Penny Wong: LGBT’s political ally in Australia
As the first lesbian to be elected in the legislative government of Australia, Penny Wong is in the news for her aggressive push for same-sex marriage.
This was a far cry in her first few years as senator in 2002, when she was against same-sex marriage.
Penny Wong: Same-sex marriage views
A Christian and an out lesbian who doesn’t agree with the statement as she was never “in”, Penny Wong believed back then marriage was only for men and women.
It drew hostile criticism from Australia’s first openly gay senator, Bob Brown, who was hoping for an ally in Penny Wong.
Political office then changed the views of Penny Wong, and she’s now pushing Australia to adopt the same equality that Catholic Spain, Canada, and South Africa have in viewing same-sex marriage.
“Let’s be really honest about who has been respectful and who hasn’t in this debate,” she told Buzzfeed.
“Do the people arguing for equality ever diminish the relationships of heterosexuals? Do the people arguing for equality ever say that children of heterosexual couples are compromised?” she added.
That’s Penny Wong with her 180 degree view of the LGBT people.
Penny Wong: Australian and Malaysian
Penny was born in Malaysia on November 5, 1968 to a Malaysian Chinese father, Francis Wong, and an Australian mother, Jane Chapman Wong.
When her parents divorced, she, her mother and her brother moved to Adelaide, South Australia.
Her first bachelor course was medicine but after a year as an exchange student in Brazil, she realized she was squeamish about blood. She shifted to pre-law and found her calling.
It was while being a student leader at the University of Adelaide when Penny realized what she was.
She was very active in university politics, especially after she led the campus Labor Club where she was described as relentless.
As one of the leaders, she was more involved in the details, in the numbers-crunching, and in the flow of the organization– as opposed to the others who were simply putting up posters as a means to campaign.
This character is what she would bring to national office.
Penny Wong: Senator of the people
Penny practised law from 1996 to 2002 until she joined the preselection for the Senate in 2001. Landing the top spot on Australia’s Labor Party, she won in the 2001 election and was inaugurated as senator in July 1, 2002.
Ten days after she was elected, her brother Toby, killed himself in what Penny believed to be was racially-induced.
Racial discrimination became her top priority with her first speech as senator touching on many areas of racial inequality in Australia, given that she was a multi-raced person herself.
“I want to make special mention of my younger brother Toby, who turned 30 on the day I was elected to this place, and died 10 days later,” she said.
She declared: “Your life and death ensure that I shall never forget what it is like for those who are truly marginalised.”
Penny Wong: LGBTQ political ally
Since she was part of Labor Party, she had to accede to their stand against same-sex marriage, albeit with hesitation. When the party view changed, she was the first to push hard for it.
She argued that having religious freedom doesn’t give you the freedom to ban same-sex marriage.
“Religious freedom means being free to worship and to follow your faith without suffering persecution or discrimination for your beliefs. It does not mean imposing your beliefs on everyone else,” Penny said in a speech.
Penny has two children with her partner Sophie Allouache whom she met during her stint as a student leader.