MEDIA ALERT AND PRESS RELEASE
Equality Australia Legal Director Ghassan Kassisieh and CEO of the BlaQ Aboriginal Corporation Shane Sturgiss
2 August 2023 – Almost six years after the national postal survey on marriage equality, LGBTIQ+ groups around the country have united in support of the Voice to Parliament.
In partnership with BlaQ Aboriginal Corporation, 22 LGBTIQ+ groups from around Australia on Wednesday joined together in support of the Yes campaign for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander constitutional recognition.
Equality Australia, the organisation that grew from the overwhelmingly successful 2017 postal survey, said there were many parallels between the marriage equality vote and the push for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
“When there was a public vote about our lives, the majority of Australians had our back and it’s time to pay it forward,” said Equality Australia Legal Director Ghassan Kassisieh.
“We know that laws and policies are better when governments listen to the voices of people who are most affected.”
Shane Sturgiss, CEO of the BlaQ Aboriginal Corporation, said it was time to bring allies together and build a groundswell of support.
“This is the second time our community has had the entire nation eyeballing them, knowing that conversations are being had about them in homes around the country and not all of them are favourable,” he said.
“Our queer community knows full well the fight for equality and to have our rights recognised. We know change is possible.
“The Voice stems from decades of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander activism and it’s a much needed reform to ensure Aboriginal people have a say in the issues that affect us.
“A Yes vote in the referendum will ensure First Nations people are recognised, bringing a level of fairness and equality that has not been seen in Australia before.”
After consulting with its supporters, Equality Australia found widespread support for the Voice with 89.55% of people saying they would vote Yes in an online survey of 4078 people.
171 people (4.28%) were unsure of how they would vote and 231 people (5.78%) said they would vote No.
Equality Australia on Wednesday released an artwork in recognition of the ties between the First Nations and LGBTIQ+ communities and calling for support for a Yes vote.
Created by artist Wayde Clarke, known as Alejandro Lauren, a Wiradjuri and Birpai man and member of the LGBTIQ+ community, the artwork of the Inclusion Flag is comprised of journey lines and meeting places which symbolise the inclusion of everyone and the importance of recognition.
“I wanted to bring Australia and everyone’s journey into the artwork, into all the different colours, just to make it inclusive because a world that has inclusivity is a world that I want to live in,” the artist said.
“I’ve had to vote yes, twice. I’ve had to vote Yes for marriage equality… and now I’m having to vote Yes to have a voice here in Australia and to have my people a part of the constitution.
“I would love for you to love the artwork and vote Yes, too.”
Anthony Venn-Brown, Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International (ABBI):
“The LGBTQ community knows what it is like to be marginalised, disadvantaged, and discriminated against. Therefore, we have no hesitation in standing with our LGBTQ indigenous family and the entire community for equality by supporting wholeheartedly The Voice to Parliament.”
Ashley Scott from Rainbow Families:
“At Rainbow Families we stand with our First Nations community in asking Australia to vote Yes in the upcoming referendum. We encourage all Australians to honour the Uluru Statement From The Heart, and provide a First Nations Voice to Parliament.”
Gil Beckwith from Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras:
“The Voice to Parliament aligns with Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras’ core values of diversity, inclusion, and empowerment. We stand for giving a platform to underrepresented voices, and supporting the Voice to Parliament is a crucial and natural extension of our commitment to celebrate all facets of our community.”
Jason Tuazon-McCheyne from The Equality Project:
“We believe that LGBTIQA+ communities have an important role to play in raising awareness and rallying support in solidarity with Indigenous people. As communities that experience stigma and marginalisation, we understand the significance of recognition and belonging. We know what it feels like to be excluded, and we understand the importance of having a voice in shaping the issues that affect our communities. This cause resonates deeply with many of us, igniting a profound sense of empathy and a determination to ensure that Indigenous communities are treated with the fairness and respect they rightfully deserve.”
LGBTIQ+ organisations and businesses:
Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International (ABBI)
Bisexual Alliance Victoria
Blaq Aboriginal Corporation
Dowson Turco Lawyers
Health Equity Matters
LGBTIQ+ Health Australia
Living Proud WA
Pride Foundation Australia
South Australian Rainbow Advocacy Alliance
Stonewall Medical Centre
Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras
Thorne Harbour Health
Victorian Pride Lobby
Media Contact: Emily Mulligan, 0411 207 633, firstname.lastname@example.org
Footage of the artwork, an interview with the artist and the artist at work in his studio can be provided by Equality Australia.
Art by Wurudjeri and Birpai man, Wayde Clarke. Also known as Alejandro Lauren, @alejandro_lauren_