The 21st century hasn’t just seen Tasmania jump to the front of the pack on LGBTI law reform. It has also seen a giant leap forward on LGBTI government liaison and policy development.
In the same state where any discussion of homosexuality in schools was once banned there are now government strategies for addressing LGBTI issues in schools, and an LGBTI task group convened by the education department secretary.
There are similar LGBTI strategies and task groups in police, health, suicide prevention and even tourism.
Overarching it all is a whole-of-government LGBTI framework and an LGBTI consultative committee in the Premier’s Department.
Underpinning it all is an LGBTI grants program that helps community and government work together to ensure positive policies are properly implemented.
Having once been the most marginalised LGBTI community in Australia, the Tasmanian LGBTI community is now the most considered, consulted and planned for.
That makes the recent Tasmanian election important to LGBTI people around Australia.
Most of the initiatives I’ve cited occurred during the sixteen years of Labor rule from 1998 to March this year.
If the new Liberal Government retains and develops LGBTI consultation and policy it will send a message that there is no turning back.
If it abandons the achievements of the past it will show that LGBTI community development remains the plaything of partisanship.
In our favour is the fact that the ground work for what we have today was actually laid under a Liberal Government between 1996 and 1998.
That government initiated closer co-operation with the LGBTI community in policing and education and oversaw the development of the very first LGBTI government policies.
This shows that the development of closer ties between government and the LGBTI community is not based on the party in power but on growing community support for equality and inclusion.
Less auspicious is the presence of a determined evangelical caucus in the new government, including anti-marriage equality crusader, Guy Barnett.
I’m cautiously optimistic we can retain and develop the most important achievements of the past 20 years.
I’m also under no illusion that it will be a struggle.
But we’re used to that.