Around 400 people joined last Sunday’s gay rights rally at Sydney Town Hall before marching through the streets to St Mary’s Cathedral.
Police blocked traffic from sections of George, Goulburn and Elizabeth Streets to provide safe passage for the marchers until they made their way through Hyde Park and on to the Catholic church.
Labor MP Tanya Plibersek received a frosty reception when she addressed the crowd at Town Hall, with many people shouting shame over Labor’s decision not to oppose the government’s legislation banning same-sex marriage and overseas adoption in the Lower House.
Labor didn’t vote for this legislation. We allowed it to pass the House of Repre-sentatives so it could go to a Senate inquiry, Plibersek said.
She said entering submissions to the inquiry was the best way to deflect the homophobic agenda of this government rather than fight on [John Howard’s] terrain when there are so many more important battles to be had.
Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore said the government’s claims of protecting traditional marriage were similar to the idea last century that denying women the vote protected democracy.
She said gay and lesbian couples in long-term relationships had the right to have them recognised.
Other speakers at the rally included gay rights activist Rodney Croome, Luke Gahan from Australian Marriage Equality, Greens Senate candidate John Kaye and Alex Day from the Canterbury Bankstown District Gay and Lesbian Social Group.
The event was organised by CAAH (Community Action Against Homophobia), who said the protest was a huge active submission to the Senate committee investigating the federal ban on same-sex marriage and overseas adoption.
The deadline for public submissions to the Senate committee is tomorrow, 30 July. The committee will present its findings to parliament on 7 October. Several hundred submissions have reportedly been received.
Luke Gahan warned that some Christian groups had entered large numbers of submissions opposing same-sex relationship recognition and urged the queer communities to make their voices heard.
Bill Muehlenberg from the Australian Family Association is mobilising his members, Gahan said. Whether they intend to marry or not, LGBT people should not let this issue go by without speaking out.