Same-sex marriage debatea ‘hurtful’ violation of rights

Tayler NealeAlbany Advertiser

An Albany woman has shared her frustration and disappointment with the marriage equality debate that has engulfed Australia in the lead-up to a postal plebiscite on same-sex marriage next month.

Sarah Schouten is legally married to her partner in Canada and the Netherlands and now lives in Albany.

Ms Schouten said the pair made the decision to get married in 2014 in Canada because it afforded them more rights and freedoms.

“I find myself once again bombarded by people from every side and walk of life, debating whether I can have the right to marry who I love,” she said.

“This is crazy because I am married, but my marriage is not recognised here so I do not hold the same legal rights as a heterosexual married person. I need to tell people how hurtful this whole debate is.

“How upsetting it is to watch and read about the supporters and the opposition argue for my personal right to choose whether I want my relationship to be formally recognised and to be able to access the legal freedoms that come with it.”

Ms Schouten is a member of the Albany Gay and Lesbian group, which will host an event called Equalitea at Kate’s Place from 2pm until 4pm on Sunday to help people with electoral enrolment and making contact with local MPs.

Claims from opponents to same-sex marriage that children of same-sex parents are more prone to abuse and neglect are upsetting and false, according to Ms Schouten.

“I don’t think I can even begin to describe how hurtful that is to me — this is one of the worst insults that I could be given,” she said.

“In actuality, a recent study from the Australian Government’s key research body in the area of family wellbeing suggests that children of same-sex families are developing well, if not better than their heterosexual peers.”

Ms Schouten believes the postal vote is unnecessary.

“Two key elements of our democratic government are to ‘protect the human rights of all citizens’, and to ‘uphold a rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens’,” she said. “We all deserve the same human rights, and to be treated equally by law and procedure.

“The postal plebiscite violates a fundamental principal in any liberal democracy: we should not be putting the question of discrimination of human rights to an opinion poll.”

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