Greens NSW Gender and Sexual Identity Spokesperson, Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC, has welcomed the beginning of the debate on the Same Sex Marriage Bill 2013.

“Decades of work have come to this day where we have the privilege and honour of making a change that removes discrimination that denies same-sex loving couples the right to get married.

“Today, parliamentarians have come together across political party lines to strengthen and support a big step forward for equality in law and in society through the Cross Party Parliamentary Working Group on Marriage Equality and those who have worked with us to get this Bill here.

 “This bill has come out of a parliamentary inquiry that found that the state can legislate for same-sex marriage and would withstand a high court challenge from the Federal Government.

 It is therefore disappointing that the Premier Barry O’Farrell has decided not to support the right of same-sex loving couples to get married.

“The Greens have been the most consistent supporters of same-sex marriage, having launched the first bill in NSW for marriage equality eight years ago.

 “Same Sex Marriage is the first step to marriage equality. It is as far as a state government can constitutionally go. NSW adopting same-sex marriage would put pressure on the Federal Government to legislate for full marriage equality.

“Opinion polls consistently show that the overwhelming majority of Australians support same-sex marriage. Parliament cannot continue to stand in the way of the will of the people and human rights.

“Australia lags behind many countries and states around the world that have legalised same-sex marriage. It is time for NSW to get on the right side of history and end this pointless discrimination, she concluded.