A large crowd, estimated at over a thousand people, attended today’s Rally for Marriage Equality in Stirling Gardens in Central Perth before embarking on a march around the city’s central business district.
The crowd listened to speeches from a number of speakers including Lynn MacLaren MLC member for The Greens, Unionist Caroline Smith who is the Assistant Secretary of United Voice and David Goncalves President of Rainbow Labor WA. Comedian Hannah Gadsby delivered a speech that was a carefully balanced combination of comedy and activism.
Speaking to OUTinPerth before taking to the stage Gadsby explained why she thought it was important to speak up on this issue, ‘It’s important to keep the momentum up, keep it people’s minds and don’t let apathy set it.’
Once on stage Gadsby had the crowd laughing with barbs directed at former tennis champion Margaret Court and conservative politician Bob Katter. While Gadsby had the laughs coming thick and fast, the comedian also had moments of seriousness saying,
‘Australia needs to give same sex attracted people the choice to get married. The choice to enter this institution that is the most highly regarded and respected relationship, because with that choice – comes respect.’
Addressing the crowd Lynn McLaren MLC from The Greens highlighted US President Barrack Obama’s recent change of position on the topic of same sex marriage and called on Australia’s political leaders to allow their members to have a free vote on the issue in federal parliament,
‘All we’re asking for, and all we need now, to bring about marriage equality this year, is for the Liberal party and the Labor party to let a free vote, give a free vote, How hard is it to give a free vote in a democracy?’
Farida Iqbal, a member of the Equal Love organising committee drew on her experience as an anthropologist to knock down many of the arguments put forward by right wing Christian groups about the historical and cross cultural perspectives on marriage while. While David Goncalves, the President of the Western Australian branch of Rainbow Labor called on participants to talk to people who disagreed with the movement’s calls and convince them to change their minds on the topic.
Susie Day from the Cross Campus Queer Network (CCQN) highlighted her personal perspective as a both a queer activists and committed Christian. Drawing upon Harvey Milk’s call for gay people to come out, Day ask the crowd to share their stories and, ‘show those that would hate us that we are lovers… because an army of lovers cannot fail.’
In Melbourne the rally attracted a crowd estimated between three and four thousand people where comedians Magda Szubanski and Charlie Pickering spoke alongside Adam Bandt deputy leader of The Greens and Australian Marriage Equality spokesman Carl Katter. In Brisbane Nathan Hudson lead singer of rock band Faker was amongst the speakers while in Sydney comedians Claire Hooper and Tom Ballard addressed the crowd.
The next Equal love rally is planned for August.
Graeme Watson, Image: Claire Alexander