The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (NSWGLRL) welcomes this Bill and its attempt to find a compromise proposal the current Parliament can support. This reform to the Marriage Act is long overdue and much too important to be delayed any longer.
However, it has been the longstanding position of the NSWGLRL that there should be no religious exemptions in the treatment of LGBTI persons where a service is provided by, or on behalf of, the Australian Government.
The proposed Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017 appears to offer current marriage celebrants a legal protection to refuse to marry gay and lesbian couples based solely on a personal religious belief [see: Section 39 DD (2), and Section 47 A]. This new exemption would also apply to straight couples.
NSWGLRL does not support this new encroachment of personal religious beliefs into the provision of services supplied by Government-authorised celebrants who are not Ministers of Religion.
Despite this imperfection the Bill has every chance of succeeding in Parliament if there is a conscience vote – and there should be no excuse for further delay or rejection of this Bill by the current Parliament.
The recent Senate Committee inquiry into marriage equality rose above party politics and showed that political parties can work together to deliver the will of the Australian people.
The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (NSWGLRL) is the leading organisation for lesbian and gay rights in NSW. Established in 1988, our mission is to achieve substantive legislative and social equality for lesbians, gay men and their families.