Former fitters and welders and crocodile catchers
from far north Queensland who look as if they nicked their tie collection from
Sir Les Patterson
aren’t usually big on gay rights. But Warren Entsch is.

The Liberal MP and former parliamentary secretary
has given a wide-ranging ranging interview to queer fortnightly The Pink Broad where he details his plans tosponsor a private member’s bill to eradicate discrimination and the
“inequities” faced by Australia’s gay and lesbian population under federal law.

“There’s
a couple of things I need to do first,” he says. “From the discussions I’ve had
in the party room and with a lot of my colleagues, I don’t think that there is
much awareness as to the extent of the discrimination… the unfairness.”

The
former RAAF man learned all about discrimination against same-sex couples in
the navy:

It came to my attention some time ago when a
navy fellow came in to see me about the fact that he was being posted [away]
from his base, and the navy was coming in and they were packing all his
personal possessions and relocating him to his new base. They were taking his
dog and his budgerigar, but they wouldn’t take his partner – his long term partner
– because he was of the same-sex. And, I mean, I found that quite offensive.
Now we have, in fact, moved and changed some of that – which I applaud – but
there are still a lot of areas out there that we seriously need to address.

Entsch is
currently putting together all the pieces of discriminatory Commonwealth
legislation, The Pink Broad reports. He thinks he’s in a unique position to
push for change:

I would think that if I was a gay activist,
people would say “Oh, just another bloody fairy out there trying to push his
own agenda,” but because of my background, people are a little bit puzzled by
it and sitting up and listening … and in fact I’m getting a lot of people that
are not gay coming up to me and saying to me “Hey, you know, we’ve got gay friends
and family too”. And this is what I’ve found here, in this place as well… mind
you, there are some who are still a little bemused. They don’t quite understand
it.

“I’m not
interested in promoting gay marriage and I’m not interested in Mardi Gras and
all that stuff. I’m only interested in equal treatment under the law,” Entsch
told The Sun-Herald recently.
But if he’s successful, stand by for a different lot of clones with mos paying
tribute in the Mardi Gras parade next year.

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW