11 November 2015

Redefining marriage will lead to breaches of Australia’s international human rights obligations to protect freedom of conscience, thought, religion and belief and the rights of children to know and be raised by their parents.

These findings were made by three federal parliamentarians who yesterday issued a dissenting report of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights into North Queensland Liberal MP Warren Entsch’s bill to legalise same-sex marriage.

Liberal Michael Sukkar and Nationals David Gillespie and Matthew Canavan provide detailed and compelling evidence (see page 150ff) that the relevant United Nations and European Union conventions provide no right to same-sex marriage.

Australian Christian Lobby Managing Director Lyle Shelton said the dissenting report articulates long-held concerns of the Christian constituency about changing the definition of marriage.

“The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) defines marriage as between men and women and this definition has been upheld in UN litigation which found that this definition is not discriminatory against same-sex couples,” Mr Shelton said.

“It is very clear that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child protects children’s rights to know and be raised by their mother and father, wherever possible, something made impossible where same-sex couples might seek to exercise the marriage-bestowed right to found and form a family.

“The ICCPR also protects freedom of conscience, thought, religion and belief for all people, not just ministers of religion. It is a right that is carried in our person as individuals, not only those few who are formally connected with a religious denomination.”

The MPs also document how discrimination against same-sex couples has been long-removed in Australian law.

Despite the Turnbull Government’s promise to hold a peoples’ vote on same-sex marriage after the next election, the Greens were set to use yet more parliamentary time on the issue by introducing yet another same-sex marriage bill into the Senate tomorrow.

Mr Shelton said the latest bill from the Greens, like Mr Entsch’s bill, ignored the human rights of wedding service providers, civil celebrants and the rights of children to know and be raised by their biological parents wherever possible.

“Changing the definition of marriage has enormous consequences for human rights. Given that it will take away so many basic freedoms, it is appropriate that the people decide the issue in plebiscite.

“It is inappropriate for the Greens to be again using parliamentary time on same-sex marriage when a pathway to resolve the issue has been laid out by the Turnbull Government.”

Mr Shelton thanked the three parliamentarians for putting the UN and European human rights evidence on the table.

“The Greens should stop calling people ‘bigots’ and actually engage with the evidence that has been presented,” Mr Shelton said.