More than 250 Tasmanians joined a marriage equality barbeque on Sunday in Launceston, with special guests including Tasmanian Upper House speaker Kerry Finch.
Organisers hailed the event as a huge success which was intended to show community support for marriage equality ahead of a vote on the Tasmanian same-sex marriage bill, expected later this year.
“It was so inspiring to see people of all different generations and backgrounds being together to bring about social change,” event organiser Dr Marg Hughes said.
“Throughout the event a cohesive sense of community prevailed, as well as a belief in LGBTI peoples inherent dignity, personal worth and autonomy.
“One of my favourite reflections for the day was listening to Karen, who eloquently and courageously shared the experiences of transsexuals in the fight for marriage equality.”
Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome said the event sent a clear message that marriage equality was supported by a cross-section of the northern Tasmanian community.
“The Launceston BBQ showed that marriage equality is all about family and community, not a threat to them,” he said.
“I urge groups in other parts of regional Australia to take inspiration from the Launceston BBQ and hold similar events.
“Among the many wonderful recollections I have from the BBQ is seeing two men walking, happy, relaxed and hand-in-hand through Royal Park. When this can happen anywhere in Launceston, without an eyebrow raised, this struggle will be over.”
Tasmanian attorney general Brian Wightman and Tasmanian Greens senator Peter Which-Wilson also attended the event.
More than 250 hand-written messages were collected by organisers on the day. They will be put on display in or near Parliament House in Hobart when the bill returns.
In September last year, the same-sex marriage bill was voted down in Tasmania’s Upper House in a vote 8 to 6.
The bill had passed the Parliament’s Lower House without the support of Coalition members in August.
Since the bill was voted down, same-sex marriage advocates have continued campaigning for the law change.
In November, Premier Lara Giddings said her government would try to pass the bill “as soon as possible” after four US states changed their laws to allow same-sex marriage during the elections.
Tasmania was the first state to have a same-sex marriage bill pass through its Lower House.