MP pays emotional tribute to gay 15-year-old nephew who died by suicide
An MP in Australia paid an emotional tribute to his gay 15-year-old nephew who died by suicide in a speech against the anti-LGBT+ Religious Discrimination Bill.
Speaking in parliament, Labor MP Stephen Jones hit out at Scott Morrison’s government, describing its failure to tackle corruption and pointing out the staffing and funding “crisis” in Australia’s care homes, and added: “There are 10 sitting days remaining in the 46th parliament… These are the matters we should be focusing on in the final weeks of this parliament.
“Instead we are debating a bill which pleases no one.”
Morrison’s Religious Discrimination Bill, introduced last November, would allow faith-based organisations like schools, churches and workplaces to discriminate against protected groups, including LGBT+ folk, as long as their “statements of belief” don’t “threaten, intimidate, harass or vilify a person or group”.
Although it was recently agreed that the bill will no longer allow for kids to be expelled from Australia’s schools because of their sexual orientation, this will still be possible for trans kids, and all LGBT+ kids will still be susceptible to other kinds of discrimination.this will still be possible for trans kids, and all LGBT+ kids will still be susceptible to other kinds of discrimination.
Jones told parliament: “Last week my family said farewell to my nephew Ollie. He was just 15 when he took his own life.
“No mother or father should have to endure this sight… He was a beautiful, creative, courageous young man. He was loved and accepted by his parents, by his family, by his friends and community. His mum and dad are in anguish. We all are.
“He was gay. He was uncertain about his gender and struggled with his mental health. But now he is gone and we will no longer be able to love him and support him on his journey through life. Clearly the love and acceptance of his family and friends were not enough.”
Jones described his own son as a “beautiful, creative, intelligent 14-year-old”, who “designs and makes his own clothes”, is a “a gifted makeup artist” and “moves seamlessly between the wardrobes of men and women”.
“He wears heels that give me vertigo and has more handbags than his sister,” he added.
While Jones said his son has “more courage than any boy I have met”, he explained: “I worry myself sick every time he leaves the house. I think to myself, ‘You look beautiful, but do you have to go out looking like that?’
“Because I know that the love and protection that he enjoys with his mother, with his friends and family is very different to the reception he may receive in the outside world.
“Could this be the day when we get a call telling us that something has happened? That he has been attacked just for being who he is?
“This is about my kids, but it’s not. It’s about all of our kids. It’s about about the families and every child who has the courage to swim against the tide just to be who they are.”
— Stephen Jones MP (@StephenJonesMP) February 8, 2022
In a plea to Morrison, he said: “I’d ask the prime minister and every other member in this place to put themselves in the shoes of the parents or the heels of their kids as they step out in public.
“What message do we want to this parliament to send to these kids? Are they as loved and cherished and respected as every other kid? Surely we aren’t saying to them, ‘It’s OK if you are gay, just so long as we can’t see it.’ Surely we can do better than that.”
Jones said that “every parent of every gay or trans kid knows” that love and support at home isn’t enough to keep them safe.
Urging MPs to stop the Religious Discrimination Bill from passing, he said: “There have been too many funerals and too many grieving families. We have in our gift the power to do something. Let’s not let the opportunity pass.”
Readers in the US are encouraged to contact the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255, or The Trevor Project which provides 24/7 crisis support, 365 days a year. Text START to 678-678, or call: (866) 488-7386.