A Mexican gay rights group will rally outside the Australian Embassy in Mexico City this Friday to protest against the Howard government’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Protest organiser Tony Pitman, an Australian member of the Mexican Forum Of Gay Men, said he wants to make the world aware his homeland is actually a very intolerant and homophobic place.

Many people here have the impression Australia is a haven for gay and lesbian people, so we want people to know it’s not, that the current federal government is very hostile to gay and lesbian rights, Pitman said.

Around a dozen protesters are expected to take part in the rally, which is expected to get coverage in the Mexico City press.

Pitman moved to Mexico from Melbourne in February this year to live with his Mexican boyfriend. I’ve been interested in the issue of same-sex marriage for many years and been lobbying for it in Australia, he told Sydney Star Observer.

When I heard about the amendments passed in August I decided to do something to draw attention to that backward step. I talked to the people here at the Forum Of Gay Men and they agreed to do a protest.

The idea that same-sex marriage represented a threat to traditional marriage -“ a notion which was perpetuated by the Howard government -“ is completely false, Pitman said.

Same-sex marriage poses no threat to anyone. It simply recognises the equal rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and treats them as they should be treated -“ as equals.

Luke Gahan, the newly elected national convenor of Australian Marriage Equality (AME), was pleased to hear of the protest and said it was only a matter of time until the dirty linen of our nation was to be aired overseas.

Our -˜fair-go’ image is being scarred internationally. The federal government must recognise the world is watching and much of the globe does not like what they are seeing, Gahan said.

AME this week announced they have adopted a formal structure and constitution, and are now offering membership of the organisation.

As well as Gahan’s appointment, the AME committee elected Geraldine Donoghue as deputy national convenor; former deputy mayor of South Sydney Council Peter Furness is national secretary; and Peter Fitzpatrick is national membership officer.

AME are excited to offer full membership of the organisation and are looking forward to welcoming new members ready to take up the fight for marriage equality, Gahan said.

The year 2004 has been a rollercoaster year for marriage equality in Australia.

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