We’re inviting you to have your say on a marriage plebiscite


27 August 2015

The New South Wales Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (NSW GLRL) and Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (VGLRL) firmly believe marriage equality should be achieved through a vote of the Parliament.

“The High Court has made it clear that it is within the power of Parliament to legislate for marriage equality. A plebiscite is a costly way of resolving a matter that should be the responsibility of Parliament. Estimates have placed the cost of holding a plebiscite at over $120 million,” said NSW GLRL Co-Convenor, Justin Koonin.

Nevertheless, the political risk of the Government independently setting the terms for a plebiscite is real. The NSW GLRL and VGLRL therefore welcome the Senate’s move to establish an inquiry into a national vote on marriage equality, which will provide an opportunity for the community to be heard on the terms of any plebiscite including whether there should be one.

“We are aware of concerns about the impacts a protracted public debate on young or vulnerable LGBTI people and their families. What we have seen in recent weeks is no matter what kind of a debate occurs it will be divisive and may impact on the mental health of LGBTI people,” said VGLRL Co-Convenor, Sean Mulcahy.

The NSW GLRL and VGLRL have partnered in developing a short survey to gain the views of the LGBTI community on whether there should be a public vote on marriage equality and, if there is a vote, when and how it should be held and what can be done to protect vulnerable LGBTI people.

LGBTI community members can have their say in the online survey here by 3 September.

The NSW GLRL and VGLRL will be making a submission to the inquiry and will include the views of the LGBTI community within their submissions.

Announcing our new campaign: Nation of Hearts

NSW GLRL Launches ‘Nation of Hearts’ Campaign to Mark 10th Anniversary of Iconic ‘Sea of Hearts’

Ten years ago today, on Saturday August 13, 2005, the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby launched its iconic ‘Sea of Hearts’ campaign at Victoria Park, Camperdown, in protest against the Howard Government’s 2004 ban on marriage equality.

According to the co-convenor of the time, Julie McConnell, “Last year’s marriage ban was a statement based on discrimination and prejudice against lesbians and gay men; it was a statement which said that our Love is not equal. We will be planting pink hearts to show that our relationships with each other, and with our children, are equal and deserve full legal equality.”

Those words ring as true today as they did exactly ten years ago. Current GLRL convenor Dr Justin Koonin says, “We are deeply disappointed with the decision of the Coalition party room to deny its members a free vote on marriage equality, to deny the will of the vast majority of Australians, and to deny LGBTI Australians their right to equality, dignity and respect.”

In the past ten years, the landscape of rights and social attitudes to LGBTI people in Australia has shifted markedly, with upwards of 70% of Australians now supporting marriage equality. Technology has changed too, and today the ‘Sea of Hearts’ becomes a ‘Nation of Hearts’.

All Australians, as well as our friends around the world, are invited to participate in our ‘Nation of Hearts’ campaign. This can be done by downloading our Nation of Hearts image and following the instructions on the sheet. Once planted, take a photo of your heart with its individual message of love and upload to the ‘Nation of Hearts’ Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter or email us your photo and we will upload it to our cyberspace garden (which can be viewed using the hashtag #nationofhearts).

Dr Koonin says, “We hope that this campaign will celebrate the diversity of which we can be so proud, united behind the idea that our love is more important than our differences.”

Download the Nation of Hearts image.

Where you can upload your images and take part:

Facebook: Nation of Hearts

Instagram: @nationofhearts

Twitter: @NSWGLRL

Email: nationofhearts@glrl.org.au

A new GLRL website is on its way!

We’re currently in the process of developing and publishing content on our brand new website (we hope you like our makeover!)

Once we’re done, you’ll be able to navigate our website more easily, find out in our new campaigns section what lies ahead to have social and legal equality for gay men, lesbians and their families, and also provide more opportunities to interact with our members and the greater community.

If there’s something in particular that you’re after and can’t find on our website while we re-build it, send us an e-mail through our Contact Us page, and we’ll respond to you as soon as we can.

Thanks for your patience and understanding.

The GLRL team.

The GLRL is proud to announce the launch of Stand UP!


The GLRL is proud to announce the launch of Stand UP! – our anti-discrimination workshops generously supported by a Commonwealth Attorney-General Human Rights Education Grant.

Our series of rolling, consultative workshops are aimed at uncovering and identifying the areas of life in which people experience discrimination and harassment. They will also provide information on your rights to enjoy a life free of discrimination, and skills on ways to combat and seek redress for harassment

The feedback we receive from you will also provide guidance to the GLRL to make policy recommendations on the consolidation and standardization of anti-discrimination laws federally.

For the first time, we have the opportunity to provide advice on a federal framework for anti-discrimination legislation. Currently anti-discrimination laws on the grounds of sexuality are covered piece-meal by the states, and the current federal government has committed to providing legislation that will include sexuality alongside the existing protections for sex, race, ethnicity, marital status and disability.

Ten workshops will be held over the course of the next year, and focus on different aspects of discrimination faced by different groups in our community – and on what you can do to stand up for your rights if you are faced with discrimination on the grounds of sexuality, starting with a Youth workshop in Parramatta on Wednesday 29 August. Future workshops will focus on how issues of ageing, disability, faith, multiculturalism, sex and gender diversity and more intersect with being gay or lesbian.

Marriage Equality: The Case For Reform

While there are many disparateissues to canvass in the case for marriage equality, we particularly encourageindividuals to consider making the following points in their submission.

Marriage is a civil institution, governed by secular laws, of which allpeople are entitled equitable access.

  • Marriage is not an immutable religious institution. The GLRL recognises that marriage takes many forms in different cultures and has various religious histories attached to it. However, marriages performed by the state are civil, not religious, in nature. Federal legislation should reflect the separation of Church and State and not seek to privilege particular religious interests over treating all its citizens equally. Civil marriage equality should be made available to all couples regardless of sex.
  • Marriage equality is an issue of human rights. Marriage reforms are essential to uphold the human rights of sexual and gender minorities. Australia has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that expressly provides for equality before the law and right to non-discrimination. In recent history, marriage reforms, through the lens of non-discrimination, have secured the legitimacy of interracial unions and furthered the agency of women in marital relationships. In the context of evolving norms then, the Marriage Act 1961 should be amended to define marriage as the ‘union of two people’ irrespective of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Australia is falling behind comparable jurisdictions and should recognise foreign marriages. Same-sex couples can legally be married in many foreign nations: Canada, the Netherlands, Argentina and South Africa permit equal marriage. Despite not recognising these marriages in Australia, the Federal Government now issues eligible same-sex couples Certificates of No Impediment to marry in these jurisdictions. Couples that are legally married in overseas jurisdictions, should have their marriages recognised in Australia.
  • Marriage equality has broad community support. Consistent polling indicates that over 60 percent of Australians support marriage equality.
  • Civil unions are not substitutes to full marriage equality. The GLRL recognises that relationship recognition can take multiple forms, and we support a range of options being available for same-sex couples. However, permitting civil unions or relationship register schemes, while denying same-sex couples access to marriage, produces a tiered relationship structure that privileges heterosexual relationships while undermining same-sex relationship recognition. 

Update on LGBTQI Advocacy

Last night, a community update meeting was held at ACON to present the LGBTQI policing advocacy paper. This paper is now available to download.

Click here to download the advocacy paper: Policing at NSW Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ) Events and Venues. [345.37 Kb]

The advocacy paper addresses a range of recommendations and solutions to improve policing, event management, community relations and visitor experience and contains twelve recommendations regarding political and operational reforms.

The advocacy paper and its recommendations were developed after an extensive review of numerous complaints from the community and feedback provided by attendees at community meetings held in March and June.

The document results from the collaboration between several LGBTQI organisations, including Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG), ACON, the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) and the Inner City Legal Centre (ICLC).

Since the development of the advocacy paper and over the last three months, significant consultation has occurred with senior government and cross party politicians, and government agencies including NSW Police to implement some of the key recommendations.

This ongoing process will result in soon to be announced new operational management plans that are to be implemented in time for the 2014 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival.

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