Sydney Mardi Gras: Reminder that much still needs to be done to end discrimination

2 March 2013

ACOSS Chief Executive Dr Cassandra Goldie today wished organisers and participants of the annual Mardi Gras Parade a joyous celebration, adding that much still needs to be done to achieve equality and an end to discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in Australia.

“The annual festival has become one of our nation’s most popular events , drawing people from all over the world. It is a wonderful celebration of all that has been achieved in the past 35 years, but also a reminder that’s there’s still much more to be done to achieve true equality,” Dr Goldie said.

“There is no doubt there is more acceptance today and we’ve seen key reforms in areas such as social security, tax and superannuation. However we still need to urgently address the legal discrimination against LGBTI people in Australia. The denial of the right of people to marry regardless of their sexuality, and inconsistent approaches to parental recognition and alternative gender identities amount to a denial of human rights. It is discriminatory and needs to end. We fully support the move to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status, as part of enacting the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012.

“Australia is lagging behind many countries on this front now, even the UK and US, not to mention Mexico, Argentina and others. It’s about time our governments showed courage and gave people of diverse sex, sexuality and gender identity the same rights that all other people enjoy.

“There is still some work to be done to make our communities safe, with reports of violence against LGBTI people still persistent. We know that this continual discrimination is having a devastating impact on people’s health with members of these communities experiencing disproportionately higher rates of mental health issues, poorer health outcomes, and suicide.

“Sexuality, sex and gender diverse people have disproportionately negative mental health outcomes in comparison with the rest of the population. Research indicates rates of depression, suicidal ideation, suicide and other forms of self-harm between 2 and 14 times higher, as a result of the experience of discrimination and marginalisation.

“We simply cannot allow this to go on. We need a concerted effort to tackle this deeply disturbing evidence of chronic inequality in health outcomes. We need policies which address the longstanding legislative, human rights, community and health issues that impact on the LGBTI communities.

“Today’s Mardi Gras Parade will celebrate all the community activism and ongoing resilience of the LGBTI communities and all that has been achieved in the past four decades. As we welcome so many people from all over the world to today’s celebration, we should also be cognisant that the world is watching and waiting. It’s time for a deeper commitment and action by Australian Governments to true inclusion and participation of LGBTI people,” Dr Goldie said.

Media Contact: Fernando de Freitas 0419 626 155