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Marriage Act amendments entrench discrimination



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THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL SHADOW MINISTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY ACTING SHADOW MINISTER FOR JUSTICE

MEMBER FOR ISAACS

TERRI BUTLER MP

SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR PREVENTING FAMILY VIOLENCE SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR UNIVERSITIES SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR EQUALITY

MEMBER FOR GRIFFITH

MARRIAGE ACT AMENDMENTS ENTRENCH DISCRIMINATION

Proposed amendments to the Marriage Act, released late on Monday night by Senator George Brandis, would introduce new forms of legal discrimination against Australia’s LGBTI community and deepen Labor’s concerns about the government’s wasteful, hurtful, $200 million plebiscite.

This isn't a bill that delivers equality, it's a bill that entrenches discrimination.

From the beginning, the plebiscite has been a project of the right wing of the Liberal Party. These amendments confirm that Tony Abbott, Eric Abetz, George Christensen and their ilk are continuing to dictate to the Government frontbench, using the plebiscite process to drive their conservative ideological agenda.

If the Government’s only objective was to achieve marriage equality, these amendments would stop at removing the words “man and woman” from the Marriage Act. But they go much further.

These amendments introduce new forms of legal discrimination against the LGBTI community.

This exposure draft also includes exemptions to discrimination law for civil celebrants, to permit them to refuse to marry same-sex couples. This government needs to explain why it believes it is necessary to allow this exemption to civil celebrants, who are authorised by the Commonwealth to perform civil, not religious, ceremonies.

Religious organisations would also be allowed to refuse goods and services to same- sex couples for their weddings. That means a same-sex couple can be barred from hiring a reception hall, for example, or using a particular caterer, if it is ultimately owned by a religious organisation, even if the good or service has nothing to do with religion at all.

If the Government truly wanted marriage equality, it would drop this plebiscite altogether and allow a free vote on the floor of Parliament today.

There is nothing stopping this happening except for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his unwillingness to lead.

TUESDAY, 11 OCTOBER 2016