Australia’s young people are among the largest groups in favour of legalising for marriage equality.
In perhaps the first forum of its kind, the YMCA NSW Youth Parliament has passed a motion calling on the Federal Government to legislate in favour of marriage equality with an overwhelming majority.
On the 3rd July 2012, the NSW Youth Parliament debated and passed a motion in relation to marriage equality after an open and honest debate on the issue.
The Youth Parliament is a forum for young people between 15 – 18 years of age set in the NSW legislative Assembly, creating an environment where ideas regarding important issues such as marriage equality could be shared and debated.
The motion – a National Matter of Public Importance – was to be debated in all of the state and territory Youth Parliament – with NSW being the first to debate the motion. Ultimately, the motion was passed with an overwhelming majority of 70-11.
The debate mirrored what we expect in a parliamentary debate on the issue. Jonty Katz, Youth Member for Coogee, opened noting his support for human rights and social justice, as well as his religious support for the issue due to his background as a Progressive Jew.
Theodora von Arnim, Youth Member for Vaucluse and the Leader of the House, told the story of two of her constituents who are being affected by their inability to be legally married and have their love recognised by the law.
Dempsey Bloom, Youth Member for Wollondilly in Sydney’s south-west, then described how this form of state-sanctioned discrimination affected him as a young gay man.
This isn’t to say, however, that there was no opposition to the motion, with one Youth Member noting his religious objection to marriage equality. A small-yet-sizeable number of conservative religious youth members joined him in opposition, but the emotional, heartfelt and rational side in favour of marriage equality ultimately won out with a sizeable majority – reinforcing the support for the issue from young people and putting greater pressure upon our Federal Parliamentarians to back the law reform.
It is my hope that this vote, and hopefully the affirmative votes of the Youth Parliaments around Australia, will be listened to by the “real” parliamentarians in Canberra. Until then, I have no doubt that this fight for equality for all people goes on.
Whatever the case, we can rest assured that we have a new breed of activists and allies willing to take up the fight for the rights of the oppressed, the marginalised and the discriminated against – the rights of LGBTI people like ourselves.