May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. On May 15, thousands around Australia marked it by marching in support of equal marriage rights.
In Melbourne, 3000 people from diverse organisations rallied at the state library.
Among the speakers were the director, cast and crew members of the current production of Waiting for Godot, including well known actor Ian McKellen.
McKellen, who also pre-recorded a message for rallies in other cities, spoke proudly of his support for the equal love campaign. “It is a matter of principle”, he said. “The law must not discriminate. I hope you are totally successful, you have my full support.”
A representative from Equal Love announced there were 100,000 signatures on a petition in support of same-sex marriage, which would be sent to Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, to table in parliament.
United Firefighters Union state secretary Peter Marshall said unions were working to stop discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in the workplace.
Protesters were invited to take part in the “Great Global Kiss-In”, allowing same-sex couples to publicly express their love for each other.
Melbourne High School students Izzi Williams and Jordan Boulter spoke on behalf of queers at schools. They said: “74% of queer youth have experienced some sort of verbal or physical abuse against their sexual gender.”
Queer suicides are six times the rate of heterosexual people.
Jim McIlroy reported that more than 300 people rallied in Brisbane’s Queens Park. Andrew Bartlett, a former Australian Democrats senator and now Greens candidate for the federal seat of Brisbane, told the rally: “We all need to stand up for our principles. If we don't stand up for human rights, there will be no one left to stand up for us when we are under attack.”
After the speeches, a reverend from the Metropolitan Gay Church conducted several same-sex marriages. This was followed by a mass,same-sex kiss-in.
After the rally, the protesters conducted a lively march through city streets, and back to Queens Park.
The rally chair urged everyone to start campaigning for the next national equal rights rally on August 15.
In Sydney, Rachel Evans reported a lively crowd of more than 1000 people. Pre-recorded speeches by McKellen and Dannii Minogue were followed by speakers from a variety of organisations. These included: Palestinian queer academic Samar Habib; Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union state secretary Andrew Ferguson; Kat Rose from the National Union of Students; Ben Cooper, from Community Action against Homophobia, and trans activist Conor Montgomery.
In Perth, Alex Bainbridge reported about 250 people joined the national call for same-sex marriage rights, hearing from Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, Greens state parliamentarian Lynn MacLaren and Families for Freedom member Shane Bowra.
One hundred and fifty people rallied in Canberra, and 50 rallied in Adelaide and Wollongong.
Above: Photo slideshow from Sydney by Peter Boyle. Below: Photo slideshow from Perth.
Below, video footage of the Perth rally by Alex Bainbridge.