New South Wales (NSW) Legislative Council member the Reverend Fred Nile has claimed that gays and lesbians are mentally ill and says they should find their own term if they must formalize their relationships.
Nile made the claims in a submission to a NSW parliamentary inquiry into whether same-sex marriage could be legalized at a state level while the Australian federal parliament refused to act on the issue.
‘These [few] homosexual males or female lesbians [who are monogamous] should create another term to describe their relationship eg: “Homiage” or “Lesiage” but not use the sacred historical term “Marriage,” Nile wrote in his submission in which he claimed that gays had launched a conspiracy within the American Psychiatric Association to have them declared mentally well.
Nile also claimed that same-sex marriage would inevitably lead to ‘child brides, incestuous partners, bigamous or polygamous partners … and would be disastrous to the welfare of Australian society.’
Nile claimed there was ‘heavy pressure’ from within the Australian Muslim community to allow polygamous marriage with up to four wives.
Nile also claimed that having same-sex marriage at a state level would be unconstitutional.
However this view was not shared by the Law Society of NSW’s Human Rights Committee (HRC) who wrote that its view was that ‘the NSW Parliament has the power to legislate in relation to same sex marriage, and that a carefully drafted law allowing for same sex marriage could withstand Constitutional challenge.’
The NSW Society of Labor Lawyers, Australian Lawyers Association, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, Alliance and Women’s Legal Services NSW all supported reform at a state level and agreed it would be constitutional to do so.
The NSW Bar Association also agreed that as long as same-sex marriages were considered a legal entity separate from opposite same marriage they could survive legal challenge but did not express an opinion either way on whether such a reform should occur.
However a legal opinion sought by the NSW Department of Attorney General and Justice from David Jackson QC argued that any law to create state based same-sex marriages would be found ‘invalid,’ as did Christian legal group Lawyers for the Preservation of the Definition of Marriage.
The Australian Human Rights Commission said it supported same-sex marriage at a state level as a step towards national level reform but noted concern that the bill before the NSW Parliament could exclude those from marriage who were biologically neither male nor female.
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties also strongly supported reform on the issue.
The Australian Psychological Society used the inquiry to voice its support as did medical group Doctors for Marriage Equality and LGBT community health organization ACON.
Most but not all religious groups that participated in the inquiry opposed reform on the issue.
The Metropolitan Community Church strongly supported same-sex couples being allowed to marry in NSW as did the Paddington Uniting Church – while the Hindu Council of Australia was open to the idea of same-sex relationships being formally recognized but just not with the word "marriage."
Catholic groups were strongly opposed, with the Catholic Diocese of Wollongong, Sydney Catholic Archdiocese, John Paul II Institute for Marriage & Family and the Catholic Knights of the Southern Cross all writing to the inquiry to express their displeasure.
Conservative Jewish denominations were also opposed with the Institute for Judaism and Civilization and Rabbinical Council of NSW both writing to the inquiry to tell them to leave marriage alone.
The Salvation Army, Presbyterian Church and Anglican Diocese of Sydney all opposed any reform.
On the other hand, the Atheist Foundation of Australia strongly supported the reform, as did Engage Civil Celebrants and the Australian Federation of Civil Celebrants.
The NSW Parliament has published 1,257 submissions of the 7,500 plus it received to the inquiry on its website – the most for a single inquiry in the history of the Parliament – with many opponents of reform choosing the option of being anonymous.