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Tuesday, 28 November 2017
Page: 9079


Senator WHISH-WILSON (Tasmania) (18:45): I'm only going to speak for a short time, but I have been in here for 45 minutes listening to this, and I tell you what, Senator Fierravanti-Wells: if I were Senator Dastyari and I were speaking to the leaders of those religious minorities you referred to, what I would say to them is: 'The reason I've taken my stance on marriage equality is the same reason I support you: because I support minority groups. I support groups that have been persecuted and discriminated against in this country.' That's the simple answer to that question for Senator Dastyari. If he wants a simple answer, that's a good one. That's exactly what we're doing here today: we're trying to pass legislation that prevents discrimination.

I have listened to some absolute tripe in here about Christian values from your side of the chamber. As I said in my first speech on this topic, I was a practising Christian myself until my early 20s and, when I think of Christianity and Jesus, I think of love, I think of compassion and I think of understanding—everything that I'm not hearing from your side of the chamber today about LGBTIQ people in this country and elsewhere who have been discriminated against, who have been persecuted and who are under pressure.

So let's cut the crap—all the religious crap. There are a lot of people in here and outside this chamber who are religious and who do support equal marriage. It's not just those out there saying, 'We have to have our conservative values in place.' It's almost as if we've gone from 1,500 years of having a church-controlled state to a situation where suddenly now we might have a state-controlled church, where this legislation is somehow going to impact on the power of the clergy and religion in this country. We can accept everyone's views in here. We can accept diversity, but I'd like to see at least something from your side of the chamber here in this debate today that says there are Christians out there that believe in love, in compassion and in understanding other human beings for what they are. I'm very proud that I'm one of those people, and I'm sure there are lots of other Australians. So please, when you're addressing these issues, at least be equal and fair in your statements.

The CHAIR: Just before I give you the call, Senator Smith, I remind senators to make their comments to the chair and not across the chamber.