GLBTI

Sydney has the largest GLBTI community in Australia, and throughout my career as a Councillor, Member of Parliament and Lord Mayor I have championed causes that promote respect and celebrate diversity.

When I was elected to the NSW Parliament, homophobia was rife, and homophobic slurs were common.

My 1993 Homosexual Anti-Vilification Bill which became law made it illegal to incite hatred of gay men and lesbians. I remember the pathetic scene of Fred Nile leaving hospital in his pyjamas in a wheel chair so he could vote against the bill.

I held forums in Parliament to discuss discrimination of people living with HIV/AIDS and the availability of drugs. In 1992 I lobbied the Health Minister, St Vincent's Hospital Board and finally the Premier to achieve six new AIDS beds at St Vincents as patients were suffering in the overcrowded casualty ward.

I saw my friends die from AIDS and suffer discrimination even in death when family members failed to honour their wishes over their estate or their request to be buried with their partner.

I introduced my Significant Personal Relationships Bill in 1997 to protect all relationships. While it did not pass this Parliament, it became a model for Tasmanian and Victorian legislation, and was the basis for a register in New South Wales introduced by the former Government.

2010 saw the introduction my Adoption Amendment (Same Sex Couples) Bill, which passed in a nail biting conscience vote. Now children can be adopted by both their parents if they are in a same sex relationship.

I was a very early supporter of gay and lesbian rights and the first member of the Legislative Assembly to march in Mardi Gras.

As Lord Mayor I established a dedicated GLBTI community program officer role at the City of Sydney. Since 2010 we have flown the rainbow flag above Sydney Town Hall to mark the beginning of the Mardi Gras Festival. Two hundred rainbow banners have also been flown along Oxford and Flinders Streets since 2005.

After the removal of the much-loved rainbow crossing in Taylor Square in 2013, I worked with the community and council to establish a permanent public art work to celebrate the contribution of our GLBTI community.

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