Marriage Equality

It is hard to watch the insensitivity of some of the hard right in Australia forcing us to interfere, once again, in the private lives of others who wish to opt for the now conservative choice of marrying a lifetime partner whom they love.

Have we not moved on to accept difference and choice in this country in areas of personal relationships?

When I was a very young solicitor in the early and mid 1960s I, at the request of a barrister who was a member of the Council for Civil Liberties, assisted to represent in Court a young man charged with the then illegal offence of having sex (in private) with another man.  I would have liked to think I was chosen for my legal skills but, in retrospect, I realised it was because I was a young female and the barrister involved, quite correctly, thought this might contribute to a more accepting attitude.

On the way to the court I had to take the gentleman charged to a jeweller to have his rings removed. Outside the court we met the young man’s father who had come to support his son and who carefully carried for him a very conservative coat and tie.

The thoughtful magistrate had little option but to record a criminal conviction against this quiet, law abiding client as his “partner in crime” had been given an ultimatum by the police that he would not be charged if he gave evidence about the offence.  (My client bore no grudge against his former lover saying, “What options did he have? He is only telling the truth after all.”)

Perhaps because of the voluntary work of the excellent barrister and the presence of a conservative and imposing, loving father and a young female solicitor sitting next to the accused, the magistrate, after finding the offence proved, imposed no custodial or financial penalties.

But this sad young man had to go through life as a convicted criminal. The other young man, made to give evidence, had to go through life with his guilt.

Despite the fact that homosexual relationships have now been decriminalised, some of these young people have had to carry with them a criminal record.

What people do in consenting sexual relationships is now none of our business under the criminal law. It also should not be any of our business if herosexual or homosexual couples marry or choose not to marry under our law.  All adults should have the same options.

And why on earth should we other citizens, not involved in the particular relationships, have any right to voice our opinions on a decision so personal?

Or should we go back to the dark ages, for example to those 1960s?



About Anne Powles

I am retired from paid employment. During my working life I have been variously and sometimes contemporaneously, wife, mother of four, lawyer, teacher and psychologist. I have also been a serial education junkie. As are we all, I have been an observer of the world around me. Here I have recorded some of my memories, observations and theorisings.
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