First openly gay state MP Paul O'Grady dies in Sydney-->
Originally published: The Sydney Morning Herald online 18 January, 2015.
By Sean Nicholls
The NSW parliament's first openly gay MP, Paul O'Grady, has died aged 54.
Mr O'Grady served as a Labor MP in the NSW Legislative Council between 1988 and 1996. He disclosed his sexuality publicly in 1990.
Upon retiring from parliament he revealed in a television program that he had HIV/AIDS.
Mr O'Grady used the program, on the now defunct Channel Seven current affairs show Witness, to highlight discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS.
The year earlier, in 1995, he had introduced a voluntary euthanasia bill to the NSW Parliament but then premier Bob Carr said he believed it was impossible to put into law.
"At some point, if I need to, I hope that I can hold out my arm one day or one night and have a little needle which takes me off, quietly and peacefully after I've said my farewells," Mr O'Grady said in the Witness program. "That's how I'd like to do it."
Mr O'Grady told the Herald at the time: "I never want to go to hospital."
He was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 and died in Sacred Heart Hospice in Darlinghurst on Sunday morning.
Most recently, Mr O'Grady made headlines in 2013 when he appeared as a witness at the Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry into corruptly issued coal licences.
Mr O'Grady's office in the NSW Parliament was next to that of corrupt former Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid.
When Mr Obeid told the inquiry his fellow Labor MP Ian Macdonald – who the commission found corruptly issued a mining licence over land owned by the Obeid family – had never visited him in his office, Mr O'Grady told ICAC this was untrue.
He said he saw Mr Macdonald "coming and going back and forth all the time". Mr Obeid later admitted to giving incorrect evidence.
A close friend, NSW Labor MP Lynda Voltz, said Mr O'Grady was "tenacious and extraordinarily clever, with a little bit of the Machiavellian in there".
"Paul would never take a backward step on something he really believed in," she said.
Opposition Leader Luke Foley said he was devastated by news of Mr O'Grady's death.
"Paul was a friend of mine," Mr Foley said. "He was someone I often turned to for advice."
He noted Mr O'Grady's "incredibly powerful evidence" to the 2013 NSW parliamentary inquiry into medicinal cannabis which preceded Premier Mike Baird's decision to conduct a clinical trial.
"I think Paul's evidence went a long way to convincing all of the members of the committee to recommend the legalisation of cannabis for the terminally ill," Mr Foley said.
Originally published as: First openly gay state MP Paul O'Grady dies in Sydney