Martin Foley has been appointed as Victoria's Equality Minister after the new Victorian Labor government, led by Premier Daniel Andrews, was officially signed in on Thursday morning. Mr Foley, who is the country's first-ever Minister for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex issues, announced that his two foremost priorities will be in relation to the state's adoption laws:
- Ensuring adoption rights for same-sex couples, who are currently only permitted to be foster parents or guardians.
- Ensuring that mothers can view information regarding the children that they were required to give up under previous policies.
Through the historic appointment, the Andrews Government has shown an early commitment to matters of discrimination, as a list of other key issues that were raised during Mr Foley's announcement on Thursday included:
- A rewriting of the equal opportunity laws to protect employees of faith-based organisations from discrimination based on sexuality or religion.
- Support for gay students as part of the safe schools coalition initiative that applies to government secondary schools.
- The repeal of section 19A of the Crimes Act to address discrimination against HIV-positive people.
The state's supportive gay community, including the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, has raised a single concern in response to Mr Foley's announcement, as an initial review has been slated prior to the introduction of legislation into parliament. The concern is based on a similar review that occurred under the Brumby government in 2007, and the delay that a review represents in the current situation. However, Mr Foley delivered a swift reassurance, explaining that a review would be conducted "expeditiously" to ensure a smooth, problem-free process.
Mr. Foley's notability does not end there; in addition to his equality portfolio, he has been assigned with the most number of portfolios out of any minister under Premier Andrews. Last week, he was also sworn in as the Minister for Creative Industries, while he is also responsible for housing, disability and ageing, and mental health.