Same-sex laws positive, but more needs to change
DESPITE the same-sex marriage law now in place across Australia, one gay man said Ipswich still had a long way to go to eradicate homophobia.
Steven Purcell is the former Greens candidate for the seat of Jordan and a proud gay man who has been in a same-sex relationship with partner Kerryn Thorne for more than 10 years.
He said while the introduction of the new laws was exciting, he still regularly faced discrimination because of his sexual orientation.
"The victory is bitter-sweet. I had always intended to have a wedding and now it's a great relief to know that it will be legally recognised,” Mr Purcell said.
"We will be able to celebrate our love and commitment to each other which will bring me a lot of joy and at the same time we will remember the long and sometimes painful journey to get to this point.
"As a local candidate I have experienced insults and personal attacks at every election and I don't expect this to stop now.
"I'm hopeful the changes to the marriage act will help future generations avoid this abuse and be able to experience life without discrimination.”
The Same-Sex Marriage Bill was passed in Parliament on December 7, 2017 with the first day of legally recognised same-sex marriages commencing earlier this week (December 9).
Mr Purcell said even though the changes were positive, he still felt homophobia was rife in Ipswich and Springfield and felt it was up to community leaders to help stamp it out.
"Ipswich has never really accommodated the LGBTIQ community and I include Springfield in this,” he said.
"In my twenties I was too afraid to go to venues in the region for fear of violence and while it has gotten better, unless our leaders work to overcome the homophobic stigma attached to Ipswich, it will take a long time for things to change.
"There are a few small organisations like PFLAG, the Queensland Action Group for LGBTIQ Students and the Pride Business Network which operate around the area.
"Homophobia is still prevalent in our community, maintained by the silence of the majority of elected officials and church leaders who lack the courage to speak out against this discrimination.
Mr Purcell and Mr Thorne hope to get married later this year at Montville's The Chapel venue.