Protesters demand equality

Protesters demand equality

Close to 1,000 people took to the streets last Sunday to demand equal rights for same-sex couples.

The crowds gathered at Taylor Square at 1pm before marching to Town Hall in a sea of pink hearts and banners.

Politicians, gay activists, community members and their friends called on the Howard Government to remove legislation that discriminates against same-sex couples, including the 2004 ban on same-sex marriage.

Without universal access to marriage, Greens Senator Kerry Nettle told protesters, we can never have full equality.

It is remarkable that the Howard Government continues to deny so many Australians the right to marry based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, she said.

Openly gay Labor MLC Penny Sharpe recounted a children’s birthday party she attended which would have appalled John Howard.

There were lesbians who had children and there were gay men who had children and there was a range of people who were straight, she said.

All of whom were appalled at the 58 laws that actively discriminate against gays and lesbians, Sharpe said, as pointed out by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission report, Same Sex: Same Entitlements.

Protesters called for same-sex parenting rights, including recognition by the NSW Government of same-sex adoption and the dropping of the Howard Government’s proposed ban on same-sex couples adopting overseas children.

To say that same-sex couples should not adopt, PFLAG speaker Gillian Maury said, was patently ridiculous and simply highlights ignorance and bigotry.

And to deprive children the chance of a happy, loving childhood because of such ignorance is nothing short of scandalous, she told protesters at Town Hall.

The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) would kick-start the action at next week’s meeting with the Attorney-General Philip Ruddock, GLRL speaker Ghassan Kassisieh said.

The Lobby had already met with the shadow attorney-general Joe Ludwig, who said the ALP would introduce full de facto reforms.

Kassisieh acknowledged that de facto reforms were a great step forward, but said there would be no equality until full marriage rights were granted to all.

He informed protesters that the suburbs of Darlinghurst, Kings Cross, Woolloomooloo, Paddington and Potts Point now fall in the Wentworth electorate.

Malcolm Turnbull is your elected representative, he said. Give him a call tomorrow.

NSW Council for Civil Liberties spokesman David Bernie said the community wanted to know where Turnbull stood in regards to gay and lesbian rights.

It is all very well for him to say he is great friends with the gay community, he said. But we want action, not tokenism.

Rachel Evans, from the Socialist Alliance, said a poll commissioned by SBS News in early 2005 showed that 30 percent of Australians were in favour of same-sex marriage. This figure had jumped to 57 percent, Evans said, in a Galaxy Poll in 2007.

We are not subhuman, our love is not second class, she told the crowd. And we know when our rights are being attacked.

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