Page 3433 - Week 11 - Thursday, 19 September 2013

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… if a State believes in something for its community through its Parliament, you enact and work through the issues as best you can. The complexity issue needs to be dealt with but, if that was a stumbling block, there are lots of things you would never do.

The government does not consider uncertainty as an excuse not to act, and the passage of this law will foster certainty in other ways—that is, gender and sexuality will not be grounds for discrimination of any kind in this territory. It is not a reason for us not to exercise our mandate to legislate for our territory, for our community.

The 2011 census estimates that there over 33,000 same-sex couples across Australia. Census data indicates that the ACT has the highest rates of both male and female same-sex couples of any state or territory in the country. As legislators for our community, therefore, we have a duty to end discrimination against people who are a significant part of our city.

We must acknowledge that there are members of our community who do not support same-sex marriage, yet we must say to them that this law has no impact on them or their relationships. No marriage is downgraded or reduced as a consequence of this law. No minister of religion is required to solemnise a marriage ceremony under this law. No church or other place of worship is required to be made available for marriage ceremonies under this law.

It is clear that society’s expectation of marriage has changed over time. We acknowledged this with the introduction of no-fault divorce. We acknowledged it when we repealed the law that allowed the circumstances of marriage as a defence against the crime of rape. Our concept of marriage and what constitutes a valid and meaningful relationship has evolved as our society has, and this law represents part of that evolution.

The possibility of a legal challenge does not diminish our duty to make this law, neither does it lead to the conclusion that our law would be defeated. The bill affirms that the love that exists outside binary human relationships is not less than the love between a man and a woman. Gender does not determine the value of a person, and it must not be held to determine the value of a relationship.

Our human rights provide that everyone has the right to recognition before the law. It affirms that everyone has the right to enjoy their human rights without distinction or discrimination of any kind, and it proclaims that everyone is equal before the law and is entitled to the equal protection of the law without discrimination on any ground. I commend this bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Hanson) adjourned to the next sitting.

Statute Law Amendment Bill 2013 (No 2)

Mr Corbell, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

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