Melbourne’s Equal Love rally drew another strong crowd on Saturday as protesters again took to the streets to call for marriage equality in Australia.
Melbourne rallies have attracted consistent numbers in recent years and this rally was no different. More than 2000 people gathered on the steps of the State Library, double that of similar rallies in Sydney and Brisbane last month.
In a speech to crowds, Equal Love convenor Ali Hogg highlighted high rates of self-harm among same-sex attracted young people and said Australia’s current ban on same-sex marriage only contributes to feelings of isolation.
“As long as the law says one section of society [is] able to get married and another section can’t, [GLBTI] people are going to continue to feel less equal,” Hogg said.
“We can’t sit back and rely on the politicians to change the Marriage Act some time in the future, or whenever the hell they feel like it, or whenever it suits them.
“We need to change the Marriage Act now, not just so people can get married, but because anything short of full marriage rights means we’re going to continue to be unequal in the eyes of the law, and it’s going to continue to mean people are going to want to kill themselves.”
Openly gay comedian Joel Creasey took his opportunity in front of the microphone to deride Opposition leader Tony Abbott for his anti-gay marriage stance.
“Don’t deny the right of people to get married just because it’s not something you believe in,” Creasey said.
“I personally don’t think it’s appropriate for a hairy old man to run all over Bondi beach shaking his junk in a dirty old Speedo, but hey Tony, I don’t stop you from having your fun.”
Minus18 convenor James Campbell said homophobic attitudes at large and the ban on same-sex marriage have an impact on young people struggling with their sexuality or gender identity.
“To have members of Parliament, to have our prime minster, publicly declare their strident opposition to equal marriage for the sake of political expediency, not only denies two people the fundamental right to join together in a loving bond, but sends a blatant message to our youth that society does not view each and every person as truly equal,” he said.
“When we remove this entrenched discrimination we pave the way for more than simply two people of the same-sex [marrying].
“We pave the way for the social change that is absolutely vital in securing the health and welbeing of our young people well into the future.”
Cabaret performers Dolly Diamond and Luke Gallagher lent their hosting skills to the event and treated the crowd to an adapted version of John Paul Young’s classic Love is in the Air, changing the lyrics to “equal love is in the air”.
Other speakers included TransGender Victoria spokesperson Sally Goldner, National Union of Students queer officer Jade Eckhaus, a representative from union United Voice (formerly the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union), and Drummond Street Relationship Centre CEO Karen Field.
Field told the crowd she and her partner of 18 years were preparing to celebrate their daughter’s engagement party, while they were legally unable to marry themselves.
info: The next Equal Love rally will be held in August