The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) will hear a complaint challenging the Australian Government’s ban on same-sex marriage.
Community activist and International Lesbian and Gay Association representative for Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, Simon Margan, submitted the complaint on Wednesday.
Margan told the Star Observer he had been working on the complaint for some time, and that due to a lack of broad legislation covering sexuality discrimination he was challenging the ban from a sex discrimination angle.
“The AHRC is very limited in the extent that it can look at sexuality discrimination, so the main focus will be the sex discrimination angle,” Margan said.
“Many legal cases have said that sexuality discrimination is just a smaller category of a broader category of sex discrimination.
I’m also looking at the marital status discrimination side of the ban. The definition of marriage in the legislation that the AHRC works from isn’t gender specific and it actually works as a superior legislation to the Marriage Act.
“There are other related human rights issues that I’ll be looking at when we get down to discussing the complaint at the first conference with the government — religious freedom and things like that.”
Margan said it was difficult to know in what time frame the complaint would be heard but he was hoping to see it resolved quickly.
“I doubt it will take longer than it takes the Parliament to get its act together on legislating, but if it does, obviously, my complaint will become superfluous,” he said.
“The AHRC has made recommendations to the Government in the past on what reforms need to be made so I’m hoping it can be an added incentive to the legislation that’s already been planned.”
Margan said the AHRC mentioning the ban on same-sex marriage as an area of discrimination against sexual minorities in its report to the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review of Australia’s human rights was a good sign of which way the commission might lean.
“If they find it’s sex discrimination that’s fantastic and they could invalidate the same-sex marriage ban,” he said.
However if the outcome is that the AHRC does not find the ban to be discriminatory, Margan is prepared to appeal the decision in the federal courts.