New Vic Premier still a homophobe?

Liberals switch on the renewable leader with Denis Napthine: pic by TakVer

Many Liberals evolve over time. I hope the new Liberal leader Denis Napthine has done so. He has made some remarkably anti-gay remarks in the past.

He voted against the extension of assisted reproductive treatment to lesbians couples, and he voted against the Victorian legislation offering registration of pre-existing de facto same sex relationships.

The Age March 13 2008 reported:

GAY and de facto couples will be able to formally register their relationships in Victoria after the Legislative Assembly last night passed historic legislation that split the Coalition.

Liberal leader Ted Baillieu supported the Government bill, which will allow couples to record their relationships with the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriage.But his new Coalition partner, Nationals leader Peter Ryan, opposed it, as did several Liberal frontbenchers including treasury spokesman Kim Wells, transport spokesman Terry Mulder, shadow attorney-general Robert Clark and former leader Denis Napthine

No sign of much change, then since 2001, when the Victorian Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby reported in that he opposed Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon and the police joining the Pride March in uniform.

State Liberal Leader Dennis Napthine. “Not appropriate”, he said. “Nothing against lesbians and gays, but they shouldn’t flaunt it.”

He also opposed a small grant made to educate lesbians about cancer. He explained that he thought it would be just as inappropriate for police to march in uniform at a recreational fishermen’s convention and that breast cancer education funding should be allocated “by need, not sexuality”.

VGLRL responded:

Napthine’s inability to distinguish between an innate characteristic (sexual orientation) and a chosen recreation (fishing) and his failure to recognise that sexuality might raise special health education needs (disclosure, confidentiality, incidence and prevalence) is evidence that we still have some way to go with education of key decision makers.

Let’s hope there’s been some intensive re-education since then. BNEWS reported, also in 2001

The hostile reaction of Liberal leader Dr Denis Napthine to the Bracks government’s grant to the Lesbian Cancer Support Group has drawn criticism from lesbian activists, and raises the question of whether the Liberals have really changed their spots on gay and lesbian issues.

It is an absolute and utter disgrace and shows the priorities of this government,” said Napthine of the $25,000 grant. “I don’t have a problem if people choose to be homosexual, but I do have concerns about flaunting that lifestyle.”

Showing that his “concerns” are not only economic, Napthine also said that Victorians would be “horrified” at the decision to light up the Arts Centre spire with pink lights during the Midsumma Festival. The spire, he said, would be “used a beacon for gay and lesbian lifestyles.”

If anyone has evidence that this particular leopard has changed his spots, the stirrer would love to hear from you.

Meantime the new Premier is busy cosying up to the man who toppled Baillieu, Geoff Shaw. His dislike of homosexuals not in doubt.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)