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Premier's apology welcome but must come with action

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Amanda Cohn
NSW Greens MP
6 June 2024

Statement attributable to Dr Amanda Cohn, Greens spokesperson for LGBTQIA+:

The Greens welcome the Premier’s historic, important and overdue apology to those affected by discriminatory laws that criminalised homosexual acts, and his recognition of the NSW Parliament’s role in enacting laws that persecuted and harmed people based on their sexuality and gender. 

The Premier today acknowledged that there is still much work to be done to ensure equal rights for all members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and the Greens are ready to work with the NSW government to progress the reforms that are urgently needed.

To deliver an apology four decades after the reversal of a law is complicated for many. Many of the thousands estimated to have been convicted under these unjust laws, and their loved ones who escaped conviction, are no longer alive to see it.

We must honestly recognise the role this parliament has played enacting laws and endorsing policies of successive governments decisions that cruelly criminalised, persecuted and harmed people based on their sexuality and gender. To do so, we must urgently rectify the raft of discriminatory laws and law enforcement practices still current in NSW. 

The trauma inflicted by discriminatory laws is not only historical. NSW has the worst laws in Australia for LGBTQIA+ people.

Queer people outside metropolitan cities in the many quiet corners of regional NSW are disproportionately affected by discrimination. The tyranny of distance means they lack a community they truly belong to, they lack tailored health services, and it means they may never hear this apology. The Greens are committed to taking the Parliament and the work of reconciling decades of discrimination to those people.

The Equality Bill would amend the Anti-Discrimination Act and protect bisexual, asexual, non-binary people, and sex workers. It would allow people to alter their birth certificates without the violating need for surgery. It would improve access to gender affirming care and empower young people, in particular, to make informed decisions about their own health. It would make spaces safer for trans people that have too long been inaccessible to them, such as sporting communities.

The government has unnecessarily delayed the Equality Bill by conducting an inquiry. In doing so, it has delayed and deferred protecting LGBTQIA+ people and exposed them to further harm by platforming bigotry. There can be no further delay. The Greens are ready to work with the NSW government to progress its reforms.

The Greens continue their call for the government and NSW Police Force to commit to implementing the recommendations of the Special Commission of Inquiry into LGBTIQ hate crimes.

It is a privilege and a relief to participate in this historic moment of apology. I have seen firsthand the discrimination inflicted on queer people, as a doctor, as a member of Parliament, and as a councillor on Albury Council during which time I remained closeted for my own career and safety.

It’s important we leave space for the complex feelings of survivors listening to this apology today, those here in Parliament and the many across NSW. The Greens share in their joy and acknowledge their pain. Today is an opportunity to commit to change that will ensure that pain is not felt by the future generations of this state.

 

Media contact: Josh Appleton - 0439 833 628 - [email protected] 

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Amanda Cohn
NSW Greens MP
6 June 2024
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