Jay Weatherill, the Premier of South Australia yesterday stood up in the South Australia Parliament in Adelaide and made a public apology to LGBTI people for the discriminatory way in which they have been treated by the state in the past.
Weatherill had announced last week that he planned to make the apology during a legislative session when the Upper House debates four key pieces of legislation that could boost equal rights for LGBT people in the region.
The Parliament’s public gallery was packed with LGBTI people, and many more watched online.
In the full, 11-minute address, Weatherill said:
‘The legislation we enact also implicitly reflects South Australia’s identity, values and aspirations.
‘The ultimate purpose of these laws should be not just to ensure the smooth running of the state’s affairs but to improve people’s lives and to give them the capability to fulfill their potential. This, of course, must apply to all citizens.’
He went on to refer to the specific legislation currently under discussion, which advocated are hopeful will be passed after successfully passing through the Lower House last month.
One of acts under discussion will include the recognition of same-sex marriages conducted abroad.
Earlier this year, British man, Marco Bulmer-Rizzi, was left ‘devastated’ by the death of his husband, David, whilst the two were on honeymoon in Adelaide.
His grief was compounded by the fact that the state of South Australia did not recognize their relationship and officials put on David’s death certificate that he had ‘never married’.
Weatherill specifically referred to the case in his speech.
‘David’s marriage to Marco was not recorded on his death certificate because South Australian law did not recognize their marriage. This case highlighted the need for a relationships register, and it brought home to the general public the implications of discriminatory language in legislation and administrative procedures.’
In concluding, he said, ‘, I spoke to a gay man earlier today and asked him what he felt this apology meant to him. He told me that he grew up in a time when homosexuality was unlawful. When he was growing up he could not see a future for himself, and that hurt him.
‘So, to him, and in particular to the young people who are here today—I especially want to address the young people who are not only in the chamber but perhaps listening to this or may find out about these remarks—I want you to know that who you are is okay and that you are a welcome part of the broader South Australian community.
Today, as Premier and as a member of parliament, I formally say sorry to all of you who have suffered injustices and indignities simply because of who you are.’
Watch the full speech below: