Equality vote is in, vigilance needed

Mel Smith
Trade Union Training Officer

The marriage law survey results proved most Australians would like full equality for LGBTIQ people by changing marriage law that excludes same-sex couples from legal recognition of their relationship.

While some may not agree with this position, the results have indicated the majority of Australians do, and consequently a mandate has been given to the government to enact the change.

Federation was involved in the campaign based on a long-held position of the union, most recently endorsed at 2011 Annual Conference. This decision was made by representative members from across the state, and based on the principles of equality. Federation, like other unions, advocates and campaigns on social justice issues — particularly those that affect our members, their students and families. Many unions shared the view that we can’t build a just and fair society while our LGBTIQ colleagues and students are treated differently.

The matter at hand has been one of discrimination and equality, and arguments about religion clouded this fact. Given Australia is a secular state, the law is separate to religious beliefs and must continue to be so. We will be watching closely to ensure that current anti-discrimination laws are not eroded.

After changes to legislation implemented by the Rudd government, Australia was known to be more accepting of its LGBTIQ people, however exemptions still apply to anti-discrimination laws — students, as well as teachers, can be asked to leave religious schools based on their sexual orientation. While this is not the case in public schools, it is something to be aware of, and defend so all members of our society are treated as equal with respect and dignity.

Members of the Dubbo TA at the Central West Pride March

Dubbo teachers show support

The Dubbo Teachers Association recently supported the Central West Pride March in Dubbo, marching under their new rainbow banner. Members of Dubbo TA were joined by Federation members from other regions to support LGBTIQ colleagues, students and families.

Dubbo teacher Hannah Morley said: “It was wonderful to see so many people come along in support of diversity at Dubbo’s Pride March. I’m proud to have been able to participate to show my support to friends, family and students, and everyone in my local community.”

It was the third year of the march, which was scheduled for three days after the postal survey results were released so the LGBTIQ community had the opportunity to be supported and celebrated regardless of the outcome.

Regional teacher Leanne marched and said: “Our march demonstrated that support for LGBTIQ people isn’t only to be found in the city. We value diversity in rural and regional NSW and we welcome all members of our community here.”

Hundreds marched, or watched the parade, with many businesses along the route flying rainbow decorations in their windows. It ended with a fun day where the LGBTIQ community and their allies were able to continue celebrating.

Mel Smith is the Officer attached to the LGBTIQ Restricted Committee