Protest for equal rights

Protest for equal rights

It is the largest annual demonstration for queer rights in Australia, and now this weekend’s National Day of Action has garnered the support of more than 70 organisations.

Thousands of people are expected to gather in Taylor Square at 1pm this Sunday 12 August before marching to the city in support of equal rights for same-sex couples.

The National Day of Action marks the third anniversary of the 2004 Marriage Amendment Bill, which banned same-sex marriage in Australia.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) activists will be rallying in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Lismore and Brisbane, to demand the Government repeals the ban.

This year’s protest comes in the wake of intense media scrutiny of the Government’s proposed ban on same-sex overseas adoption (details: page 9).

It is another reason to join the National Day of Action on 12 August, Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (VGLRL) spokesman John Klopprogge said.

A host of politicians and activists will be speaking at Sydney’s National Day of Action rally, including Australian Greens Senator Kerry Nettle, NSW Labor MP Penny Sharpe, NSW Council of Civil Liberties spokesman David Bernie and a PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) spokeswoman.

Senator Nettle recounted her experiences in the Senate chamber in 2004, when the Marriage Amendment Bill was debated.

I remember hearing the vitriol and the hatred from people who were speaking in favour of that legislation, she said.

It is really important to keep remembering that day, because it shows us our benchmark of what we have got to change.

NSW Labor MP, Penny Sharpe, an openly gay mother of two in a long-term relationship, said it was important for LGBTI people to get out and make sure the issues affecting our community are in the public domain.

The biggest challenge we face is legal discrimination, she said.

Legal discrimination leads to instability, and for some families this leads to social hardship.

The best chance we have got of getting equal recognition is through a Rudd Labor Government, and through support from some of the minor parties.

The Howard Government had failed to support equal rights for same-sex couples, NSW Council of Civil Liberties spokesman David Bernie said.

They have failed to really address superannuation and they have failed in regards to equal pension rights for defence personnel, he said.

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock gave the pathetic response of -˜it will cost money’. It’s like saying we won’t have equal pay for women because it will cost money, or we won’t have equal rights because it will cost money.

Bernie said the NSW Council of Civil Liberties had long believed all people should have access to all rights irrespective of gender or sexual orientation.

PFLAG spokeswoman Gillian Maury acknowledged that not all couples wanted marriage, but said they should all have the option in a fair society.

People who argue that children need a mother and a father have not read the evidence that children thrive with parents and extended family and friends who love them, regardless of sexuality, she said.

Senator Nettle said there was so much scope for the Howard Government to improve on the current discriminatory legislation.

Right before an election is traditionally not the time that a government will respond, she said.

But you never know, if the community voice is loud enough, then why not?

Sydney’s National Day of Action rally has been endorsed by a number of organisations, including New Mardi Gras, the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH), Sydney Star Observer, PFLAG, Metropolitan Community Church, the Gender Centre and the NSW Council for Civil Liberties.

National Day of Action rallies -“ Sydney: Sunday 12 August, 1pm, Taylor Square, Oxford St ( Melbourne: Sunday 12 August, 11.30am, State Library, Swanston St ( Perth: Tuesday 14 August, noon, Parliament House. Lismore: Saturday 11 August, 11am, Spinks Park. Brisbane: Sunday 12 August, 9.30am, Powerhouse car park.

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