Page 2900 - Week 08 - Thursday, 17 August 2017

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couples to marry. It asks that the Assembly note previous support for a motion on 10 August 2016 which called on the ACT government to do a number of things, amongst which was to demonstrate that the ACT is the most LGBTIQ friendly jurisdiction by supporting the case for marriage equality and to support the LGBTIQ community through the anticipated marriage equality plebiscite debate; and that, consistent with this resolution, the ACT government will provide additional support to the LGBTIQ community through the period of what is now a voluntary postal survey.

The motion also proposes that the Assembly support the ACT government joining and actively participating in the campaign to achieve marriage equality; and, perhaps most fundamentally, proposes that this Assembly reaffirm its view that all Australians should be treated equally under the law, and that that includes being able to marry the person that they love. The motion notes that LGBTIQ Australians should have the same opportunities for love, commitment and happiness as everyone else. In moving this motion today, I can do so confident in the support of all of my colleagues for marriage equality. I am confident in that support because all of my colleagues are great people and because they all believe that LGBTIQ Canberrans should have that same opportunity for love, for commitment and for happiness as everyone else in our community.

We have already seen, since the non-binding voluntary postal survey was announced, a debate that has moved very quickly to being hurtful and divisive. We have seen just outside this place on the weekend some quite extraordinary scenes already, including some public statements published in the daily newspaper suggesting that the LGBTIQ community in this city was showing too much courage—too much courage, Madam Acting Speaker—to stand up for their rights and for fundamental questions of inclusion and equality in this city. Not one postal survey has been sent out yet, and already people are being told that they are showing too much courage. I commend those who are showing the courage to stand up for their rights, and I commend all of the supporters, all of the allies of Canberra’s LGBTIQ community, who are already coming to our aid in this difficult period.

This voluntary postal survey presents unacceptable risks to the health and wellbeing of LGBTIQ Canberrans. And let us be blunt about this: it is forcing people to endure an unnecessary debate about the value of their relationship, their families, and, in many instances already, their personal identity, their value as a human being. Their status as an equal citizen in this city and in this country is being called into question already, and not one survey has been sent out; no television advertising, as far as I am aware, has begun.

I make another clear statement. We did not want to be in this situation. This country did not need to have this divisive debate in this way. But let us be frank: we are here now, and now is the time for good people to make their voices heard. We have already received advice from community groups about the impact that this debate is having on mental health, on relationships and on families in our community. We have received reports of sharp increases in demand for counselling, support, relationship and advice services from people within and associated with the LGBTIQ community.

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