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15 November 2011 - Marriage equality a matter of fairness

The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (NSW) is deeply disappointed with Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s lack of support for marriage equality, and her endorsement of a conscience vote. 

The Marriage Act 1961 currently defines ‘marriage’ as the ‘union between a man and a woman’ and disallows same-sex couples from marrying.

“It is concerning when the Prime Minister commits to social justice and fairness, but then discriminates against same-sex couples by denying them access to marriage which is a civil institution”, said Lainie Arnold, GLRL Co-Convenor.

Justin Koonin, GLRL Co-Convenor, also stated, “Marriage equality is an issue of fairness for all Australians, not a matter of conscience.”

Recent polls indicating that over 60 percent of Australians support giving same-sex couples the right to marry. 

On an international level, Canada, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, South Africa and five US states now grant the right to marry for same-sex couples.

Ms Arnold added, “What is also concerning, is that even where couples are legally married overseas, 88EA of the Marriage Act does not recognise that relationship as a marriage. This remains a disgraceful demonstration of Australia’s discriminatory position on civil marriage equality.”

Mr Koonin noted, “Denying official marital recognition to same-sex couples promotes the idea that the state values some relationships more than others.” 

The GLRL strongly urges the Australian Labor Party National Conference to endorse a change to the Marriage Act, and hopes that Parliament acts in the interests of eliminating discrimination, and move quickly to enshrine marriage equality in law.