Human right lawyers support NSW Law Society president over stand on same-sex marriage

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A group of human rights lawyers has rallied behind New South Wales Law Society President Pauline Wright, following criticisms levelled against her over the law society’s support for marriage equality.

Last month, Wright and her counterparts from the New South Wales Bar Association and the Australian Medical Association released a joint statement expressed support for same sex marriage legislation at the federal level.

Wright said denying couples of the same sex the choice to enter a civil marriage contravened the principle of equality before the law. "The Law Society of NSW is committed to ensuring that all Australians are equal before the law in rights and dignity, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Some legal professionals have called for her resignation since then. But Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) LGBTI Committee co-chair Nicholas Stewart said the critics do not speak for the “vast majority of lawyers and barristers who are committed to fundamental legal principles including equality before the law.”

“In making the joint statement, the NSW Law Society and Ms Wright were speaking on a matter that was resolved by motion at the Council level. Marriage equality is a fundamental aspect of realising legal equality, removing discrimination and improving human rights protections for LGBTI Australians. It is a vital step on the path to holistic LGBTI inclusion,” Stewart added.

From this month until early November, Australians have the opportunity to vote yes or no on whether the law should be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry. ALHR said it is against the “non-binding” postal opinion poll on marriage equality because ALHR considers that parliament, by virtue of representative democracy, is the forum for the debate, passing and ultimate assent of laws.

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