Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A second go for equality in Australia

Same-sex marriage was one of the big issues in the recent Australian election campaign, despite the reluctance of either of the major parties to talk about it. Australian opinion has shifted dramatically away from the bigotry of the past, with 60% now in favour of marriage equality. And while the big parties voted down a Green bill on the topic back in February, its now back on the agenda:

The Greens will re-introduce their Marriage Equality Bill in the Senate today, delivering on a promise made during the federal election.

Greens spokeswoman on Sexuality and Gender Identity, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, told Sydney Star Observer, “On Wednesday I will re-introduce my Marriage Equality Bill, as promised, at the start of the new Parliament.”

Hanson-Young moved a notice of motion for the bill yesterday, so the bill could be introduced at the first available oportunity.

The Greens aren't playing hardball on this, despite the fact that they'll soon have the balance of power in the Senate. instead, all they want is a debate and a conscience vote. It will be interesting to see whether they'll get it, or whether the main parties will bloc-vote against it in pursuit of the votes of bigots in key marginal seats.

Meanwhile, while Australia debates same-sex marriage, over here we're stil stuck with civil unions. Isn't it time we reasserted our progressive credentials and took a stand for equality? Or is New Zealand as much a slave to bigots as Australia and the US?