Australian MPs are fighting back tears as they tell Parliament why their children deserve same-sex marriage
Australian politicians have given emotional speeches as they plead with lawmakers to make same-sex marriage legal for their children.
The House of Representatives watched on as one after the other, politicians took to the floor to talk about the struggles which their LGBT kids kids had been through.
Marriage equality, they said, would show that these youngsters were accepted by their country – that they “shouldn’t be afraid anymore.”
Last month, Australians gave their overwhelming backing to equal marriage in a public vote, by a margin of 61.6% to 38.4%.
The national postal ballot was non-binding, however, leaving the final decision on legislation up to Parliament.
Last week, the Senate voted by 43 to 12 in favour of progressing Dean Smith’s historic piece of legislation.
The bill was the 21st same-sex marriage bill to be brought before the Senate, and the first to succeed – but it still needs to be passed by the House.
Yesterday, MP Tim Wilson proposed to his boyfriend during a speech to the House.
Today, Andrew Wallace, a Liberal National MP, held back tears as he talked about his lesbian daughter suffering from anorexia and bulimia as a teenager.
The 49-year-old said that her inner conflict, as she battled with a secret sexuality which she knew her parents did not believe in, had contributed to her poor mental health.
“My wife and I watched our beautiful daughter – [for] our girls, their sister – fight her demons as she slowly became nothing more than skin and bone, in and out of hospital for long stretches of time over a number of years,” he told Parliament.
“She would wax and wane between sheer determination to regain her health and utter desperation, sinking into the abyss of feeling that there was no hope of an end to this internal conflict.
“What does this story have to do with same-sex marriage, you may ask.
“About three years ago, our daughter told my wife and me that she was attracted to women and that she had a girlfriend,” he explained.
“My wife and I were shocked, probably more me than my wife. I didn’t know what to say.
“Homosexuality went against what I had been taught to believe for many years.
“How could this be happening? How could this be happening to me and to our family?
“Whilst she’d had boyfriends, she has since told me that it never felt quite right, and that she felt that she couldn’t tell us as we would not approve.
“She said she had always secretly been attracted to women, and I’m sure that this internal conflict would have, in some part at least, exacerbated her mental state,” he said.
In a particularly powerful passage, he recalled: “My daughter said something to me which was very prophetic in that initial discussion.
“She said: ‘Dad, in the years to come, my generation will look back and judge your generation about how you deal with the issue of homosexuality in the same way that your generation considered your parents’ generation in the way that they dealt with our Indigenous people.’
“In this country, we do not discriminate against someone because of the colour of their skin, their religion or their place of birth,” he told his fellow lawmakers.
“In law, we are all created equally, and so we ought not in law discriminate against a person by virtue of their sexual preference.”
Linda Burney, the first Indigenous woman elected to the House, cried as she asked that the bill be passed in honour of her late son, Binni, who died in October.
Watch Burney’s speech here:
“I support marriage equality as someone who has, and has had, loved ones who identify as LGBTIQ. To them, marriage equality would mean so much” pic.twitter.com/UAj4UdqWZt
— Linda Burney MP (@LindaBurneyMP) December 5, 2017
“It seemed to be so obvious to me,” she said about same-sex marriage.
“I support marriage equality as someone who has, and has had, loved ones who identify as LGBTIQ.
“To them, marriage equality would mean so much.
“I honour these people and, in particular, my late son, Binni.”
She added: “What marriage equality says to our young people who are anxious about their sexuality, is that whatever you feel, that you shouldn’t be afraid anymore.
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“You are equal. We embrace you, and we love you as a nation.”
The bill is expected to easily pass the House of Representatives when the vote takes place this week.
These latest developments mean that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is on course to meet his pledge of legislating for the historic social reform before Christmas.