Hundreds of Australian gay marriage supporters have registered a new party to run in the next federal election.
The Australian Equlity Party (AEP) was launched in February and has signed more than the 500 members required for recognition from the Australian Electoral Commission.
Party leader Jason Tuazon-McCheyne said, ‘What started as a discussion amongst a group of friends 12 months ago has snowballed into the creation of Australia’s newest political party.
‘We are excited to announce today that the AEP has been officially registered and we are now ready to take our place on the political stage.
‘This is the first step towards providing people of diverse sexuality and gender with our own independent voice in federal parliament.’
Tuazon-McCheyne will be AEP’s lead senate candidate in Victoria but the party intends to run candidates across the country. The federal election will be held in or before January 2017.
The party will celebrate its official registration at Midsumma/Pride March in February 2015 where it will also launch its comprehensive policy platform.
Tuazon-McCheyne said response had been ‘fantastic’ and the party’s 700 members and supporters were ‘gay and straight, left and right leaning, old and young, religious and atheist from the left and right of politics.’
He said, ‘We believe that it is no longer acceptable to just tolerate or accept difference; instead it’s time to affirm and celebrate diversity. The AEP embraces the wonderful diversity that is the Australian community.’
Tuazon-McCheyne and his partner first challenged the country’s marriage laws in 2004 after tying the knot in Canada. He lives in Melbourne with his husband, Adrian, and son, Ruben.
He said, ‘We believe we have tapped into a widespread desire to see care and compassion play a bigger part in political debate. Human rights must return to the centre of political discourse.
AEP will host its first fundraising event on 9 November in Melbourne’s Albert Park.