Human Rights Commission Report
(Questions Without Notice, 24 June 2015, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)
My question is directed to the Attorney General. The Human Rights Commission report on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex rights identified a number of areas that New South Wales can fix. How will the Government respond to that report?
Response from Attorney General:
I thank the member for Sydney for his question.
Everyone in this House will agree that our community's diversity makes us stronger. We need to open our hearts and minds to our neighbours. Today the member for Sydney is reminding us to do that. Earlier this month the Human Rights Commission released its report on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Intersex, which made it clear that people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex [LGBTI] face significant challenges not only in New South Wales but also in Australia and across the world—challenges such as bullying, harassment, isolation and being marginalised in our communities. It was disarming that 91 per cent of respondents to the survey written up in the report said that they knew someone who had experienced things—harassment, intimidation or violence—on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.
Last year, as Minister for Family and Community Services, I visited Twenty10, an organisation in the inner city with which the member for Sydney is probably familiar. The New South Wales Government funds that service to deliver specialist services to help vulnerable LGBTI youth. When I was there I heard firsthand from young people about the issues of bullying and harassment, their vulnerability and how that leads to mental health issues, and the serious impact it has on their general wellbeing. That was a disarming time; it exposed to me the hard edge of harassment and intimidation and the impacts of that on young people in our local community.
But we can take heart. The report makes it clear that change is happening because of events such as rugby's Bingham Cup, which I was proud to support as the then Minister for Sport and Recreation and as the local member for Vaucluse. It was more than a great sporting event because as a result of that all the major sporting codes came together to sign a protocol around inclusion. What a great outcome from that event. The member for Sydney and the member for Coogee were part of that. Such events will leave a legacy and help us work together to assist the people I know the member for Sydney is most concerned about.
Indeed, stories like that of Catherine or Cate McGregor should remind us all that while challenges remain for the LGBTI community they are not insurmountable. Her journey from Malcolm McGregor, working in that tough world of the military, to Cate is one of extraordinary inspiration for all of us. This House has done some good work. Last year we took action and we righted past wrongs by passing legislation to extinguish the historical criminal records for those who were found guilty of consensual same-sex activity. I acknowledge the efforts of the member for Coogee and the member for Sydney to bring justice to those who had been denied it for a long time. I strive to treat people in my life on the basis of the content of their character, not their race, gender, religion or sex. I bring those views, those principles, to my role as Attorney General.I strongly support the principle that justice should be blind. Under the leadership of Premier Baird, the Government is compassionate, tolerant and inclusive, and our budget demonstrates that amply. We are committed to ensuring that everyone in New South Wales is treated equally and fairly under the law. We are determined to help people in need. As the Premier said last year in this Chamber, "Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community can continue to have the Government as a great supporter." The member for Sydney has that commitment. I welcome the fact that the Human Rights Commission report again puts a clear focus on the challenges faced by people. The Government will closely review this report, and I as Attorney General will work to ensure that all members of our community, especially the ones that the member for Sydney has identified, will have justice that is fair and equal.
Hansard record HERE.