Government MPs Dissent From Same-Sex Marriage Report

A dissenting report of the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee has found that a private member’s bill to legislate for same sex marriage fails to protect fundamental human rights.

The report found that the current Bill only exempts priests or ministers of religion from solemnising same sex marriage. Because the bill does not exempt celebrants, it fails to protect an individual’s human rights.

“Individuals have rights, not the Catholic Church or some other religion. The current proposed change to the marriage laws only exempts Ministers of organised religion, not an individual’s right to express their own beliefs,“ said Senator Matt Canavan, one of three parliamentarians who authored the dissenting report.

“Under human rights law, someone’s freedom of religion can only be restricted in limited cases to protect other rights. However, the case law is clear: there is no human right to same-sex marriage.   

Michael Sukkar, Liberal Member for Deakin in Victoria, said the report does not present a fair reflection of Australia’s proud reputation on its international human rights obligations.
“Many of the assertions made in the report pay little respect to the traditional and enduring understanding of Australia’s marriage laws,” Mr Sukkar said.
“The Coalition has committed to a plebiscite but we cannot out-source the protection of fundamental human rights to the ballot box. The right to freely practice religion must be protected as a fundamental building block of our free and open society.”  

Note: The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights reported on the proposed Marriage Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 in its 30th report of the 44th Parliament. A copy of the report is available here:   (The dissenting report on the Marriage Bill is at p. 151 of the report.)

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