We can expect the debate around marriage equality to once again take centre stage, with Senator Leyonhjelm’s Marriage Equality Bill set to be introduced in Parliament in the next few months.
And clearly this is something that Australians want. A recent poll by Crosby/ Textor has shown that 72 percent of Australians now support marriage equality. This the highest level of support for marriage equality ever recorded and it also represents a rapid upwards trend.
Support for marriage equality is also not limited to any particular demographic, age or religious group. Of Australians who identified with a major religion – including Catholic, Anglican and non-Christian religions – a majority said they were in favour of same-sex marriage.
Many business owners have been reluctant to weigh into the debate around social issues, preferring instead to remain publicly neutral to avoid criticism from customers and stakeholders. However, a shift is now taking place in Australia where business leaders are taking a more vocal and public stance on the issue of same-sex marriage, for both economic and social reasons.
As it stands now, a portion of Australian adults are being discriminated against purely on the basis of whom they love. By denying same-sex couples the right to get married, as The Marriage Act does, it sends a message that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is acceptable.
This has a profound impact on the health and wellbeing of same-sex attracted people and their families. Research has shown that there is a direct link between legal bans on same-sex marriage and higher levels of stress and anxiety, lower self-esteem and great incidence of mental and physical health problems among same-sex attracted people.
In the workplace, this can result in absenteeism, lower productivity and higher incidences of staff turnover. All well as causing undue harm to employees, this also leads to higher costs for businesses.
Although allowing same-sex marriage will not remove all discrimination and unequal treatment against LGBTQI individuals, it will be an important step in this direction.
A number of businesses operating in Australia have already publicly stated that they support marriage equality. By announcing that the business leaders in the community support marriage equality, it sends a strong message to the major parties that there is desire for legislative reform based on social justice and equality for all.
The Partners of DDCS Lawyers believe that every Australian has the right to marry, no matter their gender preference. We encourage all business owners to voice their support for this issue in order to stand up for the rights of their employees and customers.
Julie Dobinson, is a Partner of the firm.
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