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Saturday May 11 saw thousands of enthusiastic supporters of marriage equality come out on the streets demanding that the government change the marriage act so it no longer discriminates against many Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Transgendered and Intersex (LGBTI) people. Equal Love who organised the rally said they aim to try to make the issue of marriage equality one that both major parties can not ignore in the lead up to September’s election.
The rally started with an array of inspiring speeches including Paige Phoenix, a female to male transexual man who was told his marriage to his wife was invalid because he chose not to take up a potentially life threatening operation so he can have the letter M on his birth certificate.
Adam Bandt spoke about his equality bill that will be put to the vote in parliament on June 6, being our only chance of getting marriage equality through before the Federal election in September.
Most inspiring of all was Stephanie Meachan, a high school student from Albury, who not only spoke of her experience in facing discrimination as a young bisexual woman in the country but also expressed the negative messages it sends to young people that the government allows hetereosexual marriages but denies so many others!
The protest march stopped mid way, where hundreds of participants chalked on the road to make a giant DIY rainbow crossing in the intersection of Bourke and Swanston sts as a gesture of solidarity with those in Sydney who had an iconic rainbow-coloured crossing taken away earlier this year. The #DIY rainbow campaign has taken off and has become a worldwide phenomenon with people chalking up rainbows across Europe, the USA and Asia.
Equal Love convenor Ali Hogg:
“Today was an inspiring show of defiance and I think we need more rallies just like this if we want to get marriage equality put on the agenda as an election issue in September. It looks like wear heading for a Liberal government. Now is not the time to be cosying up to the Libs but we need to start preparing for a serious fight back and not just ask for our equal rights but demand they grant us full equality.”
Equal Love Announced their next rally marking the 9th anniversary since John Howard changed the marriage act to state that marriage shall be strictly ‘an institution between a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others” The August rally is 4 weeks before the Federal election and is expected to send a loud and passionate message to both major parties demanding equality.
ANNIVERSARY RALLY DETAILS:
SATURDAY AUGUST 17
1PM STATE LIBRARY OF VICTORIA
“A referendum to extend full marriage rights to all couples regardless of gender is something every equal rights activist should fully get behind. It would be an exciting opportunity for the great majority of people in Australia to show their support for equality, and to demonstrate just how out of step the two major parties are with public opinion on this issue. Just as the 1967 referendum accorded civil rights and equality before the law to Aboriginal people, we are confident a referendum on equal rights for LGBTI people would result in a similar step forward for civil rights today.”
In response to the concerns of some in the marriage equality movement who have argued that a referendum would mobilise bigotry and that legislation is preferable, Hogg argues:
“We are not afraid of the homophobic scare campaign that anti-gay groups like the Australian Christian Lobby are sure to wage. That all people should be treated equally before the law, regardless of who they choose to love, is a democratic principle upheld by the majority of Australians, and no amount of Bible quoting and homophobic ranting can change that. We strongly believe that the message of equality and civil rights will win out in any public debate on marriage rights.”
“We have waited too long for the major parties to change the law. They have shown nothing but contempt for LGBTI people and the Australian public by refusing to end discrimination in line with public attitudes and wishes. A referendum represents our chance to compel them to do the right thing, and so we welcome it. Of course, it is not counter-posed to legislation change – that should continue to be something we fight for – but a referendum could well provide a direct route to equal rights, which would be fantastic.”
Equal Love will be holding a public rally for marriage equality at 1pm on Saturday 11 May outside the State Library.