Media Release: Another marriage equality inquiry? Fine, but let’s get on with it

The announcement of a cross-party inquiry into marriage equality feels a bit like history repeating, but any progress towards change is welcomed by the New South Wales Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby.

Politicians from Labor, the Greens and the crossbench on Tuesday announced plans for a motion for a Senate committee inquiry into proposed amendments to the Marriage Act, put forward in anticipation of the failed plebiscite.

The NSW GLRL is cautiously optimistic of another step forward but awaits more information, including the inquiry’s terms of reference.

“It’s less than 18 months since the last inquiry into marriage equality,” NSW GLRL co-convenor Lauren Foy said.

“We welcome efforts to keep the push for equality alive in Parliament and we understand that victories often come in small steps, but we hope this move leads to meaningful progress.”

The prominent state-based group will monitor this new development on behalf of the community it represents and in particular the extent of proposed religious and commercial exemptions, Ms Foy said.

“Our position has always been that permitted exemptions undermine the inclusive spirit in which this fight has been fought,” Ms Foy said. “Allowing businesses to turn away LGBTI people getting married isn’t fair. Any form of discrimination should not be enshrined in law.”

Along with countless other LGBTI community groups, the GLRL remains committed to the belief that the most appropriate way of moving forward is with a vote in Parliament, Ms Foy said.

“We will continue the meaningful discussions with MPs from all parties that have been underway for some time, in order to achieve marriage equality as soon as possible.

“We look forward to continuing to working with all members of Parliament to make equality a reality at long last in the very near future.”

Momentum for progress is strong, with community support for marriage equality at all-time high levels, Ms Foy said.

“LGBTI groups across the country have united and with them, we are confident that equality is on the horizon,” she said.

Since 1988, the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby has been leading the fight for substantive equality and social justice for lesbians, gay men and their families in NSW.

Media Release: GLRL leadership stronger than ever following AGM

Since establishment in 1988, the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby has played a significant role in the nation’s LGBTI cultural identity. An ambitious undertaking at the time, it remains a powerful symbol of modern social reform for LGBTI people.

“We have made significant contributions to law reform and social change, guiding and shaping the private and public narratives of rights and freedoms for LGBTI people with diplomacy, integrity and collaboration” informs Co-convenor Lauren Foy.

At the same time, the environment in which the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby operates has evolved in ways that were impossible to anticipate at the time of inception. Technology, in particular, has advanced at great speed, and with it, the needs and expectations of members and community alike, have shifted.

We have seen a shift in the public narrative about how rights are sought and have embarked on deep refection following Orlando, and what that means for cultures like ours in an every increasingly volatile and hostile world.

We have experienced our own personal threats to safety and incomprehensibly try to gage what this would be like in isolated communities as our lives and loves are increasingly put under a microscope, informs Co-convenor, Chris Pycroft.

We have embarked on a staged suite of projects with this in consideration, which will ensure the organisation and representation we seek to provide remains as relevant in the future as it has been until now. We remain mindful that we must be balanced with careful project management, and above all, our responsibility to remain steady and focused in stewardship, says Ms Foy.

“To manage the intersectionalities and complexities of reform, our people and culture need to remain strong. We are building an organisation with depth, drive and resilience to deliver refreshed strategic priorities that better align with the work we understand to be vital to our communities’ safety” says Mr Pycroft.

We pay tribute to our volunteers and our Committee of Management and welcome those newly elected, whose effort, commitment and resilience in adversity underpins our determination to live up to the promise of advocating for substantive legislative and social change for our communities, in everything we do.

The result in America is already emboldening the ultra right wing political brigade in Australia. It’s never been more important to have strong, progressive representation in politics and in activism than now.

As we welcome GLRL’s incumbent leaders, we ask for your support to make us stronger than we’ve ever been before. We need to protect what we have, and keep fighting for what we lack says Ms Foy.

It’s your turn now to take action.

Become a member of the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby today.

2016-2017 GLRL Committee of Management: Chris Pycroft (Male Co-convenor), Lauren Foy (Female Co-convenor), Jordan Hardy, Benjamin Oh, Ben Crompton, Vic Pye, Rebekah Hitchenson, Melinda Edwards, Cec Busby, Shannon Molloy, Tom Anderson, James Bolster, Cameron Darling, Neph Wake.

Media Release: Now that’s over, let’s get on with making marriage equality a reality for all Australians

Australians have avoided an expensive, divisive, damaging and unnecessary marriage equality plebiscite after today’s defeat of legislation in the Senate, and the New South Wales Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby says it’s now time to get down to business.

The prominent state-based community organisation is calling on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to allow a vote in Parliament at the earliest convenience.

“Parliament remains the most appropriate place for the issue of marriage equality to be resolved,” NSW GLRL co-convenor Chris Pycroft said. “We now ask that this happen as soon as possible.”

Countless LGBTI community groups held grave concerns about the impact of a plebiscite on millions of Australians. Mental health organisations also warned of its dangers.

“Today’s outcome is the right one but we have much work still to do,” Mr Pycroft said. “We’ve won this battle – the fight wages on. We will now resume discussions with MPs from all parties, especially those in the Liberal Party who’ve been particularly supportive in recent times.”

Should a vote take place, marriage equality legislation would likely pass both houses of Parliament, based on current indications from members.

“Marriage equality is supported by MPs of all persuasions. We urge Mr Turnbull to allow his Coalition colleagues a vote on legislation so that we can get this done once and for all.”

Broader support for equality in the community is also high, Mr Pycroft said. Current estimates show anywhere between 65 and 70 per cent of Australians are in favour of a change to the law to allow same-sex couples to marry.

The issue has galvanised the LGBTI community like never before, Mr Pycroft said.

“LGBTI groups across the country have united and with them, we are confident that equality is on the horizon,” he said.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all MPs we’ve engaged with over long periods of time on this issue, including those in the Liberal Party who’ve shown they are committed allies of our community.

“We look forward to continuing to working with all members of Parliament to make equality a reality at long last in the very near future.”

Since 1988, the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby has been leading the fight for substantive equality and social justice for lesbians, gay men and their families in NSW.

Media Release: We’ve won the plebiscite battle… but the marriage equality fight isn’t over

Today’s decision by the federal Labor party room to not support legislation allowing a divisive, costly and unnecessary plebiscite on marriage equality is a win for common sense and community welfare, the New South Wales Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby says.

The prominent state-based community group welcomes the outcome of months of consultation by the Australian Labor Party, which looks to have all but quashed the legislation’s prospects when it reaches the Senate later this week.

“It has always been our belief that the most effective way of achieving marriage equality is with a free vote in the Parliament,” NSW GLRL co-convenor Lauren Foy said.

“Along with countless other LGBTI community groups, we’ve held grave concerns about the impact of a plebiscite on millions of Australians. The ALP’s decision is the right one, but this isn’t the end of the issue – it’s just the beginning.

“Attention will now shift to continuing meaningful discussions with MPs from all parties in order to achieve marriage equality as soon as possible.”

The proposed plebiscite had extremely minimal support in the LGBTI community. It would have been expensive – estimated to cost at least $200 million – and it would have likely promoted disharmony, division and discrimination.

“We need only look to the experiences of the Irish referendum on marriage equality to see what damage might’ve been inflicted,” Ms Foy said. “There were absolutely no positives to a plebiscite so today’s outcome is the right one.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all MPs we’ve engaged with over long periods of time on this issue, including those in the Liberal Party who’ve shown they are committed allies of our community.

“We look forward to continuing to working with all members of Parliament to make equality a reality at long last in the very near future.”

Momentum for progress is strong, with community support for marriage equality at all-time high levels, Ms Foy said.

“LGBTI groups across the country have united and with them, we are confident that equality is on the horizon,” she said.

Since 1988, the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby has been leading the fight for substantive equality and social justice for lesbians, gay men and their families in NSW.

Media Release: NSW GLRL calls for the blocking of plebiscite legislation

With details of the proposed plebiscite into marriage equality now released by the federal government, the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (NSW GLRL) calls for the blocking of plebiscite legislation, and for all sides of parliament to work together to achieve marriage equality as quickly as possible through a free vote.

In addition to increased costs of the plebiscite due to proposed campaign funding allocations, the NSW GLRL also has concerns over the wording of the question (referring only to same-sex couples), the non-binding nature of any public vote, as well as no additional commitment being made to ensure the mental health and wellbeing of the LGBTI communities.

We know that marriage equality has broad community support, with polling consistently showing that two-thirds of Australians support marriage equality. We know that should a free vote be allowed for all sides of parliament, marriage equality legislation would pass both houses. The proposed plebiscite structure, to be introduced into federal parliament tomorrow, is not equal for both sides of the campaign.

Co-convenor Chris Pycroft said “Changes to the Marriage Act in 2004 meant increased discrimination and prejudice against our community; it was a statement which said that our love is not equal. We will continue to fight for the passage of marriage equality. LGBTI Australians do not support a national vote on marriage equality. It is an unnecessary mechanism that would still require legislation to be introduced into parliament after the proposed public vote.

“We’re genuinely concerned about the impact an enduring taxpayer funded public debate on marriage equality will have on LGBTI people and their families. What we have seen in recent weeks, is that no matter what kind of a debate occurs, it will be divisive and it will impact on the mental health of LGBTI people. We do not support a publically funded smear campaign.”

“In recent months we’ve seen young same-sex attracted and gender diverse people used as political pawns through orchestrated attacks on programs designed to keep them safe. Attacks that, along with scare campaigns about LGBTI families, are the emerging foundation of a plebiscite “no” campaign”, says Co-convenor Lauren Foy.

“To deny 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, is a statement which says that our love is not equal. It says that the trust we place in the democratic process of electing effective leadership to govern our wonderful country, to make decisions in the best interest of the nation, are a moot point.

“We will continue to urge our federal leaders to work together to resolve a passage that makes marriage equality a reality for our communities during this term of government,” said Co-Convenor Lauren Foy.

Further comment is available upon request.

The Safe Schools program is under attack. Again.

A petition with 17,000 signatures has been tabled in the NSW Parliament, asking the government to end the Safe Schools program in all NSW schools.

Conservative attacks on Safe Schools have been based on scare campaigns and misleading information about what the program involves.

Despite the alarmist headlines, we know that there is broad community support for Safe Schools.

“Research tells us that many young people who are victims of homophobic or transphobic abuse or bullying will attempt self-harm, and it is essential that those young people are supported within their school communities” says Co-convenor Lauren Foy.

Help us stand up to the attacks on the Safe Schools program.

Here is a petition we need you to sign, calling for a commitment to maintain Safe Schools in NSW schools.

“We need to collect at least 10,000 signatures in order to table the petition in Parliament”, informs co-convenor, Chris Pycroft.

Download the petition here, print it out and collect as many signatures as you can to show that people in NSW support Safe Schools.

Or contact us by e-mail convenors@glrl.org.au and we will email copies of the petition to you. You can post completed petitions to Po Box 304, Sydney NSW 2037

Read more about Safe Schools at safeschoolscoalition.org.au

Media Release: NSW GLRL welcomes new Federal Parliament, calls for a free vote on marriage equality

This federal election NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (NSWGLRL) called on all parties to make a commitment to end discrimination and harassment against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) Australians.

We congratulate all Members of Parliament on their appointments and welcome the thirty-nine new sitting members to crucial portfolios across Australia.

“There are a broad range of issues, highlighted in our Rainbow Votes election campaign, that don’t get the attention they deserve. Issues that over the next term of Parliament will affect our communities for many years to come. Issues that we intend to continue open and strong dialogue on in the pursuit for equal rights” informed Co-convenor Chris Pycroft.

NSWGLRL recognises that marriage equality is of key concern not only to our members, but also to those constituents of NSW who have loved ones in committed relationships wishing to get married. We urge all members of the new Parliament to consider voting in favour of any bill that would remove the discriminatory provisions and allow all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, to get married.

Co-convenor Lauren Foy highlights “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.

NSWGLRL has extended invitations and welcome opportunities to meet with our elected NSW parliamentarians to discuss this, and a range of other policy issues to progress substantive legislative and social equality for LGBTI people.

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