Australian academic institutions have an important role to play in promoting inclusion and tolerance. We support diversity in the higher education sector and recognise the rights of our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) students and employees to learn, live and work, free of prejudice and discrimination, with all the essential freedoms enjoyed by other members of our university community and the broader population. We believe the rights and liberties of all individuals are sacrosanct. They are essential in the creation of a healthy, harmonious and open society. An equitable society, free of discrimination, allows all members to function at their best. Legalised discrimination in one area allows discrimination to flourish in all areas.
Australia is a robust democracy with a proud history of social reform. We believe this should continue, with all citizens being treated equally, including those who are currently excluded from the institution of marriage.
Our own research points to the harms of marriage inequality. Australians are increasingly supportive of marriage equality, with a recent Crosby Textor survey showing seventy-two percent of Australians are in favour of same sex couples marrying. We believe this overwhelming level of support should be reflected with legal change.
Globally, over twenty countries have passed laws to allow same sex marriage, including countries that are culturally similar to ours like New Zealand, the United States of America, Canada, and Great Britain. These countries did so with lower support for marriage equality than Australia is seeing right now.
On 22 May 2015, the Republic of Ireland held a referendum to sanction same sex marriage. A Yes vote was supported by the Government, all major political parties and the voters themselves.
On 26 June 2015, the U.S. Supreme court returned a judgement in favour of legalising same sex marriage across all 50 states.
These two events see Australia isolated amongst countries with English as a first language.
Learning and academic achievement flourish when all members of the academic community have their dignity and equality recognised. Equal Marriage is the only truly fair way forward and it is important for creating a climate where knowledge, achievement and intellectual output can flourish.
Equality in places of higher learning is fair and just. Discrimination is not.
Centre for Social Research in Health; Social Policy Research Centre