Monday, 5 November 2012

Senator Penny Wong (1968 – ) Australian.  Politician

b.  5 November 1968

Australian Labor Party senator for South Australia and the Federal Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Wong is the first openly gay member of the Australian federal cabinet, and the first Asian-born federal minister.

Born in Malayaysia, she arrived in Australia as a child. As an immigrant from a minority ethnic group, she faced many difficulties (including at times direct racial abuse)but overcame these, to forge a successful career in law, as a barrister and solicitor in Adelaide and an adviser to the Carr Government in New South Wales, before entering politics. She has been open about her sexuality since 2002, and was the first sitting member of the Australian Labor Party to "come out" while still in parliament.

In August 2011, she announced that she and her partner, Sophie Allouache,are expecting a baby. The child was conceived by IVF with the help of an anonymous sperm donor, but done outside of her home state of South Australia, where IVF treatment for gay couples is illegal. Nevertheless, the news made hardly a ripple in Australia - a measure of how easily gay and lesbian relationships are now accepted in Australia. Although the influence of the Catholic Church is strong and Australia remains a generally socially conservative country, it has also become a very tolerant country, content to leave decisions on personal morality as just that - strictly personal.

Wong was named by the Australian LGBT site "Same Same" as one of the 25 Most Influential Gay and Lesbian Australians. In 2007, 2008, and 2010. Controversially, she was initially reluctant to go against her party's officially declared stance against same-sex marriage - which may explain her otherwise surprising ommission from the list in 2009. She has since dropped her reluctance, and has become a firm advocate for changing the party policy (which it may well do at the federal conference in December 2011). Her entry on the Same Same website notes that subsequently, as soon as nominations opened for the 2010 list, nominations for Wong came pouring in.


Penny Wong , Wikipedia
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