Australia to get second lesbian parliamentarian (Jan 2)

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

australia to get second lesbian parliamentarian
News Editor

Senator-elect for Western Australia Louise Pratt has become the second openly lesbian woman - after Climate Change Minister Penny Wong - to serve in newly-elected prime minister Kevin Rudd's administration.

Louise Pratt, a former Western Australia Legislative Council member, will take up her Senate seat in July this year. She had notably become the youngest woman ever elected to the Western Australia Legislative Council at the time of her election in 2001.

Having served as a regular spokesperson for prominent advocacy group Gay and Lesbian Equality in WA before her appointment to the Legislative Council, the 35-year-old Labor Party member has been credited for playing a significant role in a gay and lesbian law reform committee that pushed for the passage of the Acts Amendment (Lesbian and Gay Law Reform) Act 2002. It is considered to be some of the most progressive laws in the country. The reforms included a complete ban on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, the granting of the right for same-sex couples to adopt children, a lowering of the age of consent from 21 to 16, the right for same-sex couples to inherit from a deceased partner, and the repeal of legislation which had made it an offence to promote homosexuality in schools.

Pratt was quoted as saying in the gay Sydney Star Observer that law reform for same-sex couples and GLBT individuals would be high on her agenda and has vowed to ensure that her party makes good on its promise to implement all 58 federal laws which discriminate against gays and lesbians.

“It is very exciting to be coming in with the change in government,” Pratt said.

“I think we can already begin to see how different the political landscape is going to be. With (former PM) John Howard gone, we have a much less conservative Opposition leader as well as a Labor government.”

Defending her party’s resolve to reform gay and lesbian laws nationally, she said, “I can only go from my experience. At a State level, we promised we would reform the law and we did.”

“We have committed to changing the laws at a national level, and Kevin Rudd is already asking his Cabinet colleagues to pursue election promises.

“The proof will be in the pudding, and I look forward to having that dialogue with the lesbian and gay community as we undertake the reform agenda.”

Her other key policy interests as stated on her web site include environmental issues; refugees, minority and gender equity issues; social, economic and environmental sustainability; and family policy, including child welfare, adoption, childcare and life work family balance.