Thousands of people are expected at this weekend’s gay and lesbian rights rally at Sydney Town Hall to protest in favour of equal relationship recognition before the law.

The rally will be held on Saturday 26 June at 1:30pm in response to the federal government’s decision to outlaw same-sex marriage and attempt to ban overseas adoption. It has been organised by the NSW Gay And Lesbian Rights Lobby, ACON, New Mardi Gras and the Sydney Pride Centre.

In the last few months the Howard government has made blatant attacks on our community. It has attempted to wind back our rights, entrench discrimination in legislation and has made offensive comments about our families, said Somali Cerise, Rights Lobby co-convenor. Not even Play School has been safe from attack. It’s time for our community to stand up and be heard.

Speakers at the rally will include Reverend Dorothy McRae-McMahon, Stevie Clay-ton, Cerise and Rights Lobby co-convenor Rob McGrory, while entertainment will be provided by singer Mark Trevorrow. More speakers were still being confirmed.

Meantime, the gay and lesbian community got some good news from Canberra this week, with the Senate passing the federal government’s same-sex super legislation. The new legislation means a surviving partner of an interdependent relationship can claim the death benefit of their loved one and not be forced to pay a death tax on the payment.

This is a major federal step forward in recognising both the rights and the humanity of Australia’s lesbian and gay citizens, openly gay Democrats senator Brian Greig said.

However, the reform doesn’t remove all discrimination against lesbian and gay people and the new definitions of interdependent relationships don’t go as far as many had hoped, Greig said.

Rights Lobby co-convenor Rob McGrory welcomed the legislation but said there was a risk some same-sex couples could miss out, because recipients would have to prove both financial and emotional dependence.

Federal Labor MP Anthony Albanese said the Howard government had gone to great lengths not to specifically mention same-sex relationships in their super legislation so as not to alienate the right-wing conservatives.

The government did mention same-sex partners in an anti-terrorism bill which was introduced into the lower house last week by Attorney-General Phillip Ruddock. In it the definition of a family member includes a same-sex partner.

This week the Greens launched their same-sex marriage campaign in Newtown, with their candidate for the federal seat of Sydney, 27-year-old Jenny Leong, pledging to fight for the rights of same-sex couples to marry and adopt children.

Gay marriage not an election issue

Same-sex marriage will not be debated in the lead-up to this year’s federal election, after last minute efforts to keep the issue alive in parliament were defeated.
The ALP, Greens, Democrats and some independents voted yesterday afternoon to send the Marriage Act Amendment Bill to a Senate Committee for analysis, despite a Liberal Party call to push on with the debate. The Senate agreed to hear back from the committee on Thursday 7 October.

Democrats senator Brian Greig told the Senate it would not be appropriate at best, and malicious at worst to debate the complex issues surrounding same-sex marriage in the lead-up to an election.

The polarised and volatile environment of an election campaign is not the place to debate and resolve such issues, Greig told the Senate.

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