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Human rights landmark as Australia legalises marriage equality

Content type: Media Release
Topic(s): Civil and Political Rights, LGBTIQ, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) issues

Parliament has today legislated for a fairer and more equal Australia by legalising marriage equality.

“On this historic day, Australia joins over two dozen countries around the world in legislating for marriage equality,” said Australian Human Rights Commission President, Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM. 

Edward Santow, Human Rights Commissioner, said the law was a milestone for human rights in Australia.

“This important human rights reform will enhance fairness, justice and equality in Australia,” Commissioner Santow said.  “Adult couples will now be able to marry in Australia, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.”

The bill was passed in the House of Representatives by a majority of MPs who were asked to vote with their conscience.

It was introduced by Liberal Senator Dean Smith with cross-party support after a majority of Australians expressed their support for marriage equality in a national survey.

“This public debate has been difficult and distressing for many Australians, especially those directly affected.  The Commission pays tribute to those who have worked tirelessly to bring about this crucial human rights reform,” Commissioner Santow said.

“Parliament has amended our marriage law in a way that also continues to recognise the right of religious ministers to solemnise marriages in accordance with their doctrines, tenets and beliefs.”

The Commission also welcomes the Government’s inquiry into the protection of religious freedom in Australia.

“The Commission has long supported a broad review of how Australia protects freedom of religion, and we look forward to contributing to this review,” said Commissioner Santow.

Professor Croucher has been appointed to an expert panel to be led by the Hon Philip Ruddock to conduct a review of legal protections of religious freedom in Australia. The panel is due to report in March 2018.

Media contact: Rania Spooner, 0448 939 997,