Labor backtracks on LGBTQIA+ health

2 minute read

With its national platform in the draft stage, there are worrying signs for queer people seeking better healthcare access and equity.

The Australian Labor Party appears to have removed a commitment to strengthen legal protections for LGBTQIA+ people from its 2023 national platform, a consultation draft of which was released this week. 

In its 2021 platform, the party made a commitment to “strengthen laws and expand initiatives against discrimination, vilification and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics”. That commitment is missing from the draft platform, replaced instead with: “Labor will work closely with LGBTQ+ Australians and advocates to develop policy that meets the specific needs of the community to ensure equality with broader Australian society”. 

Advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community, Alastair Lawrie said on his blog that the replacement clause was “so generic, and so bland, as to be almost meaningless”. 

Mr Lawrie raised the alarm, listing four areas where the ALP seem to have backtracked: 

  • The draft platform axes previous support for LGBTQIA+ vilification protections; 
  • The draft platform axes previous support for affordable trans health care; 
  • The draft platform axes most intersex-specific commitments; and, 
  • The draft platform fails to support an LGBTIQA+ Human Rights Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission. 

Trans healthcare 

“The 2015 and 2018 ALP national platforms included commitments to, where possible, reducing out-of-pocket medical costs for gender-affirming health care,” wrote Mr Lawrie. That clause was cut from the 2021 platform, although the national conference that year resolved to “removing, wherever possible, barriers to accessing these services in consultation with medical experts and government”. 

In the draft 2023 platform, that has been rewritten to: 

“Labor supports queer, transgender and gender diverse Australians and their families, and will work to support their agency in health decisions. Labor will provide access to the vital health and support services LGBTIQ+ Australians need.” 

“Worryingly,” wrote Mr Lawrie, “this redrafted clause removes any specific reference to the affordability of trans health care, which is really the point: far too many trans and gender diverse people are currently blocked from accessing the care they need because they simply cannot afford it.” 

On 1 March this year the federal government announced a 10-year national action plan for the health and wellbeing of LGBTQIA+ Australians, including an LGBTQIA+ Health Advisory Group, and $26 million for research administered by the Medical Research Future Fund.  

The ALP national conference will be held in Brisbane on 17-19 August. 

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