Members Statement: Midsumma Festival

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) — Over summer I attended events as part of the Midsumma Festival, including the Pride Shabbat service at Temple Beth Israel; Carnival Day; Pride march, where we had our biggest Greens contingent yet; and the Marriage Equality and Beyond forum put on by Queer Greens Victoria. The festival brought people from a wide range of backgrounds together in the celebration of our LGBTI community.

However, I am deeply concerned about the recent ugly attacks on our efforts to support LGBTI equality: the hateful attempt to sabotage the same-sex gender diverse formal which I am glad to see backfired spectacularly; the proposal to suspend vilification laws for the marriage equality plebiscite; and the campaign to shut down the Safe Schools Coalition which has now be given oxygen by the Turnbull government with a review into the Safe Schools program.

I am always heartened by the welcoming and inclusive approach of the many religious people, organisations and schools that I meet with. But it has become clear from these hateful and homophobic attacks that we can no longer leave the protection of LGBTI Victorians from discrimination — if you will excuse the pun — in the hands of the gods.

I released the Victorian Green Equality Bill, which removes most of the religious exemptions from Victoria's Equal Opportunity Act. If enacted, it will mean that all Victorian people, including school students and staff, will be protected by law from discrimination, regardless of whether they attend or work at a religious or secular school or social service. I urge all members to support these changes.