The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Board’s Submission to the Senate Inquiry on Same Sex Marriage

The Australian Senate is currently conducting an inquiry into the impact of marriage equality in Australia.

Many of the submissions to the Inquiry are now available to read online here on the Parliament of Australia website.

The Executive Board of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras sent a submission to the Inquiry. You can read it in full below.

The Board of Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras would like to thank the Select Committee for the opportunity to write to the Senate Inquiry into the Commonwealth Government’s Exposure Draft of the Marriage Amendment (Same-sex Marriage) Bill (“proposed Bill”) and to contribute to the ongoing development of Marriage Equality legislation.

Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras is a not-for-profit community organisation that organises and co-ordinates events of celebration, commemoration and protest for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ) community and engages in other activities as part of that community.

Among the company’s objectives as per our constitution is sustaining and strengthening the LGBTIQ community by contributing to its social economic, cultural and political development and advancing the goals of our community, which includes the full acceptance of the community and equal rights within Australia and internationally. This includes support for Marriage Equality in Australia and across the world.

It is with the company’s objectives in mind that we write this letter.

On June 24, 1978, hundreds of people took to the streets of Sydney to protest for LGBTIQ freedoms and to celebrate their love, but were met with unexpected police violence in what is now known as the first Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Every year since then the Australian LGBTIQ community has been joined by hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world to celebrate the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras festival culminating in the annual Parade to commemorate that day in 1978.

This year marks the 39th anniversary of the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade and with the theme of ‘Creating Equality’ will shine a spotlight on the way she can all work together to eliminate discrimination and prejudice in all its forms. By its very definition, “Equality” ensures everyone is treated fairly and equally - an no-one is discriminate against because of their sexuality, sex, gender identity, race, beliefs, age or abilities.

The Board of Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras supports the amendments of the Marriage Act 1961 to define marriage as being between two people.

We believe the proposed Bill’s religious exemption amendments to Section 47 of the Marriage Act 1961 and the inclusion of Section 47A and 47B would entrench discrimination against LGBTIQ people into the Act and turn it into a license to discriminate. Further, we believe the propose Bill’s amendments to the Sexual Discrimination Act 1984 would water down the Act and create a dangerous precedent for the community to openly discriminate against LGBTIQ people.

The proposed Bill’s exemptions, we believe, are unnecessary, would undermine the current law of Australia against discrimination enshrined in the Sexual Discrimination Act 1984 and the essence of Marriage Equality: To afford the same rights, entitlements and protections for all Australians.

It is the position of the Board of Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras that only a Bill that eliminates discrimination against same-sex couples, strengthens protections from discrimination and does not provide further exemptions for discrimination to occur, can deliver true Marriage Equality to the citizens of Australia.

The Board of Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras calls on the Government to put and pass a Marriage Equality Bill, and does not believe equality should be delayed.

The Executive Board of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.