‘I am young, I am gay, I am black’ – First openly gay Indigenous man elected to parliament in Australia

Chansey Paech – First openly gay Indigenous man elected to parliament in Australia

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Chansey Paech told the Northern Territory parliament this week that he was “eternally proud of who I am and where I come from”.

“Madam Speaker, I am young, I am gay, I am black, a true blue Territorian,” were just a few of the words that Chansey Paech used while speaking at the opening of the 13th Parliament of the Northern Territory in Australia.

Mr Paech also used his new political platform to put a heavy emphasis on the importance of marriage equality in the country.

“I am a Centralian man. I am the nation’s first openly gay Indigenous parliamentarian. I am eternally proud of who I am and where I come from. I own it and wear it with pride,” he explained.

“I look forward to the day when this country will recognise my rights as equal rights, when I too can marry in my country, on my country, as a recognised first Australian.”

Paech, who won the central Australian seat of Namitjira for Labor, joins 12 women and six Indigenous people in the newly elected parliament.

Buzzfeed news reports that he was the victim of a smear campaign during the election period, with his opponents allegedly attempting to use his sexuality against him.

Paech commented that those who battled against him believed remote Aboriginal voters would be less likely to support him if they knew about his sexuality.

“That kind of language the electorate didn’t respond well to. The most beautiful thing was when I was at a remote community [campaigning] and people said to me, ‘They said you were a gay and we said we didn’t care, we just want houses,’” he explained to Buzzfeed News.

In addition to speaking on the environment and the economy, Mr Paech also pledged to work with his new colleagues to combat discrimination throughout the Northern Territory.

“I will stand proud with my Labor colleagues across our vast lands to ensure that all Territorians have equality and that we reach a time when our first Australians are constitutionally recognised,” he told parliament.