Tim Wilson, member of the Australian Parliament, publicly proposed to his boyfriend (and he said yes!). In this exklusive interview, Tim Wilson tells us about being gay in the political arena.
Théo, Project Leader at RAHM: Hello Tim, as Member of the Parliament of Australia, you defended and voted for same-sex marriage. But there is more: You proposed to your boyfriend in Parliament and he said yes! The international press has widely reported about it. Can you explain to us why you chose to act on such a public level? What is the power of such symbolic acts?
Tim Wilson: Honestly, it was the only way to thank my partner for supporting me through such a difficult political period. It was also to send a message to the rest of the community that they can start doing the same.
Théo: You made 2017 more beautiful. If we look back, we can unfortunately still hear the disgraceful words of Donald Trump, who announced – as usual with a tweet! – the ban of transgender troops… but the worst was the murders of LGBT people in Chechnya and the detention of hundreds of LGBT people in concentration camps. How should political leaders react when it comes to such indecent events and decisions in the rest of the world?
Tim Wilson : It’s really difficult. Sometimes strong Western responses can help fuel the attacks on LGBTI people because it feeds into a government’s hostile narrative. We have to be tactical, and work publicly and behind the scenes, as well as support local groups to stand up for themselves.
Théo: The RAHM Contest and Community is about LGBT leadership and leadership of LGBT people. LGBT leadership means: being LGBT is a quality which matters in leadership, and leadership of LGBT people means: being a leader is important for getting the chance to really impact our society on a social, political or economical level. As a politician, what do you think is more important: power at the cost of not being out or being out at the cost of power?
Tim Wilson : I made a conscious decision to seek power and be myself, and accept that people may not want to vote for me for that reason. But most people don’t care. They’re more interested in your values and what you are going to do. Authenticity is king in modern politics so honesty is a point of strength.
Théo: Diversity and inclusion, equal pay, the same chances at being promoted, the fight against harassment: All are still burning issues in enterprises… As a politician, if you could put forward a proposal of Law to improve the situation, which would be your priorities?
Tim Wilson: These are all issues that sit on the long path toward greater justice. Not all can be fixed by laws. My interest would be in ensuring the support services are available for those people who have no one to turn to.
Théo : Thank you so much for your answers so far ! Last question though… if there is a LGBT leader of Australia which the rest of the world should know about it, who would that be in your eyes?
Tim Wilson: Good Question! My Parliamentary colleagues – Senator Dean Smith, Trevor Evans and Trent Zimmerman who I worked with to deliver marriage equality in Australia, and Warren Entsch who is a straight crocodile farmer who fought hard as well.
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