Page 372 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 14 February 2017

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time, I believe, is right for marriage equality. The community understands it is just an issue of basic fairness. Marriage equality is an important step towards reducing the discrimination faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex Australians in same-sex relationships and, importantly, their families.

If the Assembly votes for marriage equality Australia will join countries like New Zealand, Ireland, Canada, Spain, Sweden and South Africa in recognising same-sex marriage. The Greens have listened to the community right from the start and we have acted. We are the only party that has voted for equality—every bill, every time.

Disappointingly, prejudice still exists within our homes, our schools, universities and workplaces. LGBTI youth suffer disproportionately from mental illness and are at risk from suicide and self-harm.

Mr Hanson: Madam Speaker, on a point of order of relevance, the legislation is specifically aimed at civil unions legislation in the ACT. We have a broad lecture from Ms Le Couteur on—no?

MADAM SPEAKER: There is no point of order. Mr Hanson, there is no point of order. Can you resume your seat. Ms Le Couteur, can you continue.

MS LE COUTEUR: Thank you Madam Speaker. As I said, LGBTI youth suffer disproportionately from mental illness and are at risk of suicide and self-harm. The current discussions about exemptions for religious and other organisations are just another form of exclusion and discrimination that will exacerbate the negative experiences that so many LGBTI people experience each day, and if Mr Hanson does not see why equal marriage is relevant to the issues that young people, that young LGBTI youth, are suffering from I guess it just illustrates why equal marriage is so important. People need to be accepted for what they are.

While this amendment is a step in the right direction, until we have marriage equality included in the commonwealth Marriage Act, prejudice and exclusion will still exist. We need strong leadership at a national level and the Greens will not stop fighting until we all have equality. The Greens stand up for genuine equality laws to stop religious schools, hospitals and homeless shelters turning away people or firing them because of their sexuality or gender identity. We will keep LGBTI issues on the agenda as part of creating an equal and inclusive society because we believe that when our community embraces all of our community, which includes, of course, diversity, and celebrates our differences as well as our commonality all of us benefit for a better society.

Debate interrupted in accordance with standing order 74 and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for a later hour.

Sitting suspended from 12.31 to 2.30 pm.

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