Forty students protested Australia’s gay marriage ban with a kiss-in at Parliament House’s Great Hall on Saturday.

The demonstration by delegates from Queer Collaborations was the first time marriage equality activists had attempted to protest inside the seat of power.

Equality protester Hannah Lewis said the kiss-in was a public way to make a statement that equal marriage rights were necessary.

We need to have gay rights now, we need to have equal rights now, she told Sydney Star Observer.

We chose to do a kiss-in because it’s a very powerful symbol of how we feel about love.

Those involved were individuals who were passionate but also part of a building movement, Lewis said, including the National Day of Action on 1 August.

The importance of having the kiss-in within the Great Hall is because that’s the heart of government and it’s government who we need to support us right now, particularly given the current Senate inquiry into marriage, Lewis said.

Parliament House security was advised of the protest in advance, which was visible to tourists but not noticeably disruptive.

Australian Federal Police officers at the scene warned the protesters they could not publish photographs of the inside activities without prior consent from the Speaker of the House -” even to Facebook.

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