Photo Credit Alison Standen Facebook. Alison Standen, left, and Kate Grady.
Alison Standen has become Tasmania’s first openly lesbian member of parliament.
During the divisive and hate-filled Australian same-sex marriage postal survey in October last year, Labor’s then candidate for the seat of Franklin in Tasmania, Alison Standen, told The Mercury why she was running for public office.
“In years to come, whether I’m elected or not, I want to be able to look into my son’s eyes and say I stood up for my community.”
Alison, 49, her partner of almost a decade, Kate Grady, 46, and their nine-year-old son Nick, made the decision for Alison to run for public office together.
“We knew that our sexuality and our family life would potentially be under the spotlight in stepping out in this way,” Standen told The Mercury.
“We decided together that the timing was right to, as a family, commit to this endeavour.”
During the campaign, Standen spoke of her commitment to fighting for equality.
“Leadership to me is about connection to values; and about courage to stand up for the things that matter most to me – including LGBTIQ rights and addressing social inequality in general,” she said.
“I haven’t always dreamt of being a politician or a gay activist. But this campaign has given me and my family the opportunity to stand up and contribute as advocates.”
Photo Credit Alison Standen Facebook. Alison left, Nick and Kate.
Standen and Grady still remember Tasmania in the 1990s, when the government repeatedly refused to pass laws decriminalising private same-sex sexual acts and when homophobia was rife within the media and community. Tasmania was finally forced to decriminalize homosexuality in 1997. In 2017, the Tasmanian Government officially apologised to members of the LGBT community who had been historically affected by laws which criminalised homosexuality.
Grady told The Mercury last year that the hatred of the same-sex marriage postal survey No campaign reminded her of the homophobia that caused her to leave Tasmania in 1990s, when many gay people relocated to the mainland, stayed in the closet or committed suicide.
“There are echoes of that era in the current survey campaigns,” she said.
“We’re just our family, we’re just us, but with the debate going on and the vitriol and hatred from people we don’t know ... my bubble is burst and I feel like I’m back in 1992.”
Tasmanian LGBTI rights campaigner, Rodney Croome congratulated Alison on her win and commended the positive tone set in the state election.
“Her election confirms that being gay is not a barrier to holding high elected office in Tasmania,” he told the Star Observer.
“It also confirms just how far Tasmania has come since it was the last state to decriminalise homosexuality twenty years ago.”
“Although there were some anti-LGBTI leaflets distributed in northern electorates by the Australian Christian Lobby, there were no locally-based attacks against the positive record on LGBTI human rights of any candidate or party,” he said.
“This is the first time this has happened since LGBTI human rights became a public issue in Tasmania in the 1980s.”
“I have no doubt that it was due in large part to growing public awareness of Tasmania’s strong and comprehensive hate-speech laws.”
“I think I speak for many Tasmanians when I say I hope the 2018 election sets a positive precedent for future state elections being free of anti-LGBTI hate.”