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Thursday, 24 June 2004
Page: 31464


Mr ORGAN (10:10 AM) —I move:

(1) Subsection 5(1):

Insert

“Marriage means the union of

(a) a woman and a woman

(b) a man and a man

or

(c) a woman and a man

to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”

(2) At the end of section 88B:

Add: To avoid doubt, in this Part (including section 88E) marriage has the meaning given by subsection 5(1)

(3) After section 88E

Insert:

88EA Certain Unions are marriages

A union solemnised in a foreign country between:

(a) a man and another man

(b) a woman and another woman

or

(c) a woman and a man

must be recognised as a marriage in Australia.

I commend these amendments to the House because they will reflect Australian society as it currently exists in this country. As I said previously, we have thousands of non-heterosexual Australian couples living in loving, committed relationships in this country. For this parliament to tell those people that what they are doing is illegal, that it is not supported, that we are going to discriminate against them, is just not fair or equitable and it is not the right thing to do. We should be supporting all Australians. We should be making sure that we are not discriminating against ordinary Australians. This bill is clearly discriminatory.

This amendment will reflect marriage as it exists in this country as we speak. Marriage has a lot of different dimensions to it, secular and religious. I think that is an important element of what we as federal members of the House need to reflect here. We cannot bring our own personal prejudices to this place. We are representing the people of our electorates, the people of this nation. With some 10 to 15 per cent of the people of this nation being part of the lesbian, gay and transgender community, it is just unbelievable that this government should try to discriminate against them.

We have heard the minister say that this is not discriminatory law. We have heard the minister come into this place before and tell us that black is white and say things are not happening when we have heard from his own words the complete opposite. I take those comments with a grain of salt. I know what the people in my community believe. I know what people throughout Australia believe. There are thousands and thousands—a large number of people in this community—who support gay marriage. We are here in 2004. We have come a long way since the bad old days of gay bashing and homophobic behaviour and things like that. Hopefully we have come a long way.

We are an open democracy here in Australia. We should be sending a clear message to the community that discrimination against people based on their sexuality and on homophobia is not to be condoned at all. Unfortunately, this Marriage Amendment Bill does send the wrong message out there to the community. It caters to some of those homophobic attitudes in the community and it is the wrong message to be sending. But it is a message that this government seems happy to send and unfortunately it is a message that the opposition seems happy to support as well. I commend these amendments to the House.