A group of Argentinian LGBT activists visited Sydney this month to congratulate Australian Marriage Equality national convenor Alex Greenwich on his marriage in Argentina to partner Victor Hoeld and to share their experiences with Australian activis

ts.

Argentinian LGBT People’s Federation (Federación Argentina de LGBT) president Esteban Paulón told the Star Observer he firmly believed Australia would be the next country to legalise same-sex marriage.

He said the atmosphere in the debate here reminded him of the months before the Argentinian Parliament voted to legalise same-sex marriage in 2010.

“Australian society is even more prepared than the Argentinian society was,” Paulón said.

“Here in Sydney, we see more than just a tolerance of LGBT people, we see an integration of LGBT people into the society that we didn’t have in Argentina in 2009 and it’s the natural next step for Australia to get same-sex marriage.

“We hope that the law will pass in August when the Australian House of Representatives has the debate.”

Paulón said marriage equality in Argentina had transformed the way society and the media viewed LGBT rights.

He said many Argentinians felt pride in their country’s progress on the issue which had translated into wider public support for other reforms such as the recently passed Gender Rights Law, dubbed the most progressive in the world.

“There’s a social feeling of pride around this in Argentina at the moment,” Paulón said.

“Both the gender identity law and equal marriage law passed with the support of politicians from all the political parties, though some more strongly than others. We think this also contributed to the feeling of pride in the society.

“Nowadays LGBT rights are an important topic and a relevant topic in the media and society and there is a lot of respect for LGBT people — mainly because a lot of people respect that we campaigned for the law, with a lot of patience in the face of what was thrown at us from opponents.”

Paulón said keeping your cool and not letting offensive opponents drag you down to their level was what would win the campaign in Australia and that opponents would most likely become more unreasonable in the months ahead.

“We had a really violent campaign against the law from the Catholic Church and evangelical churches but we never lost our calm,” he said.

With three of its provinces performing marriages for tourists, Argentina is expecting an influx of travellers from jurisdictions that recognise same-sex marriages but do not perform them such as Israel and Japan.

The Argentinian LGBT People’s Federation is now working with other activist groups in Latin America to see further reforms in the region.

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