Australia legalizes gay marriage without conscience protections
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 12/07/17, 11:14 am
The Australian Parliament in a Thursday vote legalized same-sex marriage across the nation. The move follows a government postal survey last month, in which 61.6 percent of voters supported the new legislation. The bill passed with only four lawmakers in opposition. It changes the definition of marriage to “a union of two people,” instead of a union between one man and one woman. Same-sex couples can start applying to marry Saturday, although the first weddings will not happen until January because of the country’s one-month notice requirement. The bill allows churches, religious organizations, and existing civil celebrants to refuse to officiate gay weddings. But lawmakers rejected amendments to protect freedom of speech and religion for businesses and individuals who support a Biblical definition of marriage. Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott decried Parliament’s failure to protect freedoms of speech, conscience, and religion in the bill. As examples of more conflicts to come, Abbott cited a teenager who lost her job after she posted criticism of same-sex marriage on social media and a Catholic bishop dragged before a state anti-discrimination tribunal for publishing a pamphlet that extolled Biblical marriage. “A promise was made by the leaders of this Parliament and the promise has not adequately been delivered on,” Abbott said.
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Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.