Author Archives: Damien Stevens

MEDIA RELEASE | Uniting Church LGBTIQ Network welcomes same-sex marriage postal survey result – and urges the Uniting Church to change its marriage policy

The Uniting Church’s LGBTIQ Network has welcomed the result of the postal survey concerning same-sex marriage.

“It is very pleasing to see that more than 60% of Australians voted to support same-sex marriage”, stated Uniting Network national secretary Warren Talbot.

“Although unnecessary, the postal survey confirmed that a significant majority of Australians support marriage equality for LGBTIQ Australians. Marriage is about love and commitment, not the sex or gender identity of the two people involved.”

Mr Talbot said that the Parliament should proceed, before Christmas, to amend the Marriage Act.

“Proposals to introduce new forms of discrimination against LGBTIQ people are completely unacceptable. The draft Bill from Senator Dean Smith provides adequate protection for religious freedom, in addition to those already included in anti-discrimination legislation.”

Mr Talbot said that it was now time for the Uniting Church to amend its policy on marriage.

“It is a plain denial of the Gospel that all LGBTIQ people are systematically denied access to one of the church’s major rituals, namely marriage. This policy sends a message of exclusion and rejection to LGBTIQ communities and others.

“Our Uniting Church already accepts openly LGBTIQ clergy, including those in committed same-sex relationships.

“There is an opportunity, at the Assembly meeting in 2018, to change the church’s policy and give substance to our stated aim of being truly inclusive.”

Mr Talbot suggested that quite a number of Uniting Church clergy will want to celebrate same-sex marriages whether the Assembly changes its policy or not.

“It might be a case of local congregations taking the lead, witnessing to the love and grace of God as we risk following the Way of Jesus.”

Warren Talbot – Secretary
Uniting Network Australia

Uniting Network at Mardi Gras 2016

mg2016

(Photo by Andrew Hill)

On Saturday 5th March, Sydney’s Oxford Street was awash with rainbows and glitter and filled with music for the annual Mardi Gras parade. On one float, 70 people marched with ‘Uniting Network’ – the LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer) members in the Uniting Church and our friends, families, and supporters. Marchers met in Pitt Street Uniting Church beforehand with Uniting marchers to pray and heard from Steve Teulan (of Uniting Ageing) and Peter Worland (Uniting CEO). Then, the group made its way to Hyde Park. On the way, they were drumming (to demonstrate anger) and holding lanterns (as a symbol of light). This is because the theme of the float was more sombre than the typical Mardi Gras celebrations: “LGBTIQ Refugees Are Welcome Here.” The float was a protest directed towards the Australian government’s treatment of people fleeing persecution overseas because of their LGBTIQ status. There are currently numerous LGBTIQ people having their claims of asylum in Australia slowly processed; some are detained on Manus Island. You can find pictures from the night (taken by Andrew Hill) here and a photo montage here.

The parade followed a forum held at Pitt Street on 24th February with the theme ‘LGBTIQ Refugees: Australia Can Do More.’ Speakers included Gillian Triggs of the Human Rights Commission, Imam Nur Wasame of ‘Marhaba’ for LGBTIQ Muslims, and Che Bishop COO of Asylum Seekers Centre. The forum was well-attended by church members and community groups, and finished with new avenues for concerned people to take action together.

After a hectic, exciting, and humbling experience preparing for Mardi Gras, Uniting Network now looks forward to the national gathering in Melbourne in June: “Daring to Reach Out: Honouring Our Diversity.” More info below…