I heard on Sky’s “Paul Murray Live” on Monday that the Queensland Labor government is starting to talk about quotas in government for the LGBTQ+ community. In other words, having parliamentarians/ Senators employed because of the fact they identify as LGBTQ+. I have had two thoughts about this. At first, I thought that it may be beneficial to members of the LGBTQ+ community at least in some areas.Having an LGBTQ+ Senator may be able to directly address issues facing the LGBTQ+ community and implement policies that make LGBTQ+ Australians safe, healthy and productive members of society. They may be able to give insight into issues directly affecting the LGBTQ+ community in Australia. For example, according to Australian Human Rights’ “Face the Facts” fact sheet (2014), 34% reported hiding their sexuality and/ or gender identity from their doctor. The study showed that, as of 2014, homophobia was still a major issue. The study found out:
- 6 in 10 had experienced verbal homophobic attacks
- A fifth (20%) had experienced physical homophobic attacks
- Another 1 in 10 (10%) experienced other types of homophobia
LGBTQ and mental health
According to other sources, such as Beyond Blue indicate that bisexual women especially, suffer higher rates of depression and anxiety than lesbian or gay individuals. Transgender people, however, face the highest rates of depression and anxiety at over 50% – especially trans – women.
So, how can an LGBTQ+ senator help with this on a State level? Could they point out where more resources and services are needed to assist LGBTQ+ Australians? What about on issues such as marriage equality, medical services for transgender and/ or intersex people? The fact of the matter is, as much people are tired about hearing and talking about LGBTQ+ issues, sorry, but we’re here. We are your brothers, sisters, siblings, aunts, uncles, work colleagues and classmates. As indicated in the link from the Australian Human Rights Commission, homophobia was still a major issue as recently as 2014. Too many LGBTQ+ hide in fear of being rejected (as indicated again, by the link above).
The problem with tokenism
However, I believe there are some potential downsides. First, in my opinion, governments employing someone because they represent a certain group hasn’t worked in the past. For example, former Julia Gillard appointing former athlete Nova Peris in a bid for the sake of employing an Aboriginal person only ended in tears… literally. Peris ended up bowing out last year before her term was up.
This was a long line of ugly so – called “identity politics” that is still raging in Australia today. It also shows that tokenism should be avoided by everyone. I don’t think tokenism does anyone any good, including the people they are suppose to represent. Gillard’s tokenism only exacerbated Labor’s unpopularity at the time and also did not assist the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, as far as I know. So, I think there’s a chance that if, an LGBTQ+ person was elected or appointed by a politician because of their sexuality/ intersex status or gender identity, it may only add to the groan factor across the country, rather than being of any benefit to the LGBTQ+ community.
My conclusion is that merit, not quotas should be a reason why someone is elected to State or Federal parliament. I think anything other than that will not do anyone – including the LGBTQ+ community any good in the long run.
What do you think about my assessment of quotas in parliament to add more LGBTQ+ people? Do you agree or disagree? Let me know what you think in the comments below.