Growing up in Adelaide’s North East suburbs of Holden Hill, the Hon Ian Hunter MLC was educated watching “Number 96” and “The Box” on television. At Gilles Plains High he excelled at English, Latin and Classical studies before studying Microbiology and Genetics at Flinders University.
It was here at uni that Ian “threw himself head first in gay community politics”. He was involved in a range of activities from setting up a “young gays” in Adelaide, being the University President of the Gay Society and was a founding member of the South Australian AIDS Action Committee (later to become the South Australian AIDS Council).
In the 1980’s Ian danced a lot for a year and in the early 80’s won a year’s free entry into Mars Bar by doing the Madison to Nutbush City Limits on roller skates at “GaySkate”.
It was during his activism for the LGBT community to have sexuality included as a ground of discrimination which passed in 1986, that Ian got his first taste for legislative success “and liked it”.
This took Ian on a career change from science to politics in his mid 20’s where he left gay community politics behind to join “big politics”. He has been an advisor to federal ministers and the South Australian state secretary of the Australian Labor Party before becoming an elected member of the SA Parliament.
Upon reflecting over his life before he became the Honourable Ian Hunter MLC, he jests “with the stroke of the electoral pen, a lifetime of dishonourable living has been wiped clean”.
Ian lives in South Australia with his partner Leith and their two dogs. He continues to speak passionately for LGBT rights, most recently calling on the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to recognise his 20 year relationship by allowing for same-sex marriage.
Over the years I’ve played a small part in the ongoing campaign for law reform. I see this current campaign as another aspect of the struggle for equal rights and I am happy to lend my name to it.
Like all of us – I’ve experienced the discrimination of societal disapproval. I’ve put up with verbal and physical abuse - I’ve been attacked in Rundle Mall leaving the cinema. And of course, my partner and I have not had the advantage in the past of having our relationship recognised by government departments or businesses. My former superannuation provider would not even agree to pass my super to my partner on my death.
These reforms provide very important rights and benefits to gay couples that they otherwise were not entitled to by dint of their relationship. In itself this is a great change.
But more importantly – these reforms remove or amend a huge number of laws which said – in effect – gays and lesbians, and their relationships, are inferior to the rest of the community.
And when the law sets out that a class of people are second class citizens … it creates the conditions that allow discrimination, verbal and physical abuse, bullying, and even murder.
When we change these laws, the government and the parliament is saying such attitudes are no longer acceptable in our modern society. It removes a very powerful support for those who wish to attack us. That’s why so many conservatives opposed them.
Because it celebrates a great win! And it lets our opponents know – in no uncertain terms – that we like the taste of winning … and we will be back for further fights … like marriage equality.
I have never seen so many laws changed so much at the one time in our favour. This wasn’t a grudging small incremental change … a crumb thrown from the table tossed at us. This raft of reforms represents a HUGE attitudinal change. And its ramifications will be echoing through government and Australian society for some time.