Bi+ Visibility Day

Bi+ Visibility Day

(Private Member's Statement, 21 September 2023, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)

Bi+ Visibility Day is celebrated on 23 September and is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the unique experiences of bi+ people around the world. Bi+ Visibility Day honours the many contributions that bi+ people have made and continue to make to our communities. Bi+ is an umbrella term used to describe people who are attracted to more than one gender, in any way, to any degree. The term bi+ can include, though is not limited to, bisexual, pansexual, polysexual, omnisexual, queer, fluid and multigender attracted. Some bi+ people use more than one label to describe themselves; some use no label at all. Although many bi+ people live happy, joyous lives, they also experience high rates of poor health outcomes across a number of areas. Health outcomes are even worse for bi+ people who experience additional discrimination from racism, transphobia, or ableism.

Private Lives 3, Australia's largest study of LGBTIQA+ people's health and wellbeing, found that nearly one quarter, or 22.1 per cent, of bisexual people and one-third, or 34 per cent, of pansexual people reported having experienced homelessness at some stage; 79.7 per cent of bisexual and 88.4 per cent of pansexual people reported having seriously considered suicide; half of pansexual people and almost half of bisexual people had experienced verbal violence from an intimate partner; and one-third of pansexual and almost one-quarter of bisexual people reported they had experienced physical violence from an intimate partner. As for family violence, 53.6 per cent of pansexual people and 46.5 per cent of bisexual people reported having experienced verbal abuse from a family member. Unfortunately, I could continue to list other disparities. These shocking health outcomes are not because of who bi+ people are, but because of ongoing stigma and discrimination.

Bi+ people's experiences are distinct from their gay and lesbian counterparts. While bi+ people can experience homophobia and transphobia, they also experience biphobia and bi+ erasure, even among LGBTIQA+ organisations, community and peers. Many bi+ people are told that they are not queer enough or that they are actually straight. Too often, bi+ people are told to "pick a side", that they are "greedy" or that their sexuality does not exist. Those prevailing attitudes are present in all aspects of life, both in the mainstream and from within LGBTIQA+ communities.

The research and stories from bi+ people are clear: Bi+ people have been left behind. But there is much we can do to turn things around. New South Wales is the only jurisdiction that does not provide civil protections from discrimination for bi+ people. My equality bill will provide that protection, and any rewrite of anti‑discrimination laws will need to include bi+ people. All LGBTIQA+ responses and policies need to address bi+ people and their experiences to work towards improving their health and wellbeing and ensure that they feel supported and included. The lack of awareness and understanding impacts heavily on the health care that bi+ people receive, which creates challenges in getting appropriate and targeted care. It is something that the NSW LGBTIQ+ Health Strategy 2022-2027 recognised, naming bi+ people as a priority population. Much is still needed to translate this into meaningful change.

In 2020 the Sydney Bi+ Network's community-needs survey found that the majority of respondents did not feel included in LGBTIQA+ communities. In Private Lives 3, only half of bisexual respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they feel they are part of the Australian LGBTI community, which emphasises the need for bi+‑specific spaces. We know that bi+ spaces and services save lives, and they should be supported alongside LGBTIQA+ organisations and community groups. I acknowledge the work of bi+ advocates and activists who keep bi+ people's experiences and needs on the agenda. They provide critical community support to help shape a better future for bi+ people. Many bi+ community-led organisations and community groups in Australia, like the Sydney Bi+ Network—which I recently met with—are volunteer run and have little to no funding. Imagine what they could achieve with the support of the New South Wales Government. Bi+ people exist, and they need to be affirmed and treated with dignity and respect. I call on members to join me this Bi+ Visibility Day and into the future to improve recognition, inclusion and outcomes for bi+ people.

Let's work together to celebrate and protect our great city!