Pride WA welcomes State Opposition’s pledged reforms

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PRIDE WA has welcomed reforms pledged by the State Opposition to address the high rates of suicide in the LGBTI community.

WA Labor recently released policies “recognising the urgent need to ensure targeted services are available for the LGBTI community in areas of high priority, with a particular focus on education, mental health, health and policing”.

LGBTI people are 14 times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers, and rates of depression are more than five times higher among transgender people and more than three times higher among lesbians, gay and bisexual people than in the general population.

Historical convictions recorded under now-defunct laws targeting gay people will be expunged as part of the reforms.

Pride WA senior vice-president Michelle Rogers welcomed the proposed measures.

“We are not a political organisation but we are very concerned with human rights. We think the announcement is fantastic,” she said.

WA Attorney General Michael Mischin recently said expunging historical convictions for so-called ‘homosexual offences’ would be a “positive and symbolic as well as practical step towards equality”.

“Work has been done on this to determine a ‘best practice’ model for achieving that end, and although I cannot commit Government by pre-empting any decision by Cabinet, the Premier has told me he is supportive of that objective,” he said.

Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said Labor would eliminate any discrimination against LGBTI people and their families in WA laws, building on a strong record of reform in this area.

“Importantly, we will also protect and support young LGBTI people by ensuring public secondary schools can choose to participate in the Safe Schools program if Federal funding is withdrawn,” he said.

Ms Rogers said Safe Schools was an important strategy.

“Sadly in our schools we know that people are still bullied either because they are LGBTIQ or they are perceived as being LGBTIQ,” she said.

“There is still a stigma attached. It is important that they feel safe and happy at school.”

The Pride festival is on this Saturday in Northbridge, with the march starting at the corner of William and Brisbane streets at 8pm.