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We had a rare opportunity to end discrimination

Speeches in Parliament
Richard Di Natale 12 Aug 2015

I would love to be standing up here today debating the issue of discrimination in marriage and taking a stand with the great majority of the Australian community who wants to see an end to discrimination in marriage.

I wish we had a public gallery packed to celebrate  a rare moment of unity in this parliament to end discrimination once and for all. Instead we are here on the back of a decision by the Prime Minister who has once again failed to lead this country into the 21st century.

The spectacle yesterday was shameful. The Prime Minister, like a cornered alleycat, used every tactic in the book - he scratched, he fought, he stacked his party room with National Party MPs because he knew that he was going to get rolled on this issue.

He talks about it as a second order issue, one that doesn't warrant dominating the political discourse in this parliament and yet he says that it is worthy of a plebiscite.

Which is it Prime Minister, which is it?

We know that this is rare opportunity to end discrimination once and for all.

Think of the signal that the Prime Minister's actions send to the young people right around the country who are told: "You are different. the love that you have for another person is not the same as the love that other people share. You are not normal."

Is it any wonder that young people right across the country who are in a same sex relationship have a greater rate of self harm, a higher rate of depression, higher rates of suicide? It is because of the symbols, the messages, the language that this parliament has used in squashing a debate that should be about ending discrimination against two people regardless of their sex and regardless of their gender.

We have seen a prime minister who has failed to lead the nation into the 21st century. We saw a prime minister who was so desperate to use any tactic he could to stop this debate that he diminished his standing and the standing of this parliament.

When the history of this parliament is written, yesterday will be one of its darkest days. Here we had everything pushing us towards a decision that would have ended the discrimination that exists.

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