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.