Australian same sex marriage bill ‘is discriminatory’

Marriage|January 27th 2017

The Australian Marriage Amendment (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill excludes people who don’t identify as either gender, the country’s Human Rights Commission has claimed.

The bill was introduced by Attorney General George Brandis in October. Amongst other measures, its key proposal is a change in the definition of marriage within the existing Marriage Act from a union of a man and woman “to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life’’, to a union between “two people”. Religious groups would be allowed to opt out of conducting same sex marriages if the legislation became law.

It was the 22nd bill proposing the legalisation of gay marriage to come before the Australian Parliament.

Separate legislation that would enabled a plebiscite (public vote) on the topic proved controversial and was rejected in the Australian Senate in November, amidst claims it could encourage homophobia.

Now the Australian Human Rights Commission under President Gillian Tiggs has claimed the Brandis bill does not go far enough and has called for the draft legislation to be renamed.

The federal agency told a Senate public enquiry into the bill that:

“The draft title of the Act unnecessarily and inaccurately excludes couples which are neither ‘the union of a man and a woman’ nor ‘same sex’. The proposed amendments to the Marriage Act would enable two people to marry irrespective of their sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.”

A change in title would, the agency added, “also include couples in which one or both parties have something other than ‘male’ or ‘female’ recorded on their birth certificate.’’

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