Jess Origliasso

The Veronicas’ singer and outspoken LGBTI advocate Jess Origliasso also spoke at the rally and took aim at the Prime Minister for his support of the plebiscite.

Large marriage equality rallies around the country pre-empted Saturday’s election.

Thousands of people took to the streets around Australia for one final rally for marriage equality before the Federal election.

Rallies were held in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane on Saturday 25 June, which coincided with the anniversary of the first Mardi Gras held in 1978.

The rallies were organised by the not-for-profit organisation Equal Love and called for an end to discrimination against LGBTI people and their relationships.

In this election, marriage equality has been a key campaign issue, with all of the major parties unveiling major LGBTI policies before the 2 July election.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he was confident the proposed plebiscite would occur before the end of the year, however, he confirmed Coalition MPs would not be bound by its results. Meanwhile, Labor leader Bill Shorten committed to legalising same-sex marriage within 100 days of being elected to government.

In Melbourne, the political focus of the rally was clear, with Greens leader Richard Di Natale, Labor MP Sophie Ismail, and Equality Party senate candidate Jason Tuazon McCheyne speaking at the event.

The Sydney rally at Town Hall was co-organised by Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) and saw several hundred protestors in attendance. A diverse range of speakers addressed the crowd, including 78er Peter Murphy, GetUp campaign director Sally Rugg, Greens candidate Jim Casey and Teachers Federation representative Mel Smith.

Jess Origliasso, The Veronicas“Prime Minister, you are still standing on the wrong side of history,” she said. “Every time you choose to make marriage equality a religious or political issue, you’re handing ammunition to the bigoted and homophobic.”

“Listen to the people here today, and listen to the majority of Australians asking for and demanding equal rights.”

Safe Schools founder and academic Roz Ward addressed protestors just weeks after being returned to her position at La Trobe University where she had earlier been sacked after a private Facebook post was leaked. She spoke about the importance of the Safe Schools program and the dangers of the plebiscite.

“Homophobia and transphobia are still very real in the country and around the world, and the bigots of this country have been given permission to crawl out of the hiding places,” Ward said, speaking over a counter-protest that had begun across the street.

                                                                                    Roz Ward

“What they do will have a profound negative impact, a real life impact, on all of us. We have to keep the pressure on for change. We cannot go back.”

The rally then marched from Town Hall to Oxford Street where protesters ended the event by chalking a large rainbow across Taylor Square.

Many of the crowd were already looking beyond the oncoming federal election and towards the next three years of politics and its impact on marriage equality.

One protestor told LOTL he expected the Coalition would be returned to government after 2 July.

“I’m not happy about it, but the writing is on the wall so we need to prepare for what comes next,” he said.

Currently, the future of Australia is in flux as the election results are too close to call. It is possible that the election will result in a hung Parliament, which some advocates warn will make it difficult for significant progress on marriage equality.

However, CAAH co-founder Cat Rose is optimistic after the response to the rally, saying it showed the LGBT community was ready to fight for marriage equality.

“This parliament has totally failed us, and has actually managed to turn the clock backwards by attacking the Safe Schools program,” Rose said.

“But with the energy, we saw at all the rallies across the country, we are in a good position to fight for our rights under whichever government we face next.”