Concerns raised after Tasmania marriage bill fails
LGBTI people across Australia will be forced to wait some time longer for same-sex marriage laws after Tasmania’s Upper House last night scuttled a bill that would have allowed same-sex couples to enter into marriages recognised by the state.
The Same-Sex Marriage Bill 2012 failed to pass the Legislative Council yesterday evening after exhaustive debate over two days, with only six MPs voting in favour and eight against.
The failure of the Bill came as many Upper House MPs, even some who voted in support, claimed the Bill would not survive a High Court challenge or provide full equality.
Serious concerns have also been raised as to whether the Bill could be promoted as a marriage equality bill in its current guise when it offered little extra legal protection to intersex or trans people.
Gina Wilson, president of Organisation Intersex International (OII), told SX though she supported the passage of the Bill it seemed its introduction was rushed.
“When it was put up it was very, very quick and there was no wide consultation with people of diverse sex and gender as far as I know, and certainly we knew nothing of it until it was effectively in front of the Lower House,” Wilson said.
“While we disagree that is a marriage equality bill – and we don’t think that’s just a matter of semantics – we do not in any way at all oppose the passage of a same-sex marriage bill. We think it is a vital step.”
Sally Goldner, spokesperson for TransGender Victoria, echoed both Wilson’s disappointment and concerns about the Bill’s wording in relation to sex and gender diverse people.
“There is obviously disappointment in the result,” she told SX.
“It is some consolation that there was not the rampant bigotry of the Federal debates; rather opponents expressed reasonable concern including that the bill would not have created full equality, which although possibly not stated, is correct in relation transgender people.”
Premier Lara Giddings and Greens Leader Nick McKim, who co-sponsored the bill together have refused to comment on the matters raised by trans and intersex people despite being contacted on numerous occasions by SX this week.
Australian Marriage Equality national convener, Rodney Croome, rejected the concerns when approached by SX.
“There should be legal recognition of intersex people as intersex, but that is a reform that should be dealt with in its own right and not as part of marriage legislation.
“In Tasmanian law everyone is legally considered either male or female, including intersex people, so everyone not able to marry under the federal opposite-sex marriage law would be able to marry under the state same-sex marriage law,” Croome told SX.
“The Bill provides the option of legal marriage to those Tasmanians who are currently denied that right, which I consider to be full equality.”
Wilson however said a 'round-a-bout' form of marriage equality was not equal to true marriage equality.
“To say intersex can marry as male or female is just the same as saying gay and lesbian people can marry as male and female ... it’s just that we can’t marry as ourselves,” she said.
Giddings said last night that Tasmania had missed a great chance to be a seen as a leader on social reforms.
“I share the disappointment of many people from around Tasmania and around the country who were hoping Tasmania would become a beacon of acceptance for same sex couples,” Giddings said.
Following defeat of the bill, a motion has been introduced into Tasmania’s Parliament calling for an inquiry into the constitutional issues raised during the debate this week.
“We will continue to advocate and lobby on this issue right up to the next Upper House vote which we expect to be sooner rather than later,” Croome said.
The NSW parliamentary cross-party group working to create local state-based marriage equality laws has indicated it will be “reviewing all contributions and issues raised” in the Tasmanian debate before the drafting of a NSW bill.
- Tags: Australian Marriage Equality, Blaze, Constitution, Gina Wilson, Greens, High Court, Hobart, Labor, Lara Giddings, Marriage Equality, MCV, Nick McKim, NSW, OII, Organisation Intersex International, Politics, Queensland Pride, Rodney Croome, Sally Goldner, Same-Sex Marriage Bill 2012, SX, Tasmania, Transgender Victoria