b) Gay Australia
What can we expect from Prime Minister Gillard?
This article was published in MCV and SX News on 28.6.10.
A female leader with red hair, no kids, a clear head and a deft hand – is Australia in for a new Elizabethan Age?
I’m happy we finally have a female PM, one who isn’t said to base LGBT policy on “personal faith”.
But don’t fall for the new-dawn, Obama-style hype that has come to accompany changes in political leadership across the western world.
Politics is politics, particularly for a new leader anointed by right-wing machine men in an election year.
For example, Gillard is unlikely to break with Labor policy opposing marriage equality, although she may be more likely than Kevin Rudd to consider a national substitute for it.
For people like me who believe there’s no substitute for full equality this will be a step backwards.
More welcome is the possibility that Prime Minister Gillard will allow stronger Government commitments on everything from class room homophobia to discrimination in aged care.
The initiative will still be with the relevant ministers, but those now-infamous “meddling adolescents” in Rudd’s office won’t be getting in the way.
I’m particularly hopeful about the oft-forgotten issue of national sexuality and gender identity discrimination laws.
If Gillard can commit to these protections as an outcome of the current review of national discrimination law, Labor will reclaim some of its reformist mantle.
Most important of all is the possibility Gillard will break Rudd’s conspicuous public silence on LGBT issues – talking to us, walking with us, being our Prime Minister too.
Too often we under-estimate the importance of this symbolic leadership.
Sure, slick, inclusive words can be mis-used as a substitute for real reform. Both Obama and Gordon Brown have both been accused of this.
But after a long drought of official acknowledgment, LGBT Australians will bloom in the gentle rains of Prime Ministerial recognition.
The Virgin Queen she ain’t, but Gillard’s elevation to the top job holds out hope of a genuine break from the increasingly closed, cranky and callous post-Howardism of her predecessor.
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