PDC: Marriage Act policy

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Draft Policy
This is a draft policy which may still be under development and is not approved or endorsed by the party.
Until such time as it is endorsed by the party, it does not represent the views or intentions of the party.

This Working Group (WG) was established by the Policy Development Committee (PDC) on 23 January 2013. The working group was tasked with developing policy to remove discrimination from the Marriage Act. It was chaired by Melanie Thomas and has prepared the following policy text for potential adoption by PPAU.

Platform amendment

The Marriage Act in current form denies same sex couples a human right which is taken for granted in mainstream, heterosexual society. The Marriage Amendment Act 2004 pushed this discrimination further by imposing a declaration, compulsorily recited at all weddings, that marriage in Australia is an exclusionary institution only to occur between a man and a woman.[2] This imposes religious principles into state ceremonies, undermining the separation of Church and Stateā€”a principle which lacks explicit protection in the Australian Constitution.[3] It also feeds existing stigmas related to homosexuality, which cause significant harm: discrimination against same-sex couples is known to cause alienation, anxiety and depression, and the rate for suicide attempts among LGBT is 2.5 times higher than that of the general population.[4] The repercussions place a large burden on our health system.[5]

As the modifications enacted in 2004 demonstrate[6], the Marriage Act is too easily used as a vehicle for political grandstanding, to the detriment of equality and civil liberties.[7] Protecting marriage is not a matter of excluding particular individuals: we should instead exclude the state, which has shown itself to be incapable of overseeing fair and proper marriage laws. We accordingly support returning marriage to the community and replacing the Marriage Act with a Civil Unions Act. This will offer equal treatment to same-sex couples, and help to ensure that all Australian citizens receive the same recognition and legal rights.

Policy text

The Pirate Party proposes an end to state control of marriage in Australia.

Replace the Marriage Act 1961 with a Civil Unions Act.

  • Couples in a union under the Civil Unions Act will be afforded the same rights available under the current Marriage Act.
  • Civil unions will be available to all consenting couples.
    • The legal age of consent for involvement in a Civil Union will be 18 years.
  • The Civil Unions Act will provide a state recognized union with equivalent legal and monetary benefits to those provided currently within the Marriage Act.
  • Couples in legally recognised unions from overseas will be recognised under this Act.
    • An exception will apply to forced marriages instituted overseas, which will be considered invalid.
  • The institution of marriage will be removed from the purview of state authority and instead overseen by secular and religious organisations who will have freedom to offer ceremonies in adherence with their own beliefs.
    • No legal basis will be provided for any attempt to force any organisation to provide marriage services where such an act would be at odds with organisational values.
    • No part of this policy may be used to override or contradict freedom of religion as granted by the Constitution of Australia.
  • Forced unions will be banned.

[1] Marriage Amendment Act 2004, Commonwealth of Australia, http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2004A01361 (accessed 9 March, 2013).

[2] Cannold, Australia's Fading Separation Between Church and State, 13 May 2011, http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2011/05/13/3216153.htm (Accessed 9 March, 2013).

[3] Australian Medical Students Association, Marriage Equality and Health, March 2012, http://media.amsa.org.au/policy/2012/201203_marriage_equity_and_health_policy.pdf (Accessed 9 March, 2013).

[4] MacNaughton, Healthcare Systems and Equality Rights, 2011, http://www.equalrightstrust.org/ertdocumentbank/ERR06_special_Gillian.pdf (Accessed 9 March, 2013).

[5] Marriage Amendment Act 2004, Commonwealth of Australia, http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2004A01361 (accessed 9 March, 2013).

[6] http://humanrights.gov.au/legal/submissions/marriage_leg.html

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