Dissenting report by Coalition Senators on the Marriage Legislation Amendment Bill 2015

A private cross-party bill that aims to legalise same-sex marriage has been given the tick of approval by parliament's human rights committee but not by coalition members Michael Sukkar, David Gillespie and Matthew Canavan who say it infringes the rights of civil celebrants and children.

And now, according to Adam Bandt, anyone concerned for the rights of children, over the desires of adults are 'bigots scraping the bottom of the barrel.'

Dissenting report by Coalition Senators on the Marriage Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 (10 Nov 2015)
3.1 The Committee report makes a number of unsupported findings in regard to the Marriage Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 (the Bill). In particular it
finds that the Bill is compatible with, and in some cases promotes, the rights engaged by the relevant human rights treaties. Such conclusions are not merely unsupported by a
thorough understanding of the content of the international instruments and the judicial decisions made concerning them; they betray such a degree of ignorance of those instruments and decisions as to render the conclusions unreliable.
3.2 The Bill engages multiple human rights conventions and covenants, and raises serious concerns around breaches of fundamental human rights under applicable instruments. These include: the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief; the right to freedom of expression; the right to respect for the
family; and the rights of the child. The discussion in the report is based on a seriously deficient understanding of the concepts of equality and non-discrimination under the relevant instruments. While the report highlights that the Committee was divided on
some of the issues above, the analysis presented does not provide a balanced assessment of all sides of the debate.
Summary Non-Discrimination and Equality before the Law
3.3 The Committee makes the erroneous claim that the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) (the Marriage Act) is directly discriminatory on the basis that it defines marriage as between a man and a woman. It further claims that this direct discrimination will be removed by redefining marriage as a union between ’2 people’ (1.491-1495). This view is not supported in relevant international human rights law.
3.4 Article 23 of the ICCPR contains the right to traditional (man-woman) marriage, although the Covenant also contains Articles 2 and 26 which confer the right to non-discrimination and equality before the law. The Covenant cannot be internally contradictory; traditional marriage and non-discrimination are compatible.1
3.5 The claim that redefining marriage removes direct discrimination conflates identical treatment with non-discrimination and equality before the law. This is beyond the scope of Article 26 according to the Covenant’s travaux préparatoires2 and the UN Human Rights Committee’s own General Comment 18 on Article 26.3 Differentiation of treatment does not necessarily amount to discrimination.

1 Human Rights Committee, Decision Communication No. 902.1999, 75th sess, (Joselin et. al v New Zealand), 8.2-9.
2 Fifth session (1949), sixth session (1950), eighth session (1952), tenth session A/2929, Chap. VI, 179.
3 At paragraph 13.

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