As the Australian government heads into the party room for an emergency meeting to debate how to move forward on marriage equality, more than 500 religious leaders have declared their support.
The leaders from various religions have sent an open letter Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his government supporting marriage equality.
The letter comes a day after conservative Senator Dean Smith’s draft Bill on the issue. His Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017 would allow religious organizations to refuse to marry same-sex couples.
The largest number of signatories came from the Uniting Church of Australia (22%), Anglicans (18%) and Catholics (13%). The leaders have signed alongside religious leaders from Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim and Hindu communities.
‘Marriage equality is a basic human right, Islam is a religion that promotes all human rights not some human rights,’ said Imam Nur Warsame of Marhaba.
‘It will help a lot of young people gain confidence because they are in an environment that says to them that they are wrong and impure, marriage equality will help a lot in the LGBT Muslim community gain confidence.’
Rabbi Shoshana Kaminsky of the Beit Shalom Synagogue in Adelaide signed the petition because she believes in equal rights.
‘I’ve signed this petition because I believe that all human beings are created in God’s image and so are entitled to the same legal rights,’ she said.
‘It is my privilege to know people in same-sex relationships whose commitment to one another is just as deep and lasting as those in heterosexual relationships.’
Commentators have claimed Australia might be closer to achieving marriage equality than ever before. But some are predicting the Liberal Party meeting will push for an already defeated plebiscite and if that fails a postal public vote.
The Equality Campaign’s executive director Tiernan Brady said marriage equality would not impact on faith or religious institutions.
‘These religious leaders support civil marriage equality because of their faith and values, not despite it,’ he said.
‘Their letter reflects the will of the majority of people of faith in Australia who want marriage equality to happen.’
Read the open letter here:
Dear Prime Minister,
We write to you as clergy, lay leaders, people of faith and LGBTI people of faith, from across the diversity of religions and faith communities in Australia.
We believe we are all equal (in the eyes of G-d)*, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status. We urge faith leaders to promote equality and inclusion for all people.
As people of faith, we understand that marriage is based on the values of love and commitment and we support civil marriage equality, not despite, but because of our faith and values.
We support a change to the legal definition of civil marriage to include LGBTI people’s relationships and families, a change that the majority of Australians support.
We urge people of faith to exercise their freedom of conscience to stand up for civil marriage equality as a matter of social justice.
We call on politicians to show leadership and unite to make civil marriage equality a reality for every Australian.
(*signatories from theistic faiths include this clause)