Submission on the Exposure Draft of the Marriage Amendment (same-sex marriage) Bill

Submissions
Topics LGBTIQ+

In December 2016 a Select Committee was established by the Senate to examine the Marriage Amendment (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill (the Bill).

The Bill would legislate for marriage equality in Australia by changing the definition of a couple from “man and woman” to “2 people”.

This Inquiry is not considering the merits of marriage equality.

Instead, the Committee has asked for responses to a number of exemptions proposed under the Bill that would allow individuals and organisations who officiate over marriage in Australia to refuse to provide some services to LGBTIQ+ couples getting married. 

DCA believes marriage equality will truly cement fairness and inclusion for the LGBTIQ+ community in the workplace and wider society. We are particularly interested in this Bill due to its creation of an exemption on the basis of ‘conscientious belief’ that could partly undermine the equity that marriage equality should bring.  

Although the inquiry is limited to this Bill, DCA is concerned about the potential precedent it creates in singling out a sector of the community and creating new grounds on which LGBTIQ+ people can be discriminated against.

An explanation of the proposed exemptions was prepared by DCA.

To develop our submission on this Bill, DCA invited its member organisations to respond to a survey on proposed exemptions to the Marriage Act allowing celebrants grounds for refusing to marry LGBTIQ+ couples on the basis of ‘conscientious beliefs’ and whether civil celebrants should be able to refuse to provide services on the basis of a religious belief. 

184 people responded to our survey.

Respondents to our survey overwhelmingly told us that they:

Oppose the introduction of exemptions based on the concept of ‘conscientious belief’ because:

  • The terms are not defined in the legislation,
  • It would be a retrograde step away from efforts to remove all forms of discrimination,
  • There is no precedent currently included in any of Australia’s state or territory anti-discrimination laws,
  • The new exemptions could cause harm to LGBTIQ+ people, and
  • They target only one category of people (LGBTIQ+ people).

Oppose the introduction of exemptions that would allow ministers of religion to refuse to solemnise a wedding for an LGBTIQ+ couple on the basis of a ‘conscientious belief’, regardless of the teachings of their church;

Oppose the introduction of exemptions that would allow civil celebrants the right to refuse to marry LGBTIQ+ couples on the basis of ‘conscientious belief’; and

Oppose the introduction of exemptions that would allow civil celebrants the right to refuse to marry LGBTIQ+ couples on the basis of religious beliefs.

DOWNLOAD DCA's full submission to the Senate Select Committee reviewing the Exposure Draft on the Marriage Amendment (same-sex marriage) Bill.  An accessible version will be available shortly.