'Marriage equality and beyond'

Rachel Evans speaking at the forum.

After the victories in Ireland and the US, activists are reflecting that Australia too is on the cusp of a victory on marriage equality.

This framed the discussion at a lively forum in Sydney on July 28, entitled "Marriage equality and beyond: Taking the struggle forward".

However, as the speakers noted, the struggle is by no means won, and there are still many challenges facing the LGBTI community. The forum discussed the history and future of the fight for equal marriage rights and the rainbow struggle generally.

Steve Warren, a veteran of the original Mardi Gras march, recounted the events of June 24, 1978, when police attacked gay rights activists in Sydney. This laid the basis for the development of the mass Mardi Gras marches of recent years.

Warren said: "We need unity around the right to choose marriage or not. Together we can create the momentum for positive social change."

Norrie, a pioneer of sex and gender diverse rights, made history as the first person in Australia to label their gender as X on legal documents.

Norrie said: "Marriage equality is an important issue for the transgender community. Marriage should be between two people, of whatever race, sex or culture."

Viva La Bang, from the Rainbow Army in Newcastle, described the campaign by queer activists there to win the right to chalk up rainbow signs in the streets of the city.

"We need to set an example for future generations," he said. "We won't stop fighting till we win our rights."

Rachel Evans, long-time equal marriage campaigner with Community Action Against Homophobia and Socialist Alliance LGBTI spokesperson, said: "Twenty-one countries have already won marriage equality. The pressure is on, but seven marriage equality bills have already been voted down in the federal parliament. August will be a people's power month for marriage equality.

“Public opinion has radically changed in the last 10 years. In 2004, 33% supported marriage equality. This year it is 74%.

"The coming national rallies will be pushing for the demand, 'Put the bill, pass the bill'. We can win this if we build a united campaign. Solidarity is a powerful weapon.

"Marriage equality is a step towards full equality, and towards a better world. If we are going to win, we need to mobilise the widespread community support that is out there."

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