23rd September 2022 - Queensland Police Service to make historic apology to LGBTIQ+ community
The Queensland Police Service has committed to issuing a formal apology to the LGBTIQ+ community for historic enforcement of discriminatory laws in the state. It comes after police were asked not to wear their uniforms again if attending this weekend's Brisbane Pride Festival March and Rally on Saturday. Read more...
23rd September 2022 - Petition urges further protections in overhaul of Equal Opportunity Act
Local LGBTQIA+ advocacy group Rainbow Futures WA have welcomed the news that the McGowan Government will be overhauling the state’s Equal Opportunity Act, but say more can be done to bring us in line with the east coast on LGBTQIA+ protections. Read more...
23rd September 2022 - Art teacher quits after students called him anti-gay slurs
In 2019, shortly after earning his teaching credential, Jake Gless, 42, joined the faculty at Lakewood Public Schools in Michigan as a middle-school art teacher. Two years later, after being harassed by his very own students and lacking support from school administrators, he was out. Read more...
21st September 2022 - Why this 16-metre-wide rainbow dress is on display on Sydney
A giant, colourful dress made from the flags of the 71 countries where it remains illegal to be LGBTIQ+ has come to Australia ahead of Sydney WorldPride this summer. Read more...
21st September 2022 - Teachers’ union, transgender centre rejected by Sydney Mardi Gras parade
The NSW teachers’ union and the state’s largest transgender service centre say they are disappointed and dismayed after being excluded from next year’s Sydney Mardi Gras parade, as organisers claim there was simply no room owing to high demand. Read more...
21st September 2022 - DONALD TRUMP-LOVING GAY REPUBLICAN GEORGE SANTOS SAYS HE SUPPORTS DON’T SAY GAY BILL
A gay Republican George Santos is currently running to represent New York’s 3rd congressional district. Santos’ opponent gay Democrat Robert Zimmerman has dubbed him “more extreme than most Republicans are, and dangerously divisive and radical” and not without reason. Read more...
16th September 2022 - ‘Kaison has two mums’: discrimination complaint lodged over lack of census questions on sexuality
Newcastle parent April Long says it was shocking to discover 2021 census asked where their child’s ‘mother and father’ were born. Read more...
13th September 2022 - NSW Labor MP raises concerns over puberty-blocking treatment at Newcastle clinic for trans and gender diverse children
The New South Wales Health Minister says he will seek advice on processes at a gender clinic in Newcastle after a budget hearing was told it may be putting children on puberty-blocking medication too quickly. Read more...
13th September 2022 - Homosexuality wasn't decriminalised in Queensland until 1991, but the state has a long and rich queer history
Late at night on the banks of the Brisbane River, two young men settled on a spot between a Moreton Bay fig and a fence.
It was 1968. The teens had nowhere else to go and thought nobody could see them.
The liaison was short lived. A harsh light ripped away the darkness like a bed sheet. It was a policeman's torch.
"They thought we were trying to break into the milk factory," Bill Rutkin says with a chuckle.
"When they worked out we were both gay men and probably about to commit an offence, they just gave us a good thumping and told us to go and see a psychiatrist." Read more...
12 September 2022 - ‘I no longer question who I am’: they’re rural, trans and staying put
When trans woman Zara Jones came out after living in Bendigo for a decade – and lost friends and a support network as a result – she quickly realised the critical need to support trans, gender-diverse and non-binary (TGDNB) residents in rural Victoria. Read more...
9th September 2022 - From Princess Diana to Prince Harry, here are 9 times the royal family showed support for the LGBTQ community
It may be interesting at this time, to reflect back on the support the Royal Family has shown the LGbTIQA+ community. Read more...
8th September 2022 - Peppa Pig introduces same-sex couple as Penny Polar Bear's two mummies
UK children's show Peppa Pig has introduced a same-sex parent family for the first time in it's 18-year history. Read more...
6th September 2022 - How Targeting LGBTQ+ Rights Are Part of the Authoritarian Playbook
In the last three decades, protections for LGBT people’s rights have advanced rapidly in many countries and regions. However, rising populist authoritarianism poses a significant threat to this progress because abolishing sexual freedom is often at the heart of repressive political projects. Read more...
6th September 2022 - JEA's Petition is presented to the Senate
6th September 2022 - JEA's Petition on it's way to Parliament
4th September 2022 - Parenting a trans teen in rural Australia has enriched our lives in ways I never could have imagined
Being trans was not something Milo wanted special attention for, but in a regional town it wasn’t something he could hide. Read more...
3rd September 2022 - Australia Needs an LGBTIQA+ Human Rights Commissioner
Alastair Lawrie explains in careful detail why Australia needs an LGBTIQA+ Human Rights Commissioner. The issue will be debated in the Senate this week.
3rd September 2022 - ‘Please lean in with a bit of empathy’: it’s not easy being trans in rural Australia
Attitudes to TGDNB people may be improving but the lack of dedicated health services is a big problem in the bush. Read more...
Much has changed to improve the lives of queer young people, but many still suffer discrimination that can become life-threatening without stronger support from educators and health professionals. By Jacob Thomas. Read more...
1st September 2022 - Bid to change Queensland law that allows religious schools to discriminate against gay teachers
Under proposed changes, only school staff involved in direct teaching of religion could be subject to different rules. Read more...
31st August 2022 - LGBTIQA+ COMMUNITY REPS NOT INVITED TO JOBS AND SKILLS SUMMITJust.Equal Australia has called on the federal government to include LGBTIQA+ community organisations or representatives in its Jobs and Skills Summit following their conspicuous omission from the list of attendees.
THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
30th August 2022 - Queer Afghans have been forgotten and queer people worldwide continue to be ignored
One year since the fall of Kabul, Micro Rainbow reflects on the hostile environment faced by LGBTQ+ Afghans and the charity’s plan to ensure that “love and unity prevail over fear and divisions”. Read more...
29TH AUGUST 2022 - Trudeau announces launch of $100M plan to fight 2SLGBTQ+ discrimination, increase inclusion
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Sunday the launch of a $100 million plan to combat discrimination and increase inclusion for 2SLGBTQ+ Canadians. Trudeau made the announcement alongside Women and Gender Quality and Youth Minister Marci Ien, who said the majority of the money would go toward community organizations, with $8 million going toward data collection, another $5.6 million spent on building an awareness campaign and $11.7 million going toward the 2SLGBTQ+ Secretariat. Read more...
28th August 2022 - WA Nationals call for change to blood donation rules
The Let Us Give campaign has applauded the West Australian National Party for supporting an end to the current gay blood ban. On Saturday at the WA Nationals state convention, the WA Young Nationals proposed the following motion that was passed with overwhelming support: “That this State Convention of the Nationals WA calls on the National Blood Authority and Red Cross Lifeblood to review policies around blood donation to make them less discriminatory to LGBTIQ+ community members and increase the number of potential blood donors.” Read more...
28th August 2022 - The Jobs and Skills Summit and LGBTIQ Australians Part 2
LGBTIQA+ anti-discrimination advocate, Alastair Lawrie, has written to the ACTU and Business Council of Australia urging them to raise LGBTIQA+ workplace issues at the upcoming Jobs and Skills Summit. So has Just.Equal Australia. Read more...
26th August 2022 - Queensland state schools are leading the way in inclusivity.
26th August 2022 - We need more than purple prose:
Wear It Purple Day is a grass-roots initiative from young LGBTQI+ activists that aims to celebrate diversity, to commemorate the years of queer rights activism as well as raise awareness of the struggles queer folks have had to face here in Australia. Over the years it has shifted from negative mental health impacts and self-harm prevention to also celebrate rainbow young people and pride. Read more...
25th August 2022 - Government urged to include 'overlooked' LGBTQIA+ community in upcoming summit
Advocacy group Just.Equal Australia has called out the government after it "overlooked" the LGBTQIA+ on the Summit Issues Paper of the upcoming Jobs and Skills Summit, encouraging them to also address the issues faced by the community. Read more...
25th August 2022 -Home Office has sent 3,000 queer refugees back to violent anti-LGBTQ+ countries, new data reveals
The Tory government has been accused of “failing to stand up” for the LGBTQ+ community as it emerged that the Home Office granted fewer than 700 LGB asylum claims in 2021. Read more...
25th August 2022 - Jim Chalmers says LGBTIQA+ employment is on the agenda
"Treasurer Jim Chalmers has told OUTinPerth that the government’s upcoming jobs and skills summit will include consideration of the unique challenges some people in the LGBTIQA+ communities face." Read more,,,
24th August 2022 - Muslim scholars urge Indonesia to look the other way as Singapore, Vietnam ease anti-gay laws
- Indonesian Ulema Council chairman says LGBT community is ‘condemned’ by all six state-recognised religions, even though homosexuality is not illegal in country
- Discourse on LGBT rights highlights ‘generation gap’ that could complicate Indonesia’s acceptance towards marginalised sexual communities, observers say
24th August 2022 - Hungary’s Anti-LGBT Laws Create A Threatening Environment For Human Rights
"In June 2021, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and the National Assembly passed a legislation by 157 votes to one, banning the depiction or promotion of LGBT-related material to individuals under 18. In particular, the law prohibits material that promotes homosexuality or sex reassignment through TV shows and films featuring gay characters, educational programs, and visual material such as rainbow flags." Read more...
24th August 2022 - Religious schools in WA can sack a teacher if they are LGBTIQ+. Proposed laws aim to prevent this
"Coming out as gay can be a mentally and emotionally challenging time, but for Perth man Craig Campbell, it was made more difficult when he lost his job because of his sexuality." Read more...
23rd August 2022 - Biased Science in Texas & Alabama
"The best scientific evidence shows that gender dysphoria is real, that untreated gender dysphoria leads predictably to serious, negative medical consequences, and that gender-affirming care significantly improves mental health outcomes, including reducing rates of suicide." Read more...
24th August 2022 - Vietnam says being gay is ‘not a disease’
The nation’s ministry of health said in an official document released in August that being LGBTQ+ is “entirely not an illness” and “cannot be ‘cured’ nor need[s] to be ‘cured’ and cannot be converted in any way”. Read more...
23rd August 2022 - Albanese government must not snub LGBTIQA+ issues at Jobs Summit
22nd August 2022 - The Jobs and Skills Summit and LGBTIQ Australians Part 1
The Govenrment’s Jobs and Skills summit addresses issues faced by women, First Nations people, people with disability, older Australians, migrants and refugees, and those living in regional and remote areas. But not LGBTIQA+ people. We aren’t mentioned despite experiencing high evens of workplace discrimination. In this article, Alastair Lawrie looks at two key areas for our community: the failure of the Fair Work Act to explicitly protect trans, gender diverse and intersex people from discrimination, and the failure of federal and some state laws to protect LGBTIQA+ employees from discrimination by faith-based schools and services. Read more...
19th August 2022 - Just Equal Welcomes WA Reforms: Calls to go Further
4th August 2022 - 'Pretend integrity': Greens blast Labor's human rights bill - The Advocate
3rd August 2022 - ‘Overdue’: Labor rejects Greens LGBTIQ+ amendment
3rd August 2022 - Greens' proposal to appoint an LCBTIQA+ Human Rights Commisioner voted down.
1st August 2022 - Plibersek voices support for changing the rules around blood donation
1st August 2022 - Calls for the appointment of an LGBTIQA+ Human Rights Commissioner
31st July 2022 - Where's Our Human Rights Commissioner?
The new Federal Government has tabled a bill to ensure more transparency in the appointment of commissioners at the Australian Human Rights Commission. That’s great, but it should also include the appointment of an LGBTIQA+ Human Rights Commissioner. Just.Equal Australia has written to all supportive minor parties and cross benches asking them to get behind this overdue initiative. For more: https://ymlpmail9.net/zUZs48
28th July 2022 - Tanya Plibersek supports review of the current Red Cross Lifeblood ban
26th July 2022 - Lifting of mad cow ban reignites calls to allow gay men to give blood
25th July 2022 - Australians In The UK during Mad Cow Can Now Donate Blood
23rd July 2022 - Who is Labour Afraid Of?
21st July 2022 - Bill Shorten to Remove 'Birthing Parent'. from medical forms
July 16th 2022 - Help Remove the Current Blood Ban.
July 12th 2022 - Just.Equal Calls For End to Sacking of LGBTIQA+ Teachers in WA
July 5th 2022 - Australia's Lifeblood Weighing Rule Change for Gay Plasma Donation
“Lifting the current ban on plasma donation by gay and bisexual men, and trans women and some non binary people who have sex with men, will not solve the problem of Australia’s dangerously low supplies of whole blood.” - Thomas Buxereau from Let Us Give
July 4th 2022 - Lifeblood Move to Lift Donor Constraints
Allowing gay men to give plasma won't make any difference to the shortage of whole blood Australia is experiencing. Quarantined gay plasma donation was abandoned in other countries like Israel and Canada because it didn't work. Instead, they rapidly moved on to assessing all donors for their individual risk, which is what Australia should do too. A news report about gay plasma donation attached. The response from the Let Us Give campaign here: https://ymlp.com/zsQsoMM
30th June 2022 - ABS Under Fire Over 'non-binary' Census Question
29th June 2022 - Quinns Baptist College Refuses Student's New Name
20th June 2022 - FINA Trans Decision Slammed
Sally Goldner comments on the decision of world swimming federation, FINA, to ban trans women from elite-level womens swimming.
June 17th 2022 - Let Them Give
17th June 2022 - Thank You Janet Rice
Thank you, Janet Rice, for all you have done as the Greens’ LGBTIQA+ spokesperson. Just.Equal Australia welcomes Stephen Bates to the role.
16th June 2022 - Joe Wants to Donate
Joe wants to donate blood. He can't because of his sexuality
Canada, France, Greece, Lithuania and Austria have all removed restrictions on gay and bisexual men donating blood this year. On World Blood Donor Day there are renewed calls for Australia to do the same.
16th June 2022 - 'Let Us Give' Campaigner Thomas Buxereau on blood donation
15th June 2022 - Dr Sharon Dane Explains the Science Behind Dropping the Gay, bi, and Trans Blood Ban.
14th June 2022 - 'Let Us Give' Campaigner, Thomas Buxereau on Dropping the Archaic Ban on Blood Donation
14th June 2022 - Sign the Petition to change the Ban on Blood Donation.
9th June 2022 - Church Authorities May be able to Reject New Employment Applicants.
5th June 2022 - LNP's Culture War Against Inclusive Schools
1st June 2022 - Just.Equal calls for Australia to abandon gay blood donor ban
1st June 2022 Sign the Petition Calling on the Gvernment to Act Quickly on LGBtIQA+ Equality and Inclusion
31st May 2022 - Call On Albanese to Appoint Equality Minister
31st May 2022 - Advocates Calling for Change to Blood Donation Laws as Stocks Plummet
31st May 2022 - Individual Risk Assessment Would Make the Blood Supply Safer
31st May 2022 - ACT Drafts Australian-first Legislation to Stop Deferrable Surgical Interventions on iIntersex Children
30th May 2022 - LGBTQ Domestic Violence Awareness Day: Survivor shares her story
28th May 2022 - Why The Election Has Unlocked The Door To Real LGBTIQA+ Change
27TH MAY 2022 - ACT Move To End Non-Consenting Intersex MedicalIintervention
27TH MAY 2022 - Cal lFor Other States To Follow ACT Lead On Protecting Intersex Children
26TH MAY 2022 - Sorry Day Commemorated Across The Country
24TH MAY 2022 - Both Major Parties Ignored the LGBTIQA+ Vote. It Cost Them Dearly!
23rd May 2022 - Austria to Lower Hurdles for LGBT+ Citizens to Donate Blood
22nd May 2022 - Just.Equal Welcomes Election Result: Opportunity to Move Forward
Just.Equal Australia today welcomed yesterday’s election result saying Australia enjoys a unique opportunity to move forward on LGBTIQA+ human rights.
22nd May 2022 - Just.Equal Welcomes Election Result as Unique Opportuniy to Move Rights Forward.
“The true winners in this election have been equality, inclusion and acceptance for LGBTIQA+ Australians." - Sally Goldner
20th May 2022 - Check Out How The Politicians Responded To Our Survey
20th May 2022 - Has the Australian Electoral Map Been lying to You?
Check out this article by the ABC to find out
20th May 2022 - Will The LGBTIQ+ Vote Make a Difference in Brisbane?
19th May 2022 - Planning on going overseas? Check here first
New research has revealed which countries and destinations are the safest, and most hostile, for LGBTQI+ travellers to visit.
Travel journalists and researchers Asher and Lyric Fergusson have ranked 203 countries for the third LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index using a range of factors including discrimination, marriage equality, morality laws and transgender murder rates.
17th May 2022 - Happy IDAHOBIT !
International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, Biphobia and individual and organizational discrimination and violence against Intersex, Brotherboy, Sistagirl people. Our communities unite to recognize our real life circumstances and to honour innumerable individual and community struggles for justice, common sense, human kindness and compassion. We acknowledge the resilience and dedication of our communities.
Today is a day for thanking our activists and our allies.
On IDAHOBIT day we consider the successes of our struggles but remain realistic about the social changes and reforms that are still desperately needed. We acknowledge that some within LGBTIQA+ communities in Australia, and other western countries enjoy relative peace and security in contrast to those in so many other societies where constant fear, death and lack of opportunity to enjoy life is socially and legally denied and well-being is constantly threatened.
Just Equal Australia unanimously recommits to continuing to strive towards the values and goals we hold and share with other organisations and individuals in Australia. Just Equal Australia will continue to work honestly, ethically and relentlessly with our international friends and allies.
9th May 2022 - Scott Morrison defends delaying protections for LGBTQ students as party tensions resurface
8th May 2022 - How They Voted On The Religious Discrimination Bill
Just.Equal Australia has condemned the Coalition Government for its plan to bring back the Religious Discrimination Bill. It has called for the Coalition to deliver some positive initiatives to reduce discrimination against LGBTIQ+ people instead.
Meanwhile, the PM has said gay students aren’t being expelled from faith-based schools. That’s not true, but even if they aren't being expelled then what’s wrong with ensuing it doesn’t happen again by banning it? As for trans students, it’s obvious to everyone they are facing discrimination. But the Government seems fine with that. The attached table is a handy reminder of who voted for what during the religious discrimination debate in February.
5th May 2022 - Electoral Survey Results Are In
The results from the 2022 Election Survey are in and shows religious exemptions and school safety are among the top priorities. Now, JEA will use the results to seek commitments from all the major parties.
3rd May 2022 - Morrison Promise to Re-Introduce Religious Discrimination Bill Slammed
29th April 2022 - Canada Removes Ban On Blood Donations From Gay Men
18th April 2022 - Catholic Schools Call For Religious Discrimination Law Plan
16th Apr 2022 - LGBTIQ Lobby Joins Catholics in Albo Ultimatum
16th Apr 2022 - Ten Months of Transphobia
16th April 2022 - Greens Leader Adam Bandt Says Trans Rights are 'Non-Negotiable'
16th Apr 2022 - Advocates Urge Politicians to Hear Real Issues Facing Trans Folks
14th Apr 2022 - Greens Call For Gender surgery to go on Medicare
The AGE. Great to see some positive transgender policy commitments from the Greens. As Sally Goldner says it’s an antidote to all the anti-trans fear-mongering.
13th Apr 2022 - Australia Prime Minister Reiterates Opposition to Trans Women in Female Sports
11th Apr 2022 - Trans Advocates Call for Election Debate on Issues that Matter, not 'Faux' Culture Wars
7th Apr 2022 - Labor Called on to Answer Questions about LGBTQ+ Teachers
23rd Mar 2022 - Queer Conversation with Dr Sharon Dane
23rd Mar 2022 - Advocates Call on Albanese to meet Trans Community
22nd March 2022 - Survey Gives LGBTIQA+ Commnuities Voice On Election Prioritiies.
Thanks to LOTL for publishing this article on Just.Equal Australia's federal election survey.
21st Mar 2022 - Teachers Asked to Sign Anit-Gay Contract
Citipointe College is in the news again, this time asking teachers to sign a contract saying they'll be sacked if they're LGBTIQ+.
4th Mar 2022 - Russian Post-Invasion Kill List Includes Ukrainian LGBT Citizens
Just.Equal Australia has called on the Australian Government to welcome Ukrainian LGBTIQ+ refugees after it was revealed invading Russian forces have a kill list that includes LGBTIQ+ people.
6th Feb 2022 - Don't Bargain With Bigostry
6th Feb 2022 - Our Blood Is Safe
6th Feb 2022 - Reports On religious Bill Show Both Major Parties Out Of Touch
Religious discrimination bill should be passed with caveats, two inquiries recommend SBS News.
4th Feb 2022 - 5 Things We Learned from the Senate Hearing into the Religious Discrimination Bill
3rd Feb 2022 - Tell the Liberals to Kill The Bill
3rd February 2022 - Australians Overwhelmingly Oppose Key Provisions of the Religioous Licence to Discriminate Bill.
2nd Feb 2022 - Citipointe Stance Makes Arguing Against the Religious Discrimination Bill Easier
2nd Feb 2022 - Gay Blood Donor Restrictions Stop Us Saving Lives
I don't know if anyone still needs to hear this in 2022, but not just gay men can contract HIV.
25th Jan 2022 - Advocates Renew Calls for Changes to Blood Ban as Donation Needed
23rd Jan 2022 - Why The Religious Discrimination Bill Must Be Rejected
21 Jan 2022 - Brian Greig on Behalf of Just.Equal Australia
20th Jan 2022 - Greece Removes Ban On Queer Men Donating Blood
11th Jan 2022 - Just.Equal Calls for LGBTIQA+ Focus in Religious Bias Inquiries
7th Jan 2022 - Stop the Licence-to-Discriminate Bill
5th Jan 2022 - Equality, Not Discrimination
1st Jan 2022 - Take a Stance Against the Religious Licence-to-Discriminate Bill
30th Nov 2021 - Hard Times are Upon Us
Hi community members and allies
The Just Equal board notes that the proposals relating to so-called Religious Discrimination bills are likely to be introduced to federal parliament this week, with much debate in all forms of media to follow.
We sadly recall the often difficult and challenging experiences that took place before, during (and even after) the 2017 marriage postal survey. In this light, we are concerned that many LGBTIQA+ people, family members and allies will experience similar distress at this peak time of debate over this legislation, given some aspects of it are likely to be damaging both directly and indirectly for many folk in our communities. We are concerned that the tabling of this divisive legislation may have many unintended consequences with the greatest impact on the mental health and well being of people who have struggled all their lives to create a welcoming and accepting space in which to survive and be accepted.
We strongly affirm the idea of self-care as needed. Every individual knows what works best for them like exercise, pets, music, TV, a bath, breathing exercises. We offer some general thoughts:
- Pull back from reviewing media articles, discussion on social media if things even begin to feel a little bit tough
- Talk to friends and supports
- Check in on each other
- Utilise services such as Qlife 1800184527 www.qlife.org.au/ or www.rainbowdoor.org.au/ or 1800729367 or services in your state/territory
If you are doing ok, Just Equal and other community organisations advocating to expose this unnecessary legislation for what it is will welcome your support. Now is the time to stand together and activate for those who can't. One way you can do that is to send a message to Labor to speak out against this proposal and do all they can to kill the bill.
1st June 2018 - Responding to the Religious Privilege Movement
11th March 2017 - DEVIL IN THE DETAIL: The choice between true marriage equality and new forms of discrimination against LGBTI Australians
This new book by long-time marriage equality campaigner, Rodney Croome, asks the question, should the LGBTI community compromise on marriage equality? Should we accept being allowed to marry in return for new laws that allow us to be discriminated against?
The book looks at what compromises are likely to be proposed, how they will be put forward under the cover of "religious freedom", how they will be defended and why we should not accept them.
Rodney also considers who has the right to make the difficult choices at stake.
Australian commentator, Peter van Onselen, has written,
“I don’t think churches should be compelled to marry gay couples if it’s against their belief systems, but a Christian baker refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding sounds pretty bigoted to me. These are issues worthy of further debate.”
Rodney Croome's book is an important contribution to that debate. Download Devil In The Detail here.
Addendum to Devil In The Detail, Jan 2018
This book was written before the passage of legislation allowing Australian LGBTI people to marry in December 2017. The purpose then was to make a case against compromises in that legislation which allowed discrimination in the name of “religious freedom” (or religious privilege as it should be known). With the religious privilege movement currently in full swing this discussion is now more important than ever.
Downloadable Addendum here.
18 jan 2017
We are concerned that any marriage equality legislation that entrenches the unequal treatment of LGBTI couples undermines the point of providing for these couples to marry. Indeed, it cannot properly be called “marriage equality”. The many people who support marriage equality because it provides for equality would find it very difficult to support legislation that takes with one hand while giving with the other.
Just.equal is a national LGBTIQ lobbying, advocacy and campaign group with a focus on anti-discrimination protections and on marriage equality. Our mandate comes from the extensive and exhaustive research we conduct on the views of LGBTIQ Australians.
In this submission “same-sex couples” refers all those adult couples who the meet the criteria for marriage except they are not male and female. We will use “marriage equality” to refer to laws that allow them to marry.
We support marriage equality in principle, including the intent of the Marriage Amendment (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill.
We support allowing ministers of religious to refuse service to any couple whose relationship does not conform to their religious views.
We oppose all provisions that specifically allow same-sex couples to be refused service by marriage-related service providers including civil celebrants and businesses owned and operated by religious organisations.
We believe the Marriage Amendment (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill should be fully inclusive regardless of sex, gender or sexual orientation.
Reasons for supporting marriage equality
The case for marriage equality has been made consistently and well over many years, including to several parliamentary inquiries. We will not give a detailed exposition on the need for marriage equality except to remind the inquiry that:
a) marriage equality is based on values of legal equality, personal freedom, inclusion and respect
b) there is significant evidence that marriage equality boosts the health and wellbeing of LGBTIQ people and their families, as well as strengthening their relationships and the institution of marriage
c) there is no evidence that marriage equality has undermined marriage as an institution, the wellbeing of children or religious freedoms anywhere it has been enacted.
We are more than happy to provide extra information, including empirical research, in regard to any of these points if it is required by the Committee.
Reasons for opposing provisions that allow refusal of service to same-sex couples.
As stated above, we support the current provision of the Marriage Act that allows religious ministers to refuse to marry any couple based on the minister’s beliefs.
We oppose all other provisions of the Marriage Amendment (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill that allows refusal of service to same-sex couples who intend to marry. First we deal with concerns specific to particular provisions, then general concerns.
It is unnecessary to provide ministers of religious with an additional legal right to refuse service to same-sex couples when they already have this right for all couples.
Civil celebrants are delegated by the government to perform a government duty, much like justices of the peace. They are also private business owners who provide a commercial service. On both counts, they should not be able to refuse service to anyone on the basis of their relationship status, sexual orientation or gender identity. We are not aware of any organised call or demonstrated need for civil celebrants to be able to discriminate against same-sex couples.
Religious organisations provide commercial services that could be relevant to marriages.
These commercial services should be subject to the same laws as all commercial services.
That means they should not be able to refuse service to anyone on the basis of their relationships status or sexual orientation.
We are concerned that the proposed provisions are specific to same-sex couples. This means same-sex relationships will continue to be stigmatised as second-rate and less worthy than heterosexual relationships. One of the main reasons for allowing same-sex couples to marry is to challenge the deep, historical stigma and prejudice against same-sex relationships. We oppose the proposed provisions because they will perpetuate this stigma.
Access to services
We are concerned that couples in rural and regional areas may find it difficult to access wedding services under the proposed provisions. One of the main reasons we support marriage equality is to allow couples to celebrate their love and commitment with friends and family in those places that mean the most to them, for example, in the communities they grew up in. Denial of wedding services can limit the choices same-sex couples make about where to celebrate their marriages.
We are concerned that any marriage equality legislation that entrenches the unequal treatment of same-sex couples undermines the point of allowing same-sex couples to marry. Indeed, it cannot properly be called “marriage equality”. The many people who support marriage equality because it provides for equality would find it very difficult to support legislation that takes with one hand while giving with the other.
We are concerned the proposed provisions undermine Australian anti-discrimination law.
Protections that currently exist under some state laws will be lost. The principle that there should be no discrimination on the grounds of relationship status or sexual orientation will be infringed. The fundamental principle of discrimination law - that everyone should have equal access to the same opportunities in life - will also be violated.
The slippery slope
We are concerned by the precedent the proposed provisions will set. If this parliament accepts that same-sex couples can be discriminated against because of the religious beliefs of service providers, what stops a future parliament allowing discrimination against inter-racial partners, inter-faith partners, civil union partners, or any partners who don’t conform to a particular religious doctrine? Indeed, what stops parliament accepting any form of discrimination that can be justified by holy texts? We note that in the United States a religious freedom bill before that Kentucky state legislature has prompted concerns from those people who feel it is broad enough to encompass couples other than the same-sex couples it explicitly targets.
We are concerned that Australia would be defying the trend in comparable jurisdictions if the proposed provisions were passed. The legislation that achieved marriage equality in the UK, New Zealand, Canada and Ireland did not contain any provisions allowing for the refusal of services (other than by ministers of religion). There is no evidence that religious freedoms have been undermined in those countries. If those countries can pass true marriage equality, Australia should be able to as well.
Debasement of religious values and freedoms
We are concerned that the proposed provisions debase religious values and freedoms.
Because the provisions we object to allow refusal of service only to same-sex couples they are clearly not about genuine religious values, they are about permitting prejudice. If they were about the former, they would encompass all couples whose relationships might violate religious tenets. Associating religious values with prejudice in this way debases the very concept of religious values and diminishes the reputation of religious institutions in the eyes of everyday Australians. This is why so many people of faith object to the offending provisions. The same goes for religious freedom. There is an unconditional freedom to hold a religious view. But there is not an unconditional freedom to impose religious values on others, or harm or disadvantage others through the practise of these values. To make a claim to the latter freedom devalues the suffering of those religious minorities around the world who are experiencing genuine infringements of their religious freedom.
We are concerned that the proposed provisions allow “conscientious beliefs” to be the basis for refusing service. This is an ill-defined term that conceivably encompasses all forms or personal prejudice. We oppose “religious beliefs” being a legitimate basis for refusing service, as much as we oppose “conscientious beliefs”. Both terms allow discrimination against LGBTIQ people in the provision of government and commercial services. However, at least there is a body of jurisprudence that sets limits on “religious beliefs”. This is much less the case with “conscientious beliefs”.
Ensuring full inclusion
Most marriage equality legislation that has been proposed makes it clear that marriage is between two people regardless of sex, gender or sexual orientation. This helps ensure marriage equality is fully inclusive of transgender and intersex people. We believe the Marriage Amendment (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill should do the same.
The views of the LGBTIQ community
As stated at the outset, just.equal takes its mandate from comprehensive and exhaustive research on the attitudes of LGBTIQ Australians. Together with groups such as Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, just.equal has commissioned research on the issue of refusal of service. The research is currently underway. We ask the Committee’s permission to be able to present a report of the survey when it is completed.
(the survey report is now available here)
29 Oct 2016
We're keeping the up pressure on parliament to vote down a plebiscite with the release of videoed interviews highlighting the true cost of the 2015 Irish marriage equality referendum.
The video will be the centrepiece of the anti-plebiscite campaign in the days leading up to the final Senate vote, with supporters asked to share it with their federal members through the makeitlaw.com.au website.
The video was commissioned by PFLAG and just.equal and produced by Niall Crowley, managing director of Irish communications company, "We the People".
Spokesperson for LGBTI lobby group, just.equal, Ivan Hinton-Teoh said,
"We are stepping up our campaign against a plebiscite and for a free vote to be absolutely sure it is knocked on the head."
"The Make It Law campaign has already delivered over 400,000 emails to MPs and Senators from everyday Australians calling on the plebiscite to be blocked."
"In the final days before the Senate vote we will be encouraging even more Australians to now share this powerful video with their politicians."
National spokesperson for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), Shelley Argent, said,
"I think what this video shows is that public votes on marriage equality put a huge and unnecessary strain on same-sex couples and their families."
"Warren Entsch has proposed a less expensive online plebiscite but that misses the point."
"The fundamental problem with a plebiscite is the human cost not the financial cost."
"The question for me is what path to marriage equality is best for our LGBTI children and I think that is clearly a free vote in parliament, not a plebiscite."
Dr Sharon Dane co-authored "Swimming with Sharks", a recently-released study through the University of Queensland and Victoria University of over 1,500 LGBTI Irish people and their families. The study is not directly linked to the video but it did look at the negative psychological and social impact of the Irish referendum campaign. Dr Dane said,
"The video interviews are in keeping with what our study found - that there was a hidden cost to the Irish referendum."
"Many same-sex couples and their families are still suffering from the hurtful and negative messages the referendum enabled."
The Senate is expected to debate the Government's proposed plebiscite legislation the week starting November 7th.
13th Oct 2016
In conjunction with global LGBTI rights group All Out we delivered a petition of 92,068 signatures to the Australian parliament on 13 October 2016.
The message was a simple one: Thank You For Promising To Block The Plebiscite! This 2.4m tall thank you card was delivered throughout parliament and attracted enthusiastic signatures from across the political spectrum.