Melbourne’s Pride March Attracts Thousands; Labor, Greens Say They Still Want Free Vote On Marriage Equality

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews also announced that a formal apology would be issued to gay men convicted of homosexuality crimes in May.

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Thousands have turned up to Melbourne’s Midsumma Pride March in St Kilda today to celebrate and support the state’s LGBTI community. This year marks the 21st march, but it was the first time ever that an AFL club officially participated — players from the St Kilda Football Club were among nearly 190 other organisations, including the Victoria Police, the Victorian State Emergency Service, the Premier of Victoria, City of Port Phillip, the Rainbow Families Council of Victoria, the Victorian AIDS Council and Team Melbourne.

Also in attendance were politicians from both the Greens and the Labor Party. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews was one of the event’s key speakers, and he condemned Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s marriage equality plebiscite — the results of which even Coalition MPs say they will ignore.

“I think Australians are getting pretty sick and tired of this notion that we’ll have a plebiscite and Australians will basically decide the matter, and I’ve seen some politicians in the Federal Government saying that, whilst at the same time other members of the Government are saying that won’t matter,” he said.

“Discrimination is wrong in any form, it’s not negotiable, and it’s not for any politician to tell people who they can marry, how they can express their love. It is not for any politician to tell anyone in our community their relationship is secondary or not as as much value as mine or theirs.”

Shorten went one step further, promising to legalise same-sex marriage if Labor wins the next election. “Within 100 days we will put legislation in the parliament for marriage equality and all MPs can vote according to their choice,” he said. “Labor will get the job done quickly.”

“People who are very anti-marriage equality are excited for the plebiscite: they don’t want to see a conscience vote in parliament. I’m confident if the new Malcolm Turnbull actually did what the old Malcolm Turnbull said, we could have marriage equality by the end of February in this country.”

Andrews also said the Victorian Government would issue a formal apology to gay men who were convicted of homosexuality crimes under the old laws in Parliament on May 24. Before 1980, acts of homosexuality were a punishable crime, and men could be jailed for up to 15 years.

“Sending the strongest message that we are sorry, that that was a dark chapter in our state’s history and that we are better than that,” he said. “The government last year moved to expunge criminal convictions for consensual sex and fraternisation. It was shameful that our laws prohibited and turned those activities into crimes.”

Many Greens MPs also attended, including leader Richard Di Natale and federal member for Melbourne Adam Bandt. Di Natale basically shook his head at Australia’s backwards marriage laws. “It’s a question of courage and leadership now to see whether, at a time, just like the republic, when we have the leaders of the three major political parties all supporting marriage equality… that we go to the Parliament and end discrimination,” he said.

Marching with Australian Marriage Equality & Equal Love at Pride March in Melbourne ?

Posted by Adam Bandt on Saturday, 30 January 2016