The NSW Gay and Lesbian Lobby (GLRL) looks forward to the release of the Senate Committee report on the Inquiry into Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young’s Marriage Equality Amendment Bill due on November 26 and hopes the report recommends the proposed amendments.

On June 25 the Senate referred the Bill for inquiry and report. The Bill seeks to remove all discrimination from the Marriage Act on the basis of sexuality and gender identity and to permit marriage regardless of sex, sexuality and gender identity. Currently Section 5 of the Marriage Act discriminates against same-sex couples by defining ‘marriage’ as the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.

The Bill seeks to amend the definition of ‘marriage’ to provide that marriage is a ‘union between two persons’ and amend/remove other discriminatory language found in the Marriage Act, which would allow all couples the right to marry in Australia, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Bill also recommends Section 88EA be repealed to allow overseas same-sex marriages to be recognised in Australia. The GLRL supported these proposed amendments in our submission to the Inquiry which is available at www.glrl.org.au

The GLRL believes marriage is a civil institution which should be accessible to all citizens regardless of their sexual orientation. The current discrimination in the Marriage Act carries a social message that same-sex relationships are inferior and not deserving of the same respect and recognition as relationships between consenting heterosexual adults.

Since the passing of the 2008 federal law reforms, same-sex de facto couples enjoy the same rights and are subject to the same responsibilities (for example, in the area of social security) as heterosexual couples at a federal level, except for the right to marry. It is unjust not to grant comparable recognition to same-sex relationships through the institution of marriage.

Australia also falls behind many nations including Canada, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, South Africa and a number of US states (such as Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut and Vermont) who have now granted same-sex couples the right to marry.

The GLRL would also like to remind the community to come out in support of full marriage equality by attending the Rally for Same-Sex Marriage Rights coordinated by Community Action Against Homophobia this Saturday November 28, 1pm at Sydney Town Hall.

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