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Australian Liberal MP Don Harwin Comes Out as Gay In Emotional Speech to Colleagues

In a speech to the New South Wales Legislative Council today, Australian Liberal MP Don Harwin has revealed that he is gay, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

Don harwinHarwin, the president of the upper house, came out in a Christmas message on the last sitting day of Parliament for the year.

In the emotional speech, Harwin said he rejoiced in the opportunities available to young gay and lesbian people today:

"Life is so different for them than it was for me. Much has been achieved since then, and perhaps my travails in less happy times gave me the determination I needed to pursue this role."

He added:

"It is remarkable how quickly public opinion has shifted and, indeed, our house has voted to support marriage equality in principle. I hope that my many friends who are waiting for the opportunity to marry will not have to wait too much longer for the Commonwealth Parliament to reform the law."

Following the speech, Harwin said he has been out to parents, friends, and work colleagues for almost 20 years. Harwin joins Labor's Penny Sharpe and Helen Westwood, Liberal Bruce Notley-Smith and independent Alex Greenwich as one of the few out politicians in New South Wales.

Last month, the New South Wales parliament passed new legislation that will allow people convicted under the country’s old laws criminalizing homosexuality to have their records expunged.


New South Wales Gay Couples' Marriages Performed Abroad Now Recognized

New south wales

Same-sex couples in New South Wales, Australia have a new option when it comes to marriage; they are now allowed to marry in other countries and have their marital status recognized by Australian state’s government (The New South Wales Registry of Births, Death and Marriages).

GreenwichNew South Wales Legislative Assembly member and marriage equality advocate Alex Greenwich (pictured) was instrumental in pushing this change through by introducing the Relationships Register Amendment, and rallying government support for it. Said Greenwich:

This change acknowledges that a growing number of NSW citizens must travel overseas to marry the person they love, while waiting for the Federal Government to legislate for marriage equality…The NSW Relationship Register will now ensure same-sex marriages conducted overseas will receive a level of protection and recognition in NSW, and I thank the Attorney-General for working with me towards this outcome.

Greenwich points to the Australian national government as the reason this legislation had to go through the New South Wales state government: “The inaction of federal governments, past and present, on marriage equality remains an embarrassing blight on our nation’s reputation for fairness, freedom and equality."


Sydney, Australia's State of New South Wales Could Pass a Same-Sex Marriage Bill Next Week

The parliament of New South Wales will debate a marriage equality bill next week, Sky News reports:

NswThe group consisting of Liberal, National, Greens, Labor and independent members say the bill follows community and legal consultation, including a parliamentary inquiry that found NSW has the constitutional power to legislate on marriage.

Labor MLC Penny Sharpe said she will introduce the bill next Thursday.

'The community and parliament can be confident we have done our due diligence to ensure we have the strongest bill possible; one that will allow loving and committed same-sex couples to marry in NSW and one that will withstand any high court challenge,' she said.

The Australian Capital Territory passed a same-sex marriage bill earlier this week that PM Tony Abbott's government said it plans to fight.

Meanwhile, the High Court says it will address the issue tomorrow:

A High Court of Australia spokesman has confirmed the first directions hearing for the federal government's constitutional challenge to the ACT's same-sex marriage law will take place on Friday at 2.15pm.

It comes as same-sex couples say they will defy advice from the Prime Minister to delay getting married in Canberra, until the High Court has tested the validity of the ACT's new marriage law.

The federal government formally launched its challenge to the ACT's same-sex marriage law in the High Court on Wednesday.


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