Sunday, August 31, 2008

Labor's new gay senator Louise Pratt calls for same-sex marriage,25197,24259191-5013871,00.html

Patricia Karvelas, Political correspondent | August 29, 2008

LABOR'S new gay senator Louise Pratt, who makes history as the first member of parliament with a transgendered partner, has used her maiden speech to break from ALP policy and call for gay marriage to be legalised.

The former West Australian state MP is the third openly gay member of the current senate, along with Greens leader Bob Brown and Climate Change Minister Penny Wong.

In her speech, Senator Pratt, 36, revealed that her partner, who was born female but has changed gender, faces discrimination that she wants to end.

"I look forward to a time when we will have removed at a federal level all discrimination on the grounds of gender identity and sexuality, to a time when my partner is not denied a passport because his gender is not recognised under our laws; to a time when my friends' children all enjoy the same rights and protections under commonwealth law regardless of whether their parents are straight or gay; to a time when if my gay friends wish to be legally married, they can be."

She told The Australian she understood Labor policy was opposed to gay marriage, but her situation meant she wanted to see change.

"As a person personally affected, I can't help but be disappointed," she said.

Senator Pratt's partner of two years, Aram Hosie, was born female, came out as a lesbian at 15 and began transitioning to male in 2006 at the age of 23.

In her maiden speech, Senator Pratt said: "Conservative forces in this country do not offer the kind of leadership we need to face this and other challenges. Far from it: they have a history of fostering division."

Senator Pratt's advocacy for gay and lesbian rights will challenge the Rudd Government.

Kevin Rudd, a conservative on the issue of gay marriage, pushed for watered-down gay marriage laws in the ACT and scuttled a plan to introduce civil unions for same-sex couples.

The ACT Government was forced to scrap its bid for gay marriage laws after the Rudd Government refused to support the move on the grounds the arrangement mimicked marriage.

In her speech, Senator Pratt said that as a state MP she fought against homophobia in Western Australia.

"I was, and I remain, very proud to have been part of the West Australian government that completely removed this discrimination against same-sex couples and their children in all state laws," she said.

Senator Pratt's partner is the founding president of the WA Gender Project. He has challenged the policy position of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade regarding passports, which restricts transgendered people to having a passport in their original gender, and lobbied the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission to conduct an inquiry into rights issues for
gender diverse people in Australia.

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