Australian politician Penny Sharpe has delivered a heartfelt speech in parliament, after the NSW government banned a documentary about same-sex parenting from being shown in classrooms.
The furore over Gayby Baby, a film about same-sex parenting, was sparked yesterday after The Daily Telegraph alleged that parents had complained about the film. In response, the NSW government banned the film from being shown during school hours.
Sharpe, who is a member of the NSW Legislative Council, slammed the Telegraph's coverage as "nasty" and "ill-informed", saying it came from people who had not seen the film.
"There are days when the politics of the day touch you personally," Sharpe said. "Today is one of those days."
"I have been with my partner for 22 years. I am the proud mother of three children, aged 16, 11 and 5," Sharpe said. "My partner of 22 years, and the other mother of my children is a woman."
"As politics and my personal life collided today, what became clear is that in the eyes of some, I am not normal and my children are not normal."
"It is time for this to stop. I am normal. My kids are normal. Being gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender or intersex is normal. It is called being a human being. Aspiring to have a family is normal. Creating LGBTI families is normal."
"The profound truth of parenting and the great diversity of families is that in every family, no matter what its structure, every parent is doing their best, but none of us are perfect."
Sharpe condemned those who spoke negatively about the film and same-sex parenting, saying that discrimination and stereotypes cause serious harm to LGBTI people.
"LGBTI families do not need your judgement, we do not need your advice, and we do not need your feigned concern," she said.
"What we need is to be given the respect that we give every family, no matter its structure. What our children need is to be able to live their lives in loving families without discrimination and without having others tell them they are not normal."
"Bullying, self-harm, suicide and homelessness are all too real," she added. "There are too many people who have lost their lives in the fight for acceptance."
Sharpe also thanked Ebony, Gus, Matt and Graham, the four children who appear in the film.
In a column yesterday, News Corp commentator Piers Akerman took direct aim at Ebony, quoting the dictionary and census figures to tell her that her family isn't normal. Ebony is 12 years old.
"Your stories are very ordinary stories. What makes you extraordinary is the dignity, humour and resilience you bring to your families and our community," Sharpe said to the four children.
"We are lucky to have you."
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews posted a message on Facebook condemning the actions of the NSW government and saying "I'm on your side" to LGBTI young people.
Several other politicians have spoken out in support of the film, including senators Penny Wong and Janet Rice, and member of parliament Kate Ellis.
Lane Sainty is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Contact Lane Sainty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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