Australia has taken a monumental leap forward in the long march to marriage equality. When asked whether the relationships of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender, intersex, and queer [LGBTIQ] Australians should be considered equal under the law, Australians have sent a clear and resounding message—Yes! When asked whether our LGBTIQ brothers and sisters should be afforded the same rights and dignity as other Australians, we have sent a clear and resounding message—Yes! In the recent postal survey, 61.6 per cent of eligible Australians voted for marriage equality. Every State and Territory recorded a strong yes vote. While there will be much analysis and soul-searching about the results—who voted yes or no and what steps should be taken next—it is important to take a moment to reflect on what this victory means, not only for the LGBTIQ community but for all Australians.
There are few days on which we see history being made, and the day of the first Mardi Gras parade in 1978 was one of them, as was the day on which this Parliament made the historic apology to those who took part in the parade. The day on which homosexuality was decriminalised in New South Wales—22 May 1984—was another such day, as was 24 November 2014, when this House extinguished historical convictions against homosexuals. On 9 September 2010, this Parliament voted to allow same-sex couples to adopt children, and that decision has transformed the lives of countless kids.
Of course, 15 November 2017 will be remembered as a day of joy, celebration and vindication. It is the day on which our country finally acknowledged the inherent value of LGBTIQ relationships. There will be many more historic days: the day the Federal Parliament finally does its job and makes love law; the day wedding bells begin to ring out across our city and our State; and then the day we acknowledge the rights of transgender and gender-diverse citizens by changing our laws to remove obstacles to their living in their chosen gender.
The journey to equality for our LGBTIQ community has been long and winding. However, the one constant has been the positivity and passion of advocates and activists. There can be no doubt that this is a victory for the LGBTIQ activists and community groups that have fought in support of the yes campaign, but it is also a victory for us all. Thanks to the tireless work of our LGBTIQ brothers and sisters, this is a fairer country than it was yesterday. This postal survey made surprising activists out of many of us. I was heartened and inspired by the many rainbow flags I saw flying across my inner west electorate. Footpaths sprouted rainbow chalk drawings; neighbours reached out to neighbours; grandparents stood up proudly for their LGBTIQ grandsons and granddaughters; and families marched together down George Street or handed out flyers together at shopping centres. There was an outpouring of support, sometimes from surprising quarters.
Of course, we cannot ignore the fact that this was a debate we should never have had. The Federal Parliament could have, and should have, dealt with this issue months or years ago. Instead, we spent $122 million on a postal survey that caused unnecessary division and degraded the LGBTIQ community. The debate undoubtedly unleashed some of the worst homophobia we have seen in modern times. There were posters linking same-sex parenting with promoting homosexuality, and the internet and other media was filled to the brim with messaging from the no campaign that was misleading, offensive and wrong.
Homes and murals in my electorate and in neighbouring areas were defaced with graffiti. One constituent in Dulwich Hill had worked with their neighbours to paint a "Yes" sign on their fence in support of LGBTIQ rights. The fence was defaced not once, not twice, but three times, and the last time palings were ripped out. However, each time the fence was defaced, my constituents repainted their message of love and positivity. To everyone who met that negativity with love, yesterday was their day and this is their victory.
Yesterday was a day of celebration, and today is the day for legislation. I am pleased that the Senate has begun debating enabling legislation. Along with every other progressive member of Parliament across this country, I will be working to hold the Prime Minister to his promise of getting this done by Christmas. There can be no further delay. Australians have spoken and our Commonwealth Parliament must act to make marriage equality law.
I take this opportunity to thank some of the campaigners who fought tirelessly for a yes vote and I congratulate everyone involved in the yes campaign. I particularly acknowledge Tim Gartrell, Paddy Batchelor, Georgia Kriz and the wonderful members of my staff Audrey Marsh, Zack Solomon, and Joseph Scales. I thank the union movement for swinging behind the campaign and making it clear that equality was also union business.
I thank and acknowledge the leadership of Tiernen Brady and all those at Australian Marriage Equality, who campaigned with truth, positivity and passion. I pay special tribute to the Hon. Penny Sharpe, who at every turn has campaigned for equality and fairness. She continues to inspire young activists and advance the rights of LGBTIQ people in this State at every turn. I also acknowledge the leadership and resolve of the New South Wales Parliamentary LGBTI Cross Party Working Group.
I also acknowledge the work of local community groups in my electorate: Rainbow Families, led by Mat Howard and Vanessa Gonzales, who countered misleading arguments about same-sex parenting and gave families a safe place and a voice; Summer Hill's Rainbow Crossing, who have carved a space for LGBTIQ acceptance right in the heart of Summer Hill; the Gender Centre in Newtown; ACON; the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, and the Inner West Council's LGBTIQ Working Group. The Newtown Neighbourhood Centre is a beacon for equality and hosted a wonderful celebration in the heart of Newtown last night along with the Inner West Council, led by Mayor Darcy Byrne.
It bears special mention that the Inner West Council has shown incredible leadership on the issue of marriage equality. It is acknowledging the historical discrimination against the LGBTIQ community by opening up council venues free for same-sex weddings for the first 100 days after marriage equality becomes law. It is establishing the Inner West Pride Centre, giving the LGBTIQ community a place to gather, celebrate and organise. The council is also updating forms and policies to better reflect the diversity of our community. These are powerful and progressive policies that will have a real impact on the lives of my LGBTIQ constituents and those living in the Inner West.
Finally, I and all members of this House want to especially acknowledge the leadership and passion of the member for Sydney, who has led this campaign with grace and determination. He has inspired the LGBTIQ community to stand firm in the face of incredible opposition and has always led with positivity and purpose. I am certain that the member of Sydney has much to celebrate today, but I know that yesterday's victory also has a personal dimension—he and Vic are no doubt pretty excited about what this victory means. Even though we are not all the way there yet, it is surer than ever that Australia is on the right side of history and that love and equality will win out.