I am amazed at the massive influence that the Christian-Right continues to have within the Liberal National Party of Queensland. It was always self-evident that the party is inherently socially conservative, even with a leader who can generously be described as a "moderate." This is a legitimate worldview-not one with which I agree, but one that is held by the LNP.
But the speed and apparent enthusiasm with which the LNP has gone after LGBTI rights since winning Government in March has been completely shocking. I didn't expect Qld to be the progressive place that it was under the former government; but this level of anti-gay sentiment so early is a troubling sign, and not one that many saw coming.
By considering the very early actions of the Newman Government, it can be established that it is determined to roll back progressive reforms of past governments and go even further to the detriment of minorities who appear to be voiceless in the public policy debate.
It began when the Health Minister, Lawrence Springborg, defunded the Queensland Association for Healthy Communities based on, at best, faulty logic and evidence. His view was that they spent too much time advocating; apparently not realising that they were contractually obliged to do so under the terms of their contract with the Qld Government.
He also cited the AIDS rate in Qld as evidence that the QAHC was not working effectively. Hysterical nonsense. The HIV rate among gay men - the sector of the community that the QAHC serves, actually decreased. The QAHC was working and doing exactly what it was supposed to do under the terms of its contract.
The result of the defunding will be that thousands of gay men will no longer have access to specialised health services, which is somewhat counter-productive given that Mr Springborg showed ostensible concern that the QAHC was not working.
But that was never his true concern. His actions demonstrate a loathing for the same-sex community within the LNP that has not been seen since Joh referred to homosexuals as "sick animals." It appears as though many within the Government continue to hold that worldview.
The Premier then announced that his Government would eliminate the official ceremony aspect of the civil partnerships legislation passed by the former government. This was met with wide outrage from many, but I was not one of them. It was a weak and petty move, but all things considered, the alternative was markedly worse – they were always going to alter them in some way or form.
But what actually transpired was much worse, and their "reforms" go much further. Among a whole host of other reforms, "civil unions" will now be called the "relationships registry." The Attorney-General will go so far as to rename the Department of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, which administers the Act, so that there can be no doubt that the registry is not marriage.
This move can only be fuelled by an anti-gay worldview.
Incidentally, the Premier acknowledged that the only organisation to whom he spoke on this matter was the Australian Christian Lobby, who also met with the Attorney-General. The Premier simply said that he "knows the views" of groups like PFLAG. If he really does, they clearly don't get any say in public policy.
When the amendments to the Civil Partnerships Bill were ultimately introduced to the Legislative Assembly, the Attorney-General announced that the Government would also be abolishing surrogacy rights for same-sex couples and singles. This appeared to be a completely arbitrary move; however, given that earlier dissent had emerged with respect to civil unions not being entirely abolished, this can be construed as a move designed entirely to calm the Christian-Right elements of the LNP.
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