“Gay, straight, black or white – marriage is a civil right.”
The sound of thousands of people rallying was impossible to ignore in Melbourne CBD this Saturday afternoon. They were gathered to tell President Turnbull they want him to legalise same-sex marriage – now. And for some, he is already running too late.
Friday night the LGBTIQ community lost an important person to cancer. Peter Bonsall-Boone, also known as Bon, died after a lifetime of fighting for homosexuals’ rights. He shared his life with his partner for 50 years, Peter de Waal, and together they were the first gay couple to kiss on Australian TV.
Today’s rally was clearly affected by Bon’s death, which was also the main topic in several of the speeches. Sally Rugg, director of GetUp!’s equal marriage campaign, dedicated her speech to the couple.
“Their wish beyond anything was to marry each other. All they wanted was to be seen as equal under the law. Australia failed them. Let me be clear: Peter and Bon could have married before Bon died.
“Malcolm Turnbull could allow marriage equality to pass as soon as tomorrow. And the injustice of Peter and Bon being denied their rights to the day of Bon’s death is squarely on his shoulders,” Rugg said in her speech.
The organisation Equal Love was behind the rally. Two of the volunteers, Ron Van Houwelingen and Antony McManus fear to end up waiting in vain like Peter and Bon.
“We are coming up to 30 years and I just can’t image waiting another 20 year to be valued in this country. It is heartbreaking,” McManus said.
“Most of our family has already passed away. So, they are not going to be at our wedding. These are people we would have liked to share our day with,” he said.
His partner, Ron Van Houwelingen fortifies:
“This is about the government stealing from us. Antony lost his parents, two sisters and a brother, while we have been fighting (for marriage equality).
“We will never get that opportunity back. It is not enough to say it will happen eventually. We need marriage equality now. Before it is too late,” Houweligen concludes.
In the budget of 2017, the Australian Government allocated $170 million to conduct a same-sex marriage plebiscite as soon as the Parliament passes the necessary law.