Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby Wants Your FeedbackThere are still challenges ahead for the NSW GLRL before social and legislative equality are achieved.

The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby has been around for nearly 30 years. In that time we’ve seen a significant amount of change, but there are still plenty of challenges ahead before we can achieve social and legislative equality.

The reason we’re still here is because we want to lead the fight for substantive equality and social justice for lesbians, gay men and their families.

So far

We’re proud to have stood up for issues that have impacted on the lives of many in our community. Our advocacy has resulted in some important and necessary changes to ensure we are treated equally. Since homosexuality was decriminalised in 1984, Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers (GLLOs) have been introduced into police stations (in 1990), the age of consent was made equal (in 2003), and just 18 months ago, the ‘gay panic defence’was finally abolished in New South Wales.

Over the past 20 years, we’ve seen greater recognition of our rights. In 1999, laws were introduced to recognise next of kin, hospital and relationship rights for same-sex couples. In 2008, laws were changed so that co-mothers could become legal parents of children. That change was just one of many which happened because of 58 ’08, one of the largest campaigns we’ve ever undertaken. Sweeping changes passed through parliament meant that same-sex couples were now recognised across a wide range of laws including Medicare, family law, child support and superannuation. Two years later, same-sex couples would finally have the right to adopt children; the change passed the Legislative Assembly by just two votes.

We’ve achieved a lot since we were founded in the late 1980’s. The political landscape has changed, and levels of acceptance are at the highest they’ve ever been. But we’re still hearing too many stories of people being discriminated against, people being unwilling victims of homophobia because of who they are. Our mission to achieve full equality has not weakened at any point. If anything it has only gotten stronger. It never has been OK to treat us as anything less than equal, and it never will be.

Marriage equality

While we’ve made some fantastic progress, there is still work to be done. We’ve spent so much time campaigning for marriage equality. We know it’s nearly here; we’ve been agonisingly close for a while. Debate is now at the point of marriage equality potentially being decided through a plebiscite. We think it’s unnecessary; politicians have the power to change the Marriage Act. It’s been done before to ban same-sex marriage, it can be done again to pass it. But if we do need to go to a public vote, we know that we can win it.

Other social and legislative changes

We also know that there is a lot more than just marriage equality that needs to be achieved. Exemptions still exist in anti-discrimination laws in areas such as education, community services and aged care. Anti-vilification laws needs to be changed so that homosexuality is treated the same. Our work as a part of the Safe Schools Coalition needs to continue so that school students are not bullied because of who they are.

Further efforts are needed to ensure that all intended parents are recognised as having children. We need to make sure that the school curriculum specifically includes LGBTI people, bullying and discrimination. Levels of violence and homophobia are far too high, and more needs to be done to improve the mental health and wellbeing of people in our community. This year is an election year; it’s an opportunity for us to push for important change.


Our cause and our organisation exists to fight for our community. We need your support so that we can continue that fight. We’re hearing more often of ‘war chests’ of donations being collected by our opposition, campaigns that say, ‘There’s more to it than we think,’ and that our ‘choices’ can be respected but laws should not be changed. We know that’s not right. You know that’s not right. Let’s do something about it.

There are a number of ways that you can get involved. You can become a member of the GLRL and have a say in how we should operate and the issues we should be fighting for. You can make a monthly regular donation; contributing the cost of a cup of coffee each week can often make a big difference. You can join us at Rainbow Run at Sydney Park on 27 February, a community fun run that will help us raise money for our campaigns this year. You can donate your time and play a pivotal role in helping us shape and deliver our campaigns. Or you can find us at Fair Day; swing by our stall and tell us what’s important to you.We’re a community organisation, and we want to best make sure we represent it as best we can. Every person in our community is important; we want you to be heard and we want you to join us in helping make that change. We’ll be as strong as you want us to be. Let’s make change happen.