CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A gay lawmaker on Thursday started the Australian Parliament’s debate on legal recognition for same-sex marriage with an emotion speech in which he warned against winding back LGBT rights.
Dean Smith, a senator with the ruling conservative Liberal Party, has introduced a bill that would limit who could legally refuse to take part in same-sex marriage to churches, religious ministers and a new class of religious celebrants.
But many same-sex marriage opponents want amendments to broaden the range of businesses and individuals who can legally refuse to provide services such as cakes, flowers or a venue to same-sex couples and new free-speech protections for those who denounce gay marriage. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is illegal in Australia outside religious institutions.
“Let me be clear: Amendments that seek to address other issues, or which seek to deny gay and lesbian Australians the full rights, responsibilities and privileges that they already have will be strenuously opposed,” Smith told the Senate.
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