How South Australia Led The Fight To Marriage Equality In Australia?

How did we reach the happy news of marriage equality?

Written by Bronte Price.

We are a state that boasts of marriage equality today! People from all around the world suggest us as an example for one of the best queer communities on the planet! Australia indeed is now a paradise for the LGBT community and equal rights. But was it the same as always? Not at all! 

You ask anybody and everybody, and they’ll have an array of things to suggest otherwise. In fact, every LGBT member you meet today has a story that could be an emotional bestseller. 

But where did it all start? 

I’d say it started somewhere in South Australia and ever since that day, the fight continued. Not just that, but the state also represented the community throughout the country. It led by example by introducing reforms and better laws for equality. But how did we reach the happy news of marriage equality?  

Here’s how South Australia led the fight to marriage equality in Australia:

1. It legalised same-sex sexual activity:

Ever wondered what ignited the heat for LGBT matters in Australia? Well, a tragic death story! Believe it or not, everything began as a consequence of an utterly shaming death incident. In the year 1972, Duncan died drowning in the river after meeting his gay partner at the banks of Torress. More because the demise of Duncan became a case of murder by a group that condemned same-sex activity. Reports say that both the men were first beaten up and then thrown into the river. And Duncan is a non-swimmer had ultimately died drowning. 

This murder case challenged the laws of homosexuality being illegal in the state. The matter worsened when the government couldn’t even identify and punish the culprits. It came to the point that the South Australian government had to reform its policies. As a result of which, it made every charge against homosexuality as an offence either null or void. It also made the age of consent for sexual intercourse, i.e. 17 years equal for everyone. So no matter straight or not, sexual activity became legal all over the region in 1975. And for the first time, the LGBT community felt represented in the continent at large. 

2. It fought for same-sex couples right to live together: 

Initially, same-sex couples were but just considered domestic partners in the state. They were not allowed to live together in a place. In the year 2006, South Australia made amendments in ‘The Statutes Act’ to oppose this. These amendments focused on including same-sex couples to live together lawfully. This law recognised same-sex partnerships by law. The bill first recognised LGBT rights in assets, stamp duty and property applications. And in 2017, it equalised treatment for same-sex couples in various matters. A few being inheritance, first home buyer’s grant, surveying and civil liability. Not just that, but it also included the right to court and governor’s pensions for an LGBT. 

3.  It recognised lesbian parenthood:

In 2010, South Australia proposed a law in favour of lesbian co-mothers.  The law focused on partially recognising these mothers and their children. A Greens member Tammy Jennings first passed this law and got royal assent later. South Australia led the importance of parental rights in Australia all by itself. As a result of success, the Government passed another amendment in the same act in 2015. This amendment further abolished the three-year relationship rule for parentage recognition. All of which, made LGBT parenting rights a win-win in this region.

4. It enabled registrations for a change in sex:

South Australia is also the first state to amend the registration bill. It is even the first to propose the right to choose your sexual orientation. This amendment helped individuals change their sex description in their certificates easily. It defied the law for undergoing sex reassignment surgery to improve your sex. The legislation introduced in 2016 made the whole process hassle-free. However, the initial plan of keeping the rights to a 16-year-old was later changed to 18 years. Anybody below the age of 18 is even now considered a minor incapable of taking that decision.

5. It established the right to adoption for same-sex couples:

Five years ago, adoption was a subject nobody bothered about in the LGBT community. More because marriage equality was yet to come! And yet South Australia bothered about the adoption rights. And to cater to it, it cited amendments in the existing Adoption Act. The Adoption (Review) Amendment Act in September 2016 is a result of it. The law brought light to the menace of inequality in adoption rights. Hence, it allowed same-sex adoption in South Australia. It also provided equal access to assisted reproductive treatment for same-sex couples. However, the law only came into effect in 2017 when the Governor of South Australia proclaimed it. 

6. It established equal opportunity for LGBT individuals:

Did you know? South Australia is one of the three states to promote equal measures locally. The reason why it was the first to cite amendments in the Equal Opportunity Act. But why? It did so to fight for anti-discrimination protections for intersex people. Hence, the law also focused on criminalising intersex medical interventions on children. In fact, it also targeted the end of legal sexual classifications. One of the measures included introducing a “non-binary” sex descriptor in identification documents.

South Australia fought against gender biases until equality became Australia’s standard of living. Hence, it not only fought for fundamental rights but also made marriage equality look normal. The reason why when marriage equality arrived, the stage was already set for it to rock!

Author Bio:

Australia’s Bronte Price is the first ever certified gay celebrant from the continent that now boasts of marriage equality. He is also the co-founder of an Equality Network that caters any LGBT wedding needs by creating a better experience through wedding suppliers. As a member of the GLOBE (Gay and Lesbian Organization for Business and Enterprise), he works tirelessly to empower the LGBT community. His website Gay Celebrant Melbourne is a stunning example of his dedication for celebrancy that unites the power of love. Apart from that, his fiancée Clint and their four-legged fur baby – Bingo are Bronte’s quintessential lifelines. He is also passionate for volunteering as a newsreader at Joy 94.9 and spending time in his organic backyards comes a close second.

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