To be equal or not to be?

Posted on 25 February 2013

Following the UK House of Commons passing a Bill allowing same sex marriage, it is being reported that the Greens have reintroduced their Marriage Equality Bill into the Senate.

The Greens’ LGBTI spokesperson, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said “Australia is falling behind the rest of the world when it comes to marriage equality and I will now be reintroducing my bill into the Senate...I am reintroducing my marriage equality bill in an effort to bring about this essential reform because, in an election year, the Australian people have a chance to make their voices heard”.

The UK Bill passed by 400 votes to 175. It will now go to a committee for detailed examination starting next week. After that, it is predicted that it will pass the House of Commons. Britain already has civil partnerships between same-sex couples. The new law would allow marriage in civil ceremonies and in religious ceremonies if a church allows it. Australia moved to recognise civil partnerships between same-sex de facto couples in 2008 via their same-sex law reform package which recognised same-sex de facto couples and their families in areas such as taxation, superannuation, social security and family assistance, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme Safety Net and the Medicare Safety Net, aged care, veterans' entitlements, immigration, citizenship and child support and family law.

Although the UK Bill still has several other parliamentary hurdles to clear before becoming law, we will be following the progression of this Bill with keen interest as well as Australia’s reaction to what now appears to be a wave of change. Currently, 10 countries now allow same-sex couples to marry, will Australia follow suit?