The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) acknowledges the comments made recently by federal Opposition leader Tony Abbott supporting the implementation of federal anti-discrimination legislation.

On March 25 Abbott admitted on Melbourne gay radio station JOY 94.9 that his earlier comment that he felt “threatened” by homosexuals and that homosexuality “challenges orthodox notions of the right order of things” were a “poor choice of words” and declared the Liberal Party’s support for a federal anti-discrimination law that would include protection for gays and lesbians.

Despite supporting the implementation of federal anti-discrimination legislation to protect lesbians and gay men from unfair discrimination, Abbott also said in the same interview that marriage should remain between a man and a woman.

Abbott said that people close to him were gay and said, “I like to think that it hasn’t made me love them any the less or treat them differently”. However, as the leader of the federal Opposition, he is committed to treating lesbians and gay men differently from heterosexuals by supporting the Marriage Act as it currently stands, which denies lesbians and gay men the right to marry.

Marriage is a civil institution, governed by secular laws, which apply to everyone. All people should have the right to marry, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The GLRL would welcome federal anti-discrimination provisions that offered fully comprehensive and inclusive protection against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. These provisions would be a firm step forward in recognising the rights of LGBT persons.

However, the GLRL also recognises that there is greater work to be done to achieve full legislative equality. Reform to the NSW Adoption Act, and NSW surrogacy laws, as well as the federal Marriage Act is needed in addition to federal anti-discrimination provisions. Only once these reforms have been achieved will lesbians, gay men and their families be treated equally under the law, a basic human right that should be afforded to all people.

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