POLITICS

Sarah Hanson-Young Cries In Senate Speech On Marriage Equality

'Boy this parliament has come such a long way'.

27/11/2017 1:03 PM AEDT
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Senator Sarah Hanson-Young during her speech on marriage equality

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young has struggled to hold back tears while delivering a speech in support of marriage equality in the Senate, urging parliament to move swiftly in reforming "that awful law" in the wake of the postal survey result.

The Senate has devoted this entire week to debating the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017, which would allow same-sex couples to marry. Much of last week was also given over to the marriage bill, and Senators won't be allowed to leave this week until the legislation has passed and can go to the House of Representatives for further debate and final voting.

"If the consideration of the legislation hasn't been finalised by the end of Thursday, November 30, then we will continue to sit until it is finally dealt with," Senator Mathias Cormann told 7.30 following the postal survey result on November 15.

A long list of Senators will address the upper house on Monday, with 34 speakers scheduled in addition to the 17 who spoke last week on the legislation. One of those on Monday was Senator Hanson-Young, a long-time supporter of marriage equality, who spoke with great emotion about the long push for the reform from former Greens leader Bob Brown.

"When Bob retired in 2012 I said to him 'I'm really sorry we haven't been able to reverse that awful law before your time was up'," she said, fighting back tears.

"So today I stand here with my Greens colleagues finishing the job Bob Brown started. Boy, this parliament has come such a long way. Twenty bills have been introduced to reverse this awful law. Seven of them, embarrassingly so, in my name."

"Millions of Australians have fought for this reform to happen. Inquiries after inquiries, protesting on the street, meeting with members of parliament, lobbying in their workplaces and voting yes. It is now time for the Senate to do our job, to get this done. And without the muddying of the waters from those who have always been opposed to equal love," Hanson-Young said, a clear shot at marriage equality opponents looking to insert wide-ranging clauses allowing discrimination against same-sex couples and weddings, in the guise of 'religious freedoms'.

"But why is this so important? It's because discrimination to some demeans us all. Because equality is a symbol of a fair, caring and progressive society."

Hanson-Young celebrated after her speech with her Greens colleagues, as well as chair of Australian Marriage Equality, Alex Greenwich.

Later on Monday the list of those scheduled to speak includes marriage equality opponents Pauline Hanson and Eric Abetz as well as Attorney-General George Brandis.

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