Two of Australia’s largest gay rights groups have launched a legal challenge against a government decision to allow same-sex couples to marry in the state of Victoria.
Key points:The Victorian government announced it would allow same sex couples to wed in the country’s first same-gender civil union billIn their legal challenge, the four gay rights organisations say the decision violates the right to equalityThe Australian Human Rights Commission has launched a review of the legislationKey pointsKey pointsThe decision comes on the back of strong opposition to same-day weddings in VictoriaThe decision follows a recommendation from the Victorian Human Rights Commissioner that same-date weddings should be bannedThe four gay groups have also asked the Commonwealth Ombudsman to conduct an independent review into the decisionThe Australian Legal Defence and Marriage Equality Association, the Australian Christian Lobby, the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network and the Family First Legal Centre have all lodged a legal claim against the Victorian Government over the government’s decision to introduce a bill to allow married same- gender couples to get married.
Key point:The move follows strong opposition from the gay community in the Victorian state to same day weddingsIn a statement the four groups said the decision was “in breach of the equality of rights guaranteed to all Australians”.
“The Commonwealth Ombudsperson’s recommendations were rejected and the Victorian government’s actions have been challenged by the four major Australian organisations representing the gay and lesbian community,” the statement said.
“The Victorian Government’s actions are also clearly unconstitutional.”
We have long advocated for a constitutional recognition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman, which we believe is the best outcome for all Australians, and which will allow same gender couples the same rights as opposite gender couples.
“The Victorian State Government’s decision was taken following recommendations from the Human Rights Division of the Australian Human Services Commission, which has said that the decision violated the right of same- sex couples in the Commonwealth to equal treatment.
The Victorian Human rights Commissioner, Tim Soutphommasane, has called on the Commonwealth ombudsman to investigate the government over the decision.”
I’m deeply concerned that the Victorian Parliament’s move is an affront to the fundamental human right to marry and has the potential to undermine the marriage equality legislation in Victoria,” Mr Soutphemasane said.”[The decision] would be detrimental to the integrity of the Commonwealth’s marriage equality program, and will be challenged in court.
“The four groups have previously warned the Victorian law was likely to fail in court, and that it was a significant step backwards for the country.”
While the Victorian State Parliament has taken a significant first step forward in advancing marriage equality, there is a long way to go,” the groups said in a statement.”
This decision will make it more difficult for couples to obtain the marriage recognition they deserve, and the Commonwealth should take immediate action to reverse this discriminatory decision.”‘
An act of racism’In a press release, the groups accused the government of “racial discrimination”.”
This is an act of discrimination, and one that is likely to be challenged on the basis of the Equality Act 1975,” the four said.
The groups have called for a review into a previous ruling from the Commonwealth Supreme Court, which held that the Commonwealth Act, 1961 did not require same- day marriages to be legal in Victoria.
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