Fairness and equality are at the heart of Australian society. We believe our laws should reflect these values of which we are most proud. It’s time for all Australians to be treated equally under the law, with the full rights of equal citizenship.More in depth
Marriage is about the commitment shared between two people who love each other and want a secure future together. LGBTI Australians should have the same opportunities for love, commitment and happiness as everyone else.More in depth
Marriage equality means something different to everyone and every couple. Find out what it means for Paul and Alex, and their family.Meet Alex & Paul
Words matter. Marriage means every relationship is equal and has the same value. LGBTI Australians and our family members and friends just want the same recognition and value for our life-long, loving and committed relationships. All couples want to be there for each other through thick and thin, grow old together and be able to retire with dignity — and know that their life-long relationships are equal.
LGBTI stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex. In Australia, the Commonwealth Government uses the initials “LGBTI” to refer collectively to people who are in this group. The ABC has produced a helpful glossary to explain these terms further.
No child will be negatively affected because of marriage equality in Australia. In fact, some children will benefit because finally their parents will be able to marry.
LGBTI people have been successfully parenting in Australia for many years. Marriage equality will not change this but will offer stronger protection to all families.
We can look to countries like the US, UK, Ireland and New Zealand where same-sex marriage is already legal. The benefits to millions of people and their families in these countries have been real, while the fears have not been realised. It’s meant more families are included, strengthened and recognised.
Civil marriage is different and distinct from religious marriage. No religious institution can be forced to marry a lesbian or gay couple against their beliefs (in much the same way as certain religious bodies cannot be forced to marry people who are divorced).
While marriage equality will take nothing away from the religious freedom of those who oppose it, it will restore and uphold the religious freedom of those in favour.
In Australia, the Society of Friends (Quakers), some Jewish synagogues and rabbis, the Metropolitan Community Church, and individual congregations and celebrants within the Anglican, Uniting Church and Baptist churches all condone or perform same-sex unions. Over 100 leading Christian ministers have publicly declared their support for marriage equality including several Anglican bishops.
But their religious freedoms and views are being disrespected, because the same-sex ceremonies they perform lack the legal standing of marriage.
Most Australians of faith already support marriage equality – including the majority of Christians (59%) as well as followers of other religions (75%).
Read what some religious leaders have to say:
The Very Rev’d Dr Peter Catt, Dean of St John’s Cathedral, QLD
“The shape and character of marriage has been evolving for thousands of years. In the middle of the last century, marriage was seen as a social institution and women were still handed over to their husbands. People often got married because they had to.
Over the last thirty years or so heterosexual couples have transformed the shape of marriage. Today, a marriage ceremony is a public declaration of love by two people who wish to dedicate their lives to each other.
As a result LGBTI people now recognise marriage as something that describes the hopes and dreams they hold for their relationships. I have enjoyed the friendship of LGBTI people for most of my life. I have been privileged to observe the dedication and love they express in their relationships.
The marriage service in the Anglican Church commences with a quote from the Bible, ‘God is love, and those who live in love, live in God, and God lives in them’. Marriage equality will allow our community to celebrate a wider range of loving relationships and will therefore strengthen our common life.”
Rev’d Rowland Croucher, Baptist Minister, Sydney
“How can I, a heterosexual who’s been very happily married for 50 years, tell anyone else they don’t have the right to form a loving, committed, lifelong union and enjoy the fruits of marriage as I have done? Marriage is not a club to be restricted to some. Like the Gospel, it is a blessing to be shared.”
Venerable Bhante Sujato, Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils, 12 April 2012
"We believe that marriage should be a commitment between people and that it's irrelevant whether it's a man and a woman, two women or two men. And that it's about the love and the sharing that the two people have for each other." (More)
Australian Council of Hindu Clergy, 2016
"We totally support human rights and equality of gender within the secular Australian society in which we live, and have no opposition whatsoever to any changes in the law and the legal definition of marriage that the democratic society deems necessary for the well-being and happiness of all citizens whatever be their gender."(More)
Steve Denenberg, Executive Director, Union for Progressive Judaism, 19 April 2012
“Based on our beliefs that each person is created in the image of God, the way that person expresses his or her sexuality, each person is equal. Therefore, their rights for full participation in society should be equal, including the right to marry. Equality would dictate that same-gender couples should be able to marry.” (More)
Julian Robertson, Presiding Clerk, Australia Yearly Meeting, 6 August 2015
“Our views on marriage arise out of the testimony on equality and justice. Quakers regard marriage and commitment as a fundamentally spiritual matter… In recent years, as a result of our consistently held belief in the equal worth of all people, Australian Quakers have recognised that committed, same-sex relationships are as valuable as other committed and loving relationships. We have celebrated same-sex commitment ceremonies within our Meetings… "
"We are aware that some other denominations oppose making marriage available to same-sex couples, but ask you to note that those views are not representative of all Christians in Australia.” (More)
Rev’d Bill Crews, Uniting Church Minister, Sydney
“Today in Australia we all live in a secular non-discriminatory society. Churches and other spiritual institutions exist within this society. It seems to me that in a secular and non-discriminatory society gay couples should be as free to marry as any other human couple. If people wish to be married within a religious or spiritual institution’s framework then they should accept the rites and rules of that institution. However, it is the state that legitimises all marriages.”
You may not think you know gay people but chances are you know someone who does. You probably do too.
Many parents realise that they may have lesbian or gay children or grandchildren in the future, and want all their children to grow up in a country where they can have the same aspirations in life. They do not want second best for their child.
LGBTI people are our sons and daughters, uncles and aunts, colleagues, neighbours and friends. Until now they’ve been allowed to be mothers and fathers, but not husband and wives. It’s time to end this discrimination and move forward as a nation, in accordance with Australia’s deep respect for fairness and equality.
Achieving marriage equality gives us the chance to shape the Australia we want to live in. If you believe in a fair and equal Australia where all people are treated the same, then you can show your support in a variety of meaningful ways.
Right now all couples can have their relationship recognised as a ‘de facto’ union under Australian law if they meet certain criteria, namely living together.
However, just like other couples who live together and then choose to marry, marriage is also important to many same-sex couples. Marriage matters to people, regardless of gender.
Both civil unions and same-sex law reform have been positive steps embraced by Australian society and many LGBTI couples. However, they still fall short of full legal equality. Only marriage can achieve that.
Affirming all couples’ freedom to marry says that we are a country that believes in treating people equally — that we value love and commitment and believe every Australian has the right to happiness.
Polls show most Australians have been in favour of full marriage equality for some time now. In fact, most of us just believe it’s only a matter of time.
But right now there are currently two possible pathways to achieving marriage equality sooner rather than later, which makes this an important conversation for all Australians to be having – from those of us who believe passionately in marriage equality to those who aren’t so sure yet.
The first way forward is to simply update our laws through a vote in Parliament. A free vote in Parliament is the most efficient and effective way of achieving marriage equality. Current leaders of the Coalition, Labor and Greens support marriage equality, as do the majority of MPs. All we need is for MPs to be given the opportunity to vote freely on the issue, rather than being mandated to vote along party lines. This is within the Prime Minister’s power to allow any time.
The second pathway is through a national plebiscite, where voters will be asked to decide on the question directly. While the result would not be legally binding, it would send a strong message to our MPs. The Coalition want a plebiscite, but Labor and the Greens oppose it.
Yes! 21 in fact – including South Africa, New Zealand, France, England, Ireland, Argentina and the United States.
There is growing recognition worldwide across a variety of cultures and religions that everyone benefits from allowing all our citizens to be treated equally, and participate fully in the union of marriage with all of its rights and responsibilities.
Here’s the timeline of progress towards equality worldwide: