ACT government amends Marriage Equality Bill before tomorrow's vote
Ahead of tomorrow’s historic vote, marriage equality advocates have welcomed moves by the ACT Government to strengthen its same-sex marriage legislation.
ACT Attorney-General, Simon Corbell, announced further amendments that will help ensure the Bill has a better chance of surviving a High Court challenge.
Speaking of the amendments, Ivan Hinton, Deputy Director of Australian Marriage Equality (AME) congratulated the ACT government on heeding the constitutional concerns expressed by legal experts.
“We hope the amendments will improve the likelihood this bill will survive the High Court challenge which has already been announced by the Federal Attorney-General,” Hinton said.
Hinton also took time out to address the concerns of trans and intersex people who had commented they felt excluded by the ‘same-sex’ marriage legislation.
"Transgender and intersex people are not excluded from this legislation,” said Hinton, elaborating, “For the purposes of state and federal law almost all Australians are currently identified as either male or female and, as a consequence, will be able to marry under the federal law or the territory law depending on their circumstances.
"The references to "same-sex" that will be included in the Bill to strengthen it, refer to legal gender not sexual orientation. This law is not specific to gay and lesbian Australians.
"It is unfair on members of the transgender and Intersex communities to feel they are excluded when this is not actually the case."
Hinton commented that ACT and Federal Gender laws need to be changed to fully recognise intersex people.
Sydney MP and Chairman of AME, Alex Greenwich commented state and federal government’s needed to recognise intersex people, but a state or territory marriage bill was not the place to make such a change – additional legislation is needed.
“There has been a lot of misreporting about the ACT and State Bills and how they deal with trans and intersex people. Currently both ACT and Federal government recognise someone as either male or female, this should be changed in both cases to fully recognise intersex people,” said Greenwich.
“It is impossible for a Territory or State marriage bill to bring about this change, and will require separate legislation, that I hope is forth coming.”
Nonetheless, Greenwich believes that once the ACT marriage bill passes, depending on the gender of their partner, a trans or intersex person would be able to marry either under the Territory or Federal Marriage Act.
Earlier today, OII Australia VP Tony Briffa issued a statement encouraging Tasmania and NSW marriage equality advocates to adopt amended bills modelled on the ACT marriage equality bill, as it is supportive of the rights of both intersex and trans people.