Senate debates

Thursday, 23 March 2023

Statements by Senators

Gender and Sexual Orientation: Protests

1:32 pm

Photo of Linda WhiteLinda White (Victoria, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Outside this parliament a rally is taking place that claims to be fighting for women's rights. A similar rally occurred in Melbourne last week. Let us be clear: what is happening out there today and what happened in Melbourne is not about that; it's not about women's rights. It is about using women's rights as a cover to further an agenda of discrimination and vilification towards transgender Australians and other minority groups. In light of that, I have two simple messages to convey today. The first is to those people who have gathered outside this parliament to spread division and to attack the trans community in Australia. That message is this: you do not speak for me. You do not speak for the government, and I hope you do not speak for this parliament.

For those opposite me in the Senate, today presents an opportunity for us to come together and stand against this hate. Daniel Andrews made a strong statement as Premier of Victoria. John Pesutto has made a strong statement as Victorian Liberal opposition leader. The opportunity now is for senators in this place and the federal Liberal-National coalition to join us in condemning this vilification of trans Australians—that includes Senators Canavan, Chandler, Antic and Price. The words that politicians use have an impact on the lives of Australians, particularly vulnerable ones. We would do well to remember that. It shouldn't have to be said, but there is simply no place for hate.

My second message is to the trans community in Australia, especially young trans people. I know that the hate is painful. I know that, often, discrimination and stigma seem to follow you down the street, when you're just trying to live your life. I know that the suicide rate for young trans Australians is the highest of any group. But I also know that you are loved and you are supported by me, by our government and by most people in this chamber. You must not forget that you are valid, you are worthy and, even though this week has been hard, your rights are not negotiable.