High Court hearing in same-sex marriage postal vote challenge begins today

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September 5, 2017

PIAC CEO, Jonathon Hunyor outside the High Court.

The High Court of Australia, sitting in Melbourne, will today begin hearing challenges to the government’s postal vote on same-sex marriage. The hearing is expected to take two days.

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre and the Human Rights Law Centre are both seeking to stop the government proceeding with the postal vote on same-sex marriage. The two cases are being heard at the same time.

PIAC is representing Andrew Wilkie, Member for Denison, PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and Felicity Marlowe, a mother in a same-sex relationship with three young children.

The Human Rights Law Centre is bringing a case on behalf of Australian Marriage Equality and Janet Rice, a Victorian Greens Senator.

PIAC CEO, Jonathon Hunyor said that PIAC’s case is about the role of parliament in our democracy and the exercise of government power.

‘We think it’s parliament’s job to make big decisions about issues like marriage equality. We are asking the High Court to find that government can’t side-step parliament by funding a postal vote without authorisation,’ said Jonathon Hunyor.

‘We are also concerned that the government is undermining the integrity of the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Australian Electoral Commission by involving them in this process.

‘We will argue that the ABS can’t be used to run an exercise that isn’t in truth about statistics and the AEC can’t be used for a process that isn’t an election,’ said Jonathon Hunyor.

Felicity Marlowe said: ‘We have already seen a vicious public anti-marriage equality campaign start to spread gross misinformation about the wellbeing of young children like mine. That’s why I am standing here today at the High Court. To protect my children, and all children living in rainbow families or who are trans and gender diverse, from becoming collateral damage as part of this ridiculous postal plebiscite campaign.’

Shelley Argent, who is National Spokesperson for parents with LGBTIQ children said, ‘I felt that it was time to say “enough is enough” when the government decided to have a non-binding, non-compulsory postal survey to decide if our sons and daughters should have the right to marry.

‘As a parent, I believe this is the ultimate insult and it is not OK. The government needs to realise the survey will only create hurt and send a very negative message to our loved ones.’

Andrew Wilkie, Member for Denison, said that everyone, whatever their view on marriage equality, should be concerned when a government exceeds its powers.

‘Hopefully we’ll prevail in the High Court and then politicians can put an end to the political game playing, do their jobs and vote on marriage equality,’ he added.

The cases are being heard in the High Court in Melbourne on Tuesday 5 and Wednesday 6 of September at the Commonwealth Law Courts, 305 William Street, Melbourne.

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MEDIA CONTACT: PIAC Media and Communications Manager, Gemma Pearce: 0478 739 280.

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