The Rudd Government has announced a Senate Inquiry into same-sex marriage.
The inquiry follows the tabling of a private members bill by Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young. If passed, the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2009 would grant same-sex couples equal marriage rights and recognise unions entered into abroad.
It seeks to remove all discrimination based on sexuality and gender identity from the Marriage Act 1961.
Although a closing date for the inquiry is yet to be announced, the government is calling from submissions.
The International Gay and Lesbian Association (ILGA) has voiced support for the bill and called on Australia’s major political parties to support it.
ILGA said it would be targetting the inquiry as a way of drawing attention to homophobic laws in the Australian, New Zealand and Pacific Island region.
-œILGA is still increasingly concerned over Australia’s reluctance to formally recognise same-sex relations, representative Simon Margan said.
-œAustralia signed the United Nations statement on recognising human rights for LGBT people, but needs to follow through with legislation that puts this mandate into practice, by removing all institutional persecution of LGBT people’s relationships.
ILGA will discuss if Australia should be included on its list of countries which institutionally persecutes LGBT people at its next international board meeting.
Same-sex lobby groups are already planning protests around the country to coincide with the ALP national conference on August 1.
Equal Love, the national campaign behind the August 1 protests, welcomed the inquiry. Group spokesman Martin Baldock said momentum for gay  marriage was gathering across the country.
-œThe launch of this inquiry sends a clear signal to the federal government that marriage equality is not an issue that they can sweep under the rug and ignore, he said.
-œIt’s an issue that is going to keep coming back … until they recognise the common humanity of all Australians and introduce equal rights for everyone.
The Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby will be formulating a submission.
-œAny chance to look at the issue in a formal environment is positive … regardless of what people think on either side, the bottom line is people should be equal, spokesman Anthony Bendall said.
info: Equal Love has created five web-based advertisements and will release them over their campaign for same-sex marriage. Visit: www.youtube.com/user/EqualLove09

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