While there have been some major legislative advances for LGBTI rights in Latin America, there is still much to be done, writes Erin Fiorini.
equal marriage rights
1. Legislating marriage equality will impact on rights to freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom to practice or implement one’s personal values.
FALSE: Marriage equality and freedom of religion/speech/values are governed by two distinct pieces of legislation. The equality campaign only wants a change in the definition of marriage as determined by the Marriage Act 1961. Religious exemptions are already contained in the Sex Discrimination Act 1984. Changing the definition of marriage in one act does not remove religious exemptions in different act.
In the past fortnight, many of us thought we were right on the edge of FINALLY winning marriage equality in Australia as dissent within the ranks of Malcolm Turnbull’s Coalition government came to a head.
Liberal MP Dean Smith and others put up the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill and called for a free vote. Even Turnbull, a self-declared supporter of marriage equality even as he called for a plebiscite, said he supported the right of Liberal MPs to cross the floor to vote for the bill.
More than two-thirds of voters oppose the federal government’s decision to give public funding to the “Yes” and “No” campaigns in a plebiscite on equal marriage, according to an Essential poll published on September 20.
Only 22% approved the government’s decision, while 68% disapproved.
More than 60% said they would vote yes to the question “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?” and 30% said they would vote no.
Geelong locals, with the support of the Geelong Trades Hall Council, plan to hold a rally at 12noon on September 2 at the office of Federal MP for Corrangamite, Sarah Henderson, to ask her to cross the floor for marriage equality.
Acting Secretary of Geelong Trades Hall Council Colin Vernon said: “This is such an important issue for so many people and it would be nice if the Conservative Liberal government could stop playing party political games with people's lives for once and just get on with it.”
The rally organisers released this statement on August 31.
* * *
When I first came out as a lesbian in high school, I was scared. Hanging over my envisioned future were a lot of question marks, a familiar feeling for a lot of LGBTI youth. Heightened rates of mental illness, suicide, homelessness and assault frame the vision of our adulthood with very real uncertainty. This uncertainty is mirrored by the media. The distinct lack of representation in media robs same-sex attracted youth of healthy role models.
Supporters of equal marriage rights will again take to the streets in Sydney and Melbourne on August 13. The date marks 12 years since the John Howard government — with Labor support — passed laws banning equal marriage.
In the past 12 years, thousands have mobilised across the country demanding an end to the ban.
Veteran gay rights campaigner Rodney Croome has quit as national director of Australian Marriage Equality (AME), which he founded in 2004, to lobby MPs to block the equal marriage plebiscite.
Croome said those who believe a plebiscite is inevitable are “lacking political imagination” and declared blocking it could force a free vote in parliament on the issue. He said there was “no split in the movement” but rather “a spectrum of different approaches to a very difficult situation”.
The Victorian branch of the Country Women's Association (CWA) has voted in support of marriage equality at their latest conference.
The CWA's decision contrasts with its conservative image and defies stereotypes of rural communities as being less accepting of LGBTIQ people.
The motion was titled "That the CWA of Victoria Inc advocates for equality for all Australians under the Commonwealth Marriage Act".
About 7000 people marched for equal marriage rights in Melbourne on August 15. It was the largest such rally in years. Contingents of teachers, nurses and other unions were out in force.
The march featured a portable rainbow and ended with a mass illegal wedding outside the registry office. Rally chair Anthony Wallace rejected PM Tony Abbott's call for a referendum and said "Just pass the bloody bill!".