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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 1 Hansard (10 February) . . Page.. 101..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

that the repression that gay and lesbian people face is passionately defended by politicians or individuals in the name of religion, culture, morality or public health. Same-sex relations are dubbed "unChristian", "antifamily"or a "bourgeois decadence".

Whittaker observes that the president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, takes a more original line: lesbians and gay men are "less than human"and therefore not entitled to human rights. Whatever anyone thinks of Mr Mugabe's view, it does have a certain logic, which is consistent with big "C"Conservatism.

I say to those who oppose this legislation and other gay law reform bills: don't fudge the issue with arguments about cultural traditions or religion. Either all people have the same "equal and inalienable rights"or they do not. The Liberal Party is saying today, like it did last year, that all people do not have the same rights. They think some people are more equal than others, and that is a great shame.

I commend this legislation to the Assembly and thank the many thousands in the community who have lent their support to the government in this debate. They may not have had as loud a voice or been as well organised as the Australian Christian Lobby, but I am pleased to put their case to the Assembly today.

Sitting suspended from 6.24 to 8.00 pm.

MRS DUNNE (8.00): This is one of those very difficult line-in-the-sand issues that from time to time legislators are called upon to debate. It is very difficult and when you speak from the heart it is easy for those who oppose you to sling off at you across the chamber, as we have already seen in this debate. This is a hard issue that legislators normally shy away from. Because of that, I am grateful for the support of the community for the stand that I am taking. The stand that I am taking, along with my colleagues, is to quite definitely and undeniably oppose this bill.

I do not do that because, as might be characterised by some of those who would interject across the chamber, I am homophobic or I do not like single mums, or any of those things. It is not about that. It is not about adults. This is about children. This is about making the best possible choices for the people who are, for the most part, disempowered and unable to make those choices for themselves. This is about the exercise of what some in this place would like to refer to, on other occasions, as the exercise of the precautionary principle. Others might say, "If in doubt, do no harm."That is what it is about.

I thank the members of the community for their support, for turning out on three occasions, two of those in adverse weather conditions. By the general estimation, 3,000 people have turned out in Civic Square to send a message loud and clear to this legislature that this is wrong and that many-I daresay most-of the people in this community have very grave reservations about what is being done in this place tonight and the impact it will have over the years upon the children of the ACT.

Earlier in the debate, Ms Dundas said that this was done in Western Australia three years ago and the moral fibre of the community there has not fallen apart. What happened three years ago in Western Australia is in many ways immaterial and, as I said in an aside to my colleague at the time, we will not know for years what the impact of that

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