Global Voices: Australia kicks off with diverse LGBTIQ leaders in Melbourne

The GLAAD Global Voices journey to Australia kicked off with a series of meetings and trainings to equip Melbourne’s LGBTIQ leaders to advance acceptance and support for LGBTIQ people and laws that protect them. Ray Bradford, GLAAD’s Director of Entertainment Media, and Ross Murray, Director of Programs, Global and US South, have been listening to advocates talk about the issues facing LGBTIQ Australians, and in turn building an alliance between the various organizations in Australia and GLAAD.

One of the main pillars of GLAAD’s activity in Australia was a training with 20 LGBTIQ leaders in Melbourne, representing LGBTIQ advocacy in law, education, racial justice, business, labor, sports, immigration, refugees, transgender people, and politics. Attendees shared stories of successes and challenges, both in the state of Victoria and in the Australian Commonwealth overall.

GLAAD discussed our programs and talked about how we work with the media to advance a worldview of LGBTIQ acceptance. Ray and Ross presented data from GLAAD’s Accelerating Acceptance reports, outlined the import on LGBTIQ lives of fair, accurate and inclusive images and content in entertainment media, and provided best practices for pitching stories to the media, training spokespeople, and collaborating with other organizations to accelerate acceptance and equality.

The training was organized by The Equality Project, an emerging organization to foster collaboration among the various LGBTIQ organizations in Australia. The Equality Project founder, Jason Tuazon-McCheyne has been a major host to GLAAD while in Melbourne, helping connect GLAAD’s expertise in media advocacy with the on-the-ground leaders addressing various aspects related to Australia’s LGBTIQ community.

Outside of the training, GLAAD met with Tim Wilson, a Member of Parliament and a former Human Rights Commissioner. GLAAD had consulted with Wilson last year, in anticipation of a possible public plebiscite, or referendum, on marriage equality. The plebiscite did not materialize, and Australia continues working toward marriage equality.

GLAAD also met with leaders of Bisexual Alliance Victoria and Transgender Victoria, two organizations that work closely for visibility and protection of bisexual and transgender people in the state. They discussed the need for medical care that treats bi and trans patients with respect, the adverse impact of erasure within the overall community, as well as representation in the media. They were interested to adapt GLAAD’s resources to help advance their work in Australia.

The Melbourne portion of the GLAAD Global Voices continues with an interview at JOY 94.9, Australia’s national LGBTIQ radio station, as well as a public panel alongside Australian LGBTIQ leaders. From there, GLAAD will head to Sydney to present at the Mardi Gras Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, participating in public forums, on-stage panels, roundtable discussions, and one-on-one meetings with content creators and industry leaders to create more fair, accurate, and inclusive LGBTIQ representation.