House debates

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Statements by Members

Sydney WorldPride 2023

1:31 pm

Photo of Jerome LaxaleJerome Laxale (Bennelong, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

On 23 February I had the privilege and pleasure of attending the Connect Macquarie Park Innovation District's Sydney WorldPride Celebration. The fantastic Mark Ames invited local businesses like Optus, Sanofi and Unions NSW so we could hear how they were making their workplaces more inclusive for their workers and their customers. We also heard from the guest of honour and former resident of Bennelong Ken Davis. Ken is a 78er, one of the heroic activists who marched in the first Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras 45 years ago.

Ken shared with us a powerful story of activism and solidarity. In 1973 a young man, Jeremy Fisher, was expelled from his college at Macquarie University in my electorate of Bennelong because he was gay. After an approach from the student union, the Builders Labourers Federation responded by putting a total ban on all construction work on campus unless Jeremy was allowed back. Way back in '73, they saw the injustice of what the college did, they stood together in solidarity, and they won. Bennelong had Australia's and possibly the world's first ever pink ban. The construction workers voted in favour of the ban because they knew that discrimination against one is discrimination against all. Those workers knew that human rights are workers' rights, just as workers' rights are human rights. We have come a long way since then, but there's still more to do both here and overseas. Let us rise to the example set by those in '73 and respond to discrimination with activism and solidarity.