Page 437 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 15 February 2017

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Secondly, the MPs have the right today, if they so choose, to vote for marriage equality. Of course, the Greens would strongly suggest that that is the choice they should make.

This is why the Greens voted against the plebiscite. It was not to hold up progress to equal marriage. It was to ensure that the progress, which I am sure we will have, would be respectful and minimise the risk of harm. It is a bit upsetting. Particularly yesterday, the Greens were accused of standing in the way of progress. The Greens did as we always do. We listen to the community that was going to be most affected by this. The community felt that they were going to be adversely affected by the plebiscite. We acted responsibly. We put the community first, the community that felt that it might be hurt by this plebiscite.

Of course, marriage equality and equal rights for LGBTIQ people is a fundamental principle. All Greens are aligned to this. We believe that all people have fundamental human rights and are entitled to the equal protection of the law without any discrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status. Secondly, we believe that inclusion and celebration of diversity are essential for social justice and equality. Thirdly, we believe that people have the right to their self-identified gender, which is integral to people’s lived experiences as citizens and as members of the community.

Fourthly, society should be free of harassment, abuse, vilification, stigmatisation, discrimination, disadvantage or exploitation on the basis of actual or assumed sex, sexual orientation or gender identity of a person or someone they are associated with. Fifthly, society should be free of discrimination based on family formation or the sex, sexual orientation and gender identity of parents and/or carers. Sixthly, the health needs of all Australians should be provided for without discrimination of any kind. Everybody has the right to have their specific health needs met with equity, dignity and respect. Lastly, all people, including intersex and gender diverse people, have a right to bodily autonomy and physical integrity

Marriage equality is not a moral question. It is a question of fundamental human rights and the right for everybody to be treated as equal in our community. As we know from previous experience, the territory is unfortunately limited in its ability to provide marriage equality in the ACT. Indeed, it was the High Court of Australia that held that the federal parliament has the power under the Australian Constitution to legislate in respect of same sex marriage. Under the constitution and federal law as it now stands, whether or not same-sex marriage should be provided for by law is a matter for the federal parliament.

As I said, that is the other reason that we voted against the plebiscite. It is unnecessary. The High Court made it abundantly clear that the parliament has the power to change the Marriage Act and it should just get on with the job. We know that the vast majority of Australians support marriage equality and believe that all of us deserve to be recognised equally. The love of two people, regardless of their gender, deserves to be respected and celebrated as much as the love of any other two people.

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