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.

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.

Continue reading “Now that’s over, let’s get on with making marriage equality a reality for all Australians”