Rachel Evans

Equal marriage rights rally participants

Equal marriage rallies were held on November 23 in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.   About 500 people braved wet weather to march for  marriage equality in Melbourne.

Macquarie Street, home to NSW Supreme Court and Parliament, reverberated with chants for justice as 150 Aboriginal people and supporters marched to demand justice for the Bowraville three on November 21.   In 1991, a triple murder of three Aboriginal youths took place within five months in Bowraville on the New South Wales mid north coast.  
The Australian Capital Territory assembly passed a same-sex marriage bill on October 22. The Marriage Equality (Same-Sex) Bill 2013 allows same-sex marriages of ACT residents and non-residents, and is a huge step forward for marriage equality. The ACT is the first Australian jurisdiction to legalise same-sex marriage, after a mammoth fight against a federal same-sex marriage ban. The Labor ACT government passed the bill with the support of Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury while the Liberal Party opposed it. The bill passed narrowly, nine votes to eight.
The new Prime Minister Tony Abbott is infamous for his homophobia. Only recently he dismissed the equal marriage rights campaign as the “fashion of the moment”. The equal marriage rights campaign is about much more than marriage. It’s about a prejudice that kills people. Particularly for young people, life in the queer community keeps them constantly on their toes. All around, queer people are self-harming, and every day young people worry that somebody they care about might commit suicide. These are the consequences of homophobia and transphobia.
Liberal leader Tony Abbott's statement that marriage equality was a passing “fashion of the moment,” has galvanised anger in the lead up to nation-wide marriage equality rallies. It follows Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s promise to introduce a bill for marriage equality within 100 days of being re-elected. During the August 11 debate between Rudd and Abbott, instead of committing Labor to passing the bill, Rudd said his party would have a conscience vote, and called on the Liberal Party to do the same.
The NSW Liberal government passed a bill on May 30 that severely cuts compensation to victims of crime, domestic violence and abuse. Under the old law, the 1996 Victims Support Rehabilitation Act, the maximum compensation to victims had been up to $50,000. The new Victims Rights and Support Bill has cut the maximum amount of compensation to $15,000 and only for victims who are financial dependents of murder victims.
Years of campaigning and mass protest have culminated in another round of victories for the worldwide movement for equal marriage rights. In the past month, a further three countries have voted to allow people of the same sex to marry. A vote in Uruguay’s parliament on April 11 made it the second country in Latin America to allow marriage equality, joining Argentina, which changed its law in 2010. New Zealand’s parliament was the site of a moving scene on April 17 when galleries packed with supporters burst into song as the parliament passed the Marriage Amendment Bill.
Global military spending rose to US $1.74 trillion in 2011. The Australian government spends $25 billion a year — or $68 million per day — on defence spending. This is a travesty when 125,000 Australians are homeless every night and budget cuts are being made to higher education. Demonstrations were held on April 15 in cities around Australia and in over 100 centres world wide to mark a global day of action on military spending. This coincides with the publication by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute of world military expenditures for the past year.
About 200 people attended a community forum on March 19 to discuss the future of policing at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade. It was organised in response to community outrage over violent arrests at this year's parade. The forum was called by the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, the AIDS Council of NSW, Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby, Inner City Legal Centre, NSW Police and independent MLC Alex Greenwich.
Aboriginal banners decorated an angry rally in Sydney’s Hyde Park on March 14. The families of Colleen Walker-Craig, Evelyn Greenup and Clinton Speedy-Duroux rallied with others from Bowraville, west of Nambucca Heads, and Sydney residents, calling for a Royal Commission into the Bowraville children murders. Twenty-three years ago, four-year-old Evelyn Greenup and 16-year-olds Colleen Walker and Clinton Speedy-Duroux were killed in a five-month period on a street near the Bowraville mission.
Britain’s House of Commons voted in favour of equal marriage rights on February 5. France’s lower house approved a bill for equal marriage rights on February 12. If these bills make it the rest of the way through their respective parliaments, Britain and France will join the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Massachusetts, Spain, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina and Denmark in having equal marriage rights.
About 7000 people joined the “International Meeting with Social Movements” festival in Barcelona on December 9, which features Bolivia's left-wing President President Evo Morales, the Andean nation;'s first ever indigenous president. The event was largely attended by the Bolivian diaspora, many of whom travelled hours from Madrid and Valencia. However, flags of Catalonia, Palestine and Argentina reflected a broad internationalist gathering.