Penny Wong
South Australia Labor Senator and out lesbian Penny Wong

The Opposition has pledged to appoint an LGBTI discrimination commissioner if elected.

Australia has commenced campaigning for the upcoming July federal election.

The current government under Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has pledged to stick with former prime minister Tony Abbott’s proposal to hold a public plebiscite to determine marriage equality.

The public plebiscite would cost the government an estimated $525 million, three times more than estimated at the beginning of the year, and wouldn’t be binding. Multiple politicians have already said they will vote ‘no’ even if their electorate is in favour.

With the election fast approaching, the opposition Labor Party has announced it will appoint an LGBTI commissioner to the Australian Human Rights Commission if successful in July.

South Australia Labor Senator and out lesbian Penny Wong made the announcement over the weekend and said the commissioner would “ensure lesbians, gays, transgender and intersex Australians live in a safer, more secure and more inclusive society.”

Schools, workplaces, and communities will be the primary focus. Ms. Wong said, “The commissioner will address structural discrimination, work towards ensuring our schools, workplaces and communities are free from discrimination, continuing Labor’s tradition of removing discrimination and creating a more fair, more equal Australia.”

The party has also pledged to introduce legislation for marriage equality within the first 100 days after the election with Ms Wong saying a plebiscite is “harmful, hurtful, and divisive.”

Referencing a 2015 report by the Human Rights Commission that found the rate of suicide for LGBTI people was between 3.5 and 14 times more likely than the general population, Ms Wong highlighted the discrimination LGBTI individuals are subjected to regularly.

“The Marriage Act contains one of the last forms of legislated discrimination in Australia…it’s time it changed.”

Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus believes that appointing a specialized commissioner would be of great assistance in working against discrimination.