NSWGLRL CALLS ON YOU TO ENROL FOR EQUALITY

The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (NSWGLRL) today welcomed the decision of the Australian Senate to reject – again – the Federal Government’s plebiscite proposal.

But Convenor of the NSWGLRL, Lauren Foy, warned that the path ahead for marriage equality supporters will require even greater energy, passion and persistence than their efforts up to now.

“We unequivocally condemn the idea of using a non-compulsory postal survey vote – a postal ‘plebiscite’ – especially when it has no power to compel MPs to vote according to the result.

“But we acknowledge a postal vote could still become reality, depending on the success of the High Court challenge announced yesterday,” Ms Foy said.

She continued, “we strongly urge members of the community to make sure your enrolment and residential address is up to date with the Australian Electoral Commission by visiting their website – and to do this NOW before the enrolment period closes.”

“You won’t receive your voting form in the mail unless you update your enrolment.”

“We hope that a postal vote doesn’t go ahead but if it does we want to make sure the community is ready. A postal vote campaign will need all of our energy and passion to bring the nation with us on the journey to equality.”

POSTAL PLEBISCITE A NEW LOW IN MORE THAN 100 YEARS OF AUSTRALIAN LAW-MAKING

Ms Foy then criticised the remarkable precedent being set by the proposed postal survey, and the failure of politicians to protect the law-making traditions and institutions of Australia.

“The current Government says the 1977 national anthem poll is a precedent for a postal plebiscite – but it’s abundantly clear this proposal is a new low in more than one hundred years of law-making in Australia.

“Subjecting the legal and civil rights of a minority group to a national opinion poll is in no way comparable to changing our national anthem,” she said.

Ms Foy said the careless destruction of the law-making traditions and institutions of Australia represents a clear and present danger to social cohesion in a diverse modern Australia.

“If a government, without blinking, can propose a multimillion dollar plebiscite on the civil rights of the LGBTI community, then what’s to stop us from holding a plebiscite or postal survey on freedom of religious expression? Or on which migrants can enter Australia? Or on the salaries of politicians?

“If this wasn’t about gay rights then have no doubt – there would be more politicians and loud- mouthed commentators speaking out against this idea, especially those who claim they defend our institutions and traditions,” Ms Foy stated.

“A multimillion dollar straw poll on the legal and civil rights of a minority is unprecedented and stomach-turning – and this situation is so twisted that marriage equality advocates are fighting harder to keep our law-making traditions than some outspoken conservatives.

“The High Court ruled the only way this can be resolved is in the Parliament, and that’s where this debate should rightfully be held,” Ms Foy concluded.

ENDS

NSWGLRL welcomes the release of the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017

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.

NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby takes your heart to Canberra

The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby will create a giant sea of hearts outside Parliament House on Tuesday 8 August 2017, with each heart containing a message of support of same-sex marriage collected over a decade of campaigning.

One of the famous hearts from the annual ‘Sea of Hearts’ display at Mardi Gras Fair Day, Camperdown NSW.

In 2005, the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby placed a number of pink cardboard hearts at Victoria Park in Camperdown, NSW, protesting against the then Government’s ban on same-sex marriage which was enacted a year earlier.

The campaign became known as the ‘Sea of Hearts’ and served as one of the most potent symbols of LGBTI activism and equality used by equal rights supporters in Sydney and around the world.

It was the first national campaign in Australia to demand marriage equality.

“Politicians from across the political spectrum have come together every year since then, writing their own messages of love, hope and support for marriage equality.” says Lauren Foy, Convenor of NSWGLRL.

“It’s quite timely that in August over a decade later, NSWGLRL take the 12 years’ worth of messages from our communities, to the lawns of Parliament House to create a mass ‘Sea of Hearts’ – The time for Parliament to act is now and so we stand united with our communities in pushing forward for fairness.”

NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby is extending a warm invitation to community members to come along and show your support for marriage equality. Place a heart in GLRL’s inaugural Sea of Hearts on Parliament House Lawn, this Tuesday to show your support for marriage equality”.

The sea of hearts will coincide with the Coalition party room in which it is expected the issue of a free vote on marriage equality will be discussed.

“Planting a heart is a symbol of good will and encouragement before the Coalition meets to discuss a way forward for marriage equality, for all Australians.

A statement from the NSW GLRL Co-convenors

Earlier this week, the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, as well as one of its Committee of Management members, Shannon Molloy, was on the receiving end of behaviour that was completely unacceptable.

The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby is an organisation that for twenty-nine years has continued to fight for equality for LGBTI people. We believe that no person should be discriminated against for who they are. We also believe that no person should be victimised because of who they are. We have seen too many instances of abuse that people within the LGBTI community, as well as the LGBTI community as a whole, has received. Being told that we do not deserve the same rights, the same protections, the same respect, is something that no person should ever have to experience. When that behaviour comes from within our own community, it should be condemned. There is a difference between having a debate on an issue, and personally attacking someone. The behaviour that has been shown this week towards particular individuals that have proudly volunteered for our organisation has been nothing short of appalling. It is damaging, and there should be consequences for those responsible.

One of the biggest strengths that the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby has is its volunteers – something which has existed throughout the entirety of the organisation’s history. Every person that sits on the Committee of Management, including ourselves as Co-convenors, are volunteers. We are completely committed to our mandate of achieving legislative and social equality for LGBTI people, and we as volunteers give as much time and effort as we possibly can to make that happen. Attacking and criticising one volunteer purely because of their employer, one which afforded them the opportunity to speak of their discrimination and victimisation they have personally experienced, is unacceptable. Volunteers speak for and represent themselves, not their entire place of employment. To use the actions of others as justification to abuse people is wrong. It is not acceptable, and it never will be.

It is with sadness that following the amount of public attention his role at the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby has attracted this week, Shannon Molloy has resigned from the Committee of Management. Shannon has the total support of the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, and should he ever wish to return to the organisation to help create positive change for our community, an issue which is so dear to his heart, we will welcome him back with open arms. Since his election to the Committee of Management, Shannon has made an incredible difference to the organisation, and we cannot thank him enough.

The unwarranted abuse has to stop. People within the LGBTI community should only want the absolute best for their peers, their friends, their loved ones, their community. There should only be one priority – achieving equality, not stopping until the day that arrives, and supporting each other to make that happen every single day.