment is informed by the understanding that the sex work community is diverse and that some people who engage in sex work may not self identify as ‘sex workers’. In addition, the AEP acknowledges that there are complex factors that influence both the demand for and provision of, sexual services.

a. Providing a safe work environment through improved legislation and industry regulations, with a commitment to supporting legislation that protects clients and community members from harm.

b. Improving services, information, and education allowing sex workers and the broader community to make informed decisions about sexual services and purchasing.

c. Support for a legislative and regulatory environment that evenly balances the rights of workers to engage in legal sex work with the rights of clients seeking to purchase sexual services.

d. The decriminalisation of currently criminalised sex work.

e. Funding for research into issues that affect sex workers and for non-governmental organisations that support sex worker health and wellbeing.

↑ Back to Top

 

16. Promoting LGBTIQ inclusion in local government and community, sport and the arts.

The AEP affirms the academic, legislative and social history underpinning inclusion. Inclusion transcends tolerance, participation and assimilation. Inclusion requires periods of advocacy, affirmative action, targeted assistance and negotiation.

Many LGBTIQ people, especially in isolated or small communities, find it difficult to be open about their orientation. Many feel compelled to move to a big city to seek integration into the more urbanised LGBTIQ community. It is important that LGBTIQ people can live, work, recreate, play sport, engage in the arts and actively contribute in every Australian community. It is therefore important that local governments support LGBTIQ people and communities within their area of influence.

a. Mandatory Access and Inclusion or Health and Wellbeing local government planning must include strategies for LGBTIQ inclusion, including provisions for addressing mental health, youth and young adults, LGBTIQ elders, anti-discrimination and feedback and liaison.

b. Support for greater powers of review for peak bodies and state and federal government in ensuring local governments meet their inclusion and wellbeing planning requirements.

c. Program and service delivery involving culturally diverse LGBTIQ Australians should be consultative and informed by peak bodies. Specific funding must be available for programs that address complications arising from the intersection of LGBTIQ, CALD and faith communities.

d. Support for partnerships that decrease discrimination, increase participation and promote inclusion in sport at all levels.

e. Support and acknowledgement of organisations or enterprises that create safe spaces or hubs for LGBTIQ meetings, celebrations and networking.

f. Change the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 to remove any exemptions allowing the exclusion of people based on their sexuality or gender identity from any sporting activities.

g. Support for LGBTIQ cultural and community events and tourism, ensuring that these initiatives are free from discrimination and held in equal esteem as other community and cultural events.

↑ Back to Top

 

17. Empowering LGBTIQ Australians in Workplace and Business

A country that embraces diversity becomes more innovative and productive. The AEP desires to see an Australia in which the power of diversity is harnessed and celebrated through: addressing heterosexist, homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, harassment and discrimination; promoting the inclusion of LGBTIQ considerations in industrial agreements; requiring employers to provide safe work environments for LGBTIQ Australians, and fostering a new conversation among large and small businesses about the strength of a diverse and affirming work culture.

a. The development and increased effectiveness of recertifiable standards and programs that review and certify organisations’ commitment to removing discrimination and enhancing inclusion, particularly in workplaces, government, centres of education and community organisations.

b. Explicit integration of protections for LGBTIQ people in OHS/WHS regulations.

c. Supports a specific anti-discrimination focus inside small business, chambers of commerce, peak bodies, industry bodies and similar entities. This includes actively advocating for culture change with the leadership of these entities, and increasing the scope of anti-discrimination statutes for services/businesses wishing to deny service to people based on gender, sexuality or other characteristics.

↑ Back to Top

 

18. Creating opportunities for LGBTIQ Australians in rural and regional communities

It is necessary to ensure that there is equitable access resources required for LGBTIQ Australians living in remote and regional areas to live empowered and included lives.

a. Support and education for GPs with LGBTIQ patients in isolated communities.

b. Strongly supports continued and increased funding for services that support LGBTIQ and gender diverse persons living in regional and rural areas in areas such as youth and young adult services, suicide prevention, coming out, counselling, housing, gender transitioning and reassignment, and HIV/AIDS and STI testing and treatment.

c. Funding provided to rural and regional LGBTIQ health or community development programs must be accompanied by quality frameworks and outcome benchmarking to ensure that successes are celebrated and emulated, with systems for ongoing funding put in place.

d. Increased support for young LGBTIQ Australians requiring pathways and strategies to navigate difficult family circumstances, employment and poor community attitudes.

e. Expansion and strengthening of partnerships to ensure economic development, community development, mental health, youth work, inclusive sexuality education, public health and other information and service delivery programs are firmly inclusive.

↑ Back to Top

 

19. Protecting LGBTIQ Australians from the ex-gay movement and gay conversion therapy

Motivated by various minority views of LGBTIQ people and practiced in a range of religious and secular settings, the ex-gay movement views same-sex attraction as a disorder. The movement has caused considerable harm to the mental health of many Australians. Recent Victorian legislation has limited capacity to challenge the movement’s operations. Several overseas jurisdictions have classified therapeutic expressions of the movement as fraudulent. The ex-gay movement must be directly addressed through a combination of legislation, regulation, investigation and community education and communication.

a. Support for an inquiry into the extent and prevalence of the ex-gay movement and reparative therapy in the experience of LGBTQ Australians.

b. Legislation banning the use of reparative therapy by psychologists in accordance with the recommendations of the Australian Psychological Society (APS) and Australia New Zealand Psychiatric Association (ANZPA).

c. Greater powers for health services commissioners and consumer affairs agencies (including advocacy for these powers at a state level) to support the sufficient investigation of all claims of ex-gay activity.

d. Modification of legislation to classify as vilification the assertion that trans and same-sex attracted Australians are inherently disordered.

e. Protection of young Australians from exposure to the ex-gay movement’s practices and ideology. Exposure may come through third parties entering Australian schools and must therefore be addressed through directives for all chaplaincy, guidance counsellor and religious education programs.

f. Inclusion of compulsory content and clauses that systematically refute ex-gay methodology, with associated audit controls, in all tertiary courses that contain a counselling component.

g. Regulation for counsellors and other currently unregulated mental health practitioners so that LGBTIQ Australians will not be exposed to ex-gay or reparative therapy when using paid therapeutic services.

h. Tighter regulation to prevent the broadcast and advertising of ex-gay events and content such as radio shows, television programs and conferences.

↑ Back to Top

 

20. Creating an inclusive culture in media and communications

a. Promotion of inclusive language in locally produced news and current affairs content.

b. Support for LGBTIQ health and mental health awareness initiatives in Australian television and radio.

c. Support for initiatives that seek to present LGBTIQ health and identity awareness to young people in a positive and normative manner in Australian media.

d. Prohibitive measures for all organisations or individuals that raise censorship classifications of content solely due to the presence of LGBTIQ themes.

e. Ensure that homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic media content receives an appropriately specific rating.

f. Meaningful consequences and compulsory rehabilitative measures for derogatory reporting or incidents in broadcast, print or online media that denigrate the LGBTIQ and gender diverse community.

↑ Back to Top

 

21. Improving outcomes for LGBTIQ Australians in justice, police and corrections systems

a. Hate crimes with racist, xenophobic and homophobic motives must be recognised as such within the judicial system. Discrimination, oppression and violence because of sexual orientation are contrary to basic human rights and must always be fought with vigor.

b. Support for funding of research into the costs and effects of hate crimes and violence perpetrated against LGBTIQ Australians. This research will then be used to inform anti-violence and policing measures.

c. The removal of convictions for same-sex sexual acts between consenting adults from legal and criminal records, as has already occurred in Victoria.

d. Prosecutorial guidelines should be developed to guide all cases of deliberate exposure to HIV in the criminal justice system. Aim to traffic people out of the criminal model and into a rehabilitative stream. Oppose every use of discriminatory law when engaging people living with HIV, or the acquisition of HIV.

e. Supporting the development and use of national guidelines for people who put others at risk of acquiring HIV. Provide support to a rehabilitative and anonymous public health approach when engaging those to whom these guidelines are applied.

f. Removal of all HIV specific laws as such laws are discriminatory and obsolete.

g. Increased and sustained funding for LGBTIQ awareness raising programs for law enforcement officers.

h. The development and implementation of improved data collection on the incidence and types of heterosexist violence experienced by LGBTIQ Victorians. This may include:

i. Government support to ensure that Victoria Police’s data collection systems have the capacity to collect accurate and comprehensive data relating to heterosexist, homophobic, biphobic and transphobic violence.

ii. Partnerships between state, territory and federal Police forces and LGBTIQ community organisations to develop alternative, community-based options for data collection and reporting.

i. The diversification of mechanisms for reporting heterosexist violence including anonymous online reporting for incident data collection

↑ Back to Top

 

22. Honouring the dignity, successes, historical contributions and experience of LGBTIQ Australians

The Australian Equality Party prioritises and supports the recognition of the trauma and intergenerational suffering caused by discriminatory laws and attitudes in Australian culture and history. The AEP also supports the recognition of the success, work and achievements of LGBTIQ Australians through all possible channels, including media, the arts, sports, industry and business. This recognition should be most strongly demonstrated by Australia’s elected representatives.

↑ Back to Top

 

23. Ensuring fairness and equality for Australian women

Australia is one of the world’s most developed countries yet it is ranked globally as 24th for gender equality. The AEP recognizes that women experience discrimination in multiple domains of their lives. This is further amplified for LBTIQ women.

Examples of this discrimination and disadvantage include: unequal pay for like work roles and therefore lower levels of superannuation; restricted access to managerial and executive positions due to unconscious bias and discriminatory work culture; higher living costs due to more frequent need of essential services; statistically higher share of unpaid work in domestic and community domains; and statistically higher risk and experience of family violence. Women over the age of 35 also experience greater disadvantage due to statistically lower workforce participation and education due to past prevailing social attitudes. Women between the ages of 25 and 35 experience discrimination in employment due to assumptions and expectations regarding maternity leave and child rearing.

The AEP recognises that Australian women are frequently the carers of children, ageing parents and family members with a disability. It is often more viable for mothers to stay at home with their children than it is to participate in the workforce and engage child care arrangements. This has significant implications in all spheres of life, including in health, finances, employment, superannuation, careers, recreation, housing and relationships.

Of Australians who care for their elderly parents, 70% are women. Women earn 18.2% less than men. Women are more likely to be sexually harassed in the workplace. Women spend twice as many hours performing child rearing duties as men. Current support payments do not sufficiently mitigate the risk of poverty experienced by many Australian women. The Australian government must ensure that such examples of deep inequality are adequately addressed through legislation, financial support, funding of childcare arrangements, and workplace practices.

The AEP will work towards ending the gender gap.

a. Harmonisation of all anti-discrimination legislation protecting women, with greater attention given to recognising the risk of unconscious bias and allow women to balance work and family.

b. Ensuring all anti-discrimination legislation is aligned with international human rights charters.

c. Six months guaranteed paid parental leave at 100% of regular salary with a $70,000 cap plus superannuation, with a safety net floor of the minimum wage plus 20%.

d. Introduction of a means tested government co-contribution to superannuation for women earning less than $60,000 per year.

e. Increase to the Child Care Rebate and the Family Tax Benefit.

f. Introduction of legislation ensuring women receive equal pay for equal work.

g. The introduction of a 40% minimum female board membership quota for all companies earning in excess of $15 million, in line with Norwegian and Icelandic standards.

h. Protections against workplace discrimination in recruitment, staff culture, remuneration, entitlements and access to higher management.

i. Protection from discrimination in the workplace for women experiencing domestic violence at home and greater capacity for women to access leave and flexible workplace arrangements.

j. Access to high quality reproductive health services, including access to all medical and services required for women to have their reproductive health rights protected.

↑ Back to Top