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Australian state Youth Parliament backs marriage equality

The Youth Parliament of the Australian state of New South Wales has voted overwhelmingly to support the rights of same-sex couples
Nationals MP John Barilaro
Photo by Office of John Barilaro

Advocates for marriage equality in Australia have welcomed the overwhelming approval of same-sex marriage by the New South Wales (NSW) state Youth Parliament – an initiative organized by the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) of NSW.

The Youth Parliament passed its non-legally binding Marriage Equality Bill unanimously in its lower house in a vote of 79 to zero, and the upper house voted 40 to 4 to approve the measure which also supported the recognition of overseas same-sex marriages in Australia.

Debate on the bill became so emotional that several people left the chamber in tears after one speaker spoke of his experience of being bashed after coming out as gay.

‘I’ve never sat through a debate that was so emotional, that was so personal, said John Barilaro, the NSW National Party MP who acted as Speaker for the Bill in the Lower House.

‘That debate is genuinely what we need to get back to if we want to change policy and debate in this country.’

Barilaro said he would discuss the result of the bill with his colleagues.

Following the vote Youth Parliament members sang the Australian national anthem ‘Advance Australia Fair,’ and cornered Barilaro in a group hug.

Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome said the vote showed how widespread support on the issue was among young voters.

‘Overwhelming support for marriage equality from the NSW Youth Parliament shows how strongly young Australians are behind this reform,’ Croome said.

It is a reminder to federal election candidates that supporting marriage equality is one of the most effective ways they can reach out to young voters.’

‘The NSW Youth Parliament’s support for a state Marriage Equality Act is also a reminder that state legislation is the way forward for marriage equality should the federal parliament continue to ignore the wishes of a majority of Australians by blocking this reform.’

There have been several attempts to legalize same-sex marriage in Australia at a state or territory level including in Tasmania and South Australia.

As part of the YMCA NSW Youth Parliament, all completed bills and reports will be tabled in State Parliament for policy consideration.

A poll conducted last year by the Galaxy Research company found 80% of Australians aged 18 to 24 supported reform on the issue.

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