More than 140,000 Australians have signed a petition that was presented to Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s annual party conference.
Ms Gillard opened the Australian Labor Party’s 46th annual meeting today saying she hoped for a “fair dinkum” conference, and adding: “We came here for debate”.
GetUp and Australian Marriage Equality presented the premier with a petition calling on her and her conference delegates to support equal marriage rights for gay couples.
The petition says: “Prime Minister Gillard, delegates to the ALP National Conference: Not allowing same-sex couples to marry denies them and their families legal equality and perpetuates discrimination and prejudice.
“The overwhelming majority of Australians support full marriage equality and it is the right thing to do. Marriage matters: amend the Commonwealth Marriage Act so that same-sex partners can be wed.”
Australian Marriage Equality National Convener, Alex Greenwich, said: “The Australian public has spoken and I’m confident Labor is listening.”
“If, as predicted, the Labor Party changes its platform to support marriage equality it will be a victory for love over prejudice and for equality over discrimination.”
He said a party-wide policy in favour of gay marriage
“But if the Party settles for a conscience vote we are still confident the issue will move forward, the momentum on this issue is unstoppable.”
GetUp National Director Simon Sheikh said: “Petitions like the one we have presented today and consistent polling show that the majority of Australians support this change and it is fundamentally the right thing to do, so it’s time for delegates to step up do the right thing, to end inequality under the law.”
Mr Sheikh said: “Many delegates have already expressed their support for change, not only is this welcome but it also provides young gay and lesbian Australians with hope that one day they will be able to live the life of their dreams.
“The mental health impacts of discrimination cannot be underestimated and that’s why we and over 140,000 other Australians urge delegates to change the Labor Platform to recognise marriage as a commitment made by two people who love each other, regardless of their gender.”
This week, the Queensland Parliament passed its Civil Partnership Bill, 47 votes to 40, which allows for officially-recognised relationships between gay couples. Queensland will join Tasmania, Australian Capital Territory, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales in the list of territories and states which offer registered partnerships.