Rainbow Campus at Sydney University hosts ‘wilfully disobedient’ same-sex wedding ceremony

Rainbow Campus at Sydney University hosts ‘wilfully disobedient’ same-sex wedding ceremony
Image: Rainbow Campus Sydney University Wedding. Photo: Shannon Power

A YOUNG Taiwanese couple were wandering around the University of Sydney campus when they noticed a succession of rainbow flags, which they followed until someone invited them to attend the Rainbow Campus’ Big Rainbow Wedding.

Anna Yeh, 26, and Avis Fan, 25 from Taiwan – where marriage equality is officially illegal – have been a couple for seven months and said they were not able to resist the invitation to attend an event surrounded by rainbow flags, but could not anticipate how emotional it would make them.

The Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association (SUPRA) and the Rainbow Campus groups joined forces to host Our Rainbow Wedding which, was aimed at letting the Australian Government and the management University of Sydney know it was time to accept marriage equality and other LGBTI issues.

Three same-sex couples tied the knot in a show of ‘wilful disobedience’ and to persuade the university to implement six steps to be deemed a Rainbow Campus including, signing onto a marriage equality pledge, enabling trans students to change their names, Safe Schools training for all staff, gender neutral bathrooms, 24 hour access to LGBTIQA+ spaces and student club funds devoted to LGBTQI+ programs.

The wedding ceremony was performed by Reverend Karl Hand and heard from the couple professing their love to each other throughout the ceremony.

Katrina Fox told her new wife, Tracie O’Keefe, that growing up she knew conventional marriage was not for her and as a child not being attracted to men meant that romantic love was never going to be part of her life.

“I used to sing along to Goodbye to Love… because I didn’t want to marry a man, I thought love was off the table,” she said.

“But you have shown me a constant, deep love.”

But for Yeh and Fan who had not planned to attend a protest same-sex wedding today, they were still deeply moved by the ceremony.

“She (Fan) was really moved and emotional,” Yeh said.

“It was something nice to do as a couple and it’s (marriage) is all about family,” Fan said.

Ahmed Suhaib helped organise the event through his work at SUPRA but was also one of two lucky people to catch the bouquet after the wedding.

“This is a human rights issue,” he said.

“I think we achieved something huge today, and it’s about helping people be treated how I want to be treated.”

Ahmed Suhaid with his bouquet. Photo: Shannon Power
Ahmed Suhaid with his bouquet. Photo: Shannon Power

The Rainbow Campus group had invited Sydney University’s Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson and Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence along to the event, but both declined to attend.

Star Observer contacted the university to ask why they declined the invitation, but did not receive a response by deadline.

“We formulated the Rainbow Campus campaign strategy about nine months ago,” organiser Rachel Evans said.

“We presented it to the university, we launched it on campus… and then we had a meeting with management and they said ‘no’.

“They originally in emails and discussions were fairly effusive, so we were hopeful they were going to sign on. Then we had a meeting with them and they said there were two things they found very difficult.”

Those things, according to Evans, were marriage equality and creating all gender bathrooms for gender fluid students.

“That’s why we organised today and it was a rip roaring success,” Evans said.

Following the wedding ceremony, the guests glitter bombed the offices of the Spence and Hutchinson.

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