The Blue Mountains LGBTI community and supporters will come together in celebration tonight [Wednesday] after this morning’s announcement that the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey has delivered a clear “yes” result.
At 10am, Australian statistician David W. Kalisch from the Australian Bureau of Statistics announced that 61.6 per cent of respondents in the survey had voted “yes” to the question: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”.
Locally, the result was also a “yes”, with 63.9 per cent of participants choosing “yes” in the federal electorate of Macquarie, higher than the national result.
Local LGBTI community group Pink Mountains has organised an event at the Alexandra Hotel in Leura from 6pm tonight [November 15] as a focal point for Blue Mountains “yes” revellers.
“The LGBTI community - and everyone who voted ‘yes’ - has a reason to celebrate tonight,” said Katoomba resident and Pink Mountains committee member Peter Hackney.
“There’ll be parties happening around Australia and we wanted to make sure there was something happening locally too.
“We’re inviting all LGBTI people and all ‘yes’ voters to join us for a night of belonging, celebration, solidarity - and most of all, fun,” he said.
Wentworth Falls resident and Pink Mountains committee member Jan Forrester said it was gratifying to see gay and lesbian rights change within her lifetime, to the point where the majority of Australians want same-sex marriage legalised.
“I participated in the first Sydney Mardi Gras march in 1978, and at that time, not only was homosexuality illegal, but the cops at Kings Cross were bashing us up,” said Ms Forrester.
“There’s been a sea change in the average Australians’ understanding and acceptance of homosexuality, which has been incredible to witness,” she said.
“Tonight we’re going to celebrate our resilience, our achievements and our incredible community spirit.”
Lawson resident and Pink Mountains co-convenor Kevin Hardwick said tonight’s celebration would be a welcome departure from a difficult period for the LGBTI community.
Mr Hardwick, who has been with his long-term same-sex partner for almost five decades, said the postal survey had made gay couples feel scrutinised and judged.
“We’ve been together for 47 years. We’ve loved each other and contributed to the community as a couple all that time - longer than most heterosexual couples. So to have the government hold a survey on whether our relationship is equal was very upsetting,” he said.
“The whole thing was a waste of money and caused some terrible divisions - but we’re relieved that it’s over and we’ll be celebrating tonight.”
Katoomba marriage equality advocate Malcolm McPherson made a special point of thanking the LGBTI community’s allies for helping deliver the “yes” result.
“This outcome is the result of many years’ work not only from our community members but our friends and supporters,” said Mr McPherson, who is a NSW co-convenor of Australian Marriage Equality (AME).
“It demonstrates that Australians are fair-minded people who are not easily swayed by fear.
“On behalf of AME, I’d like to thank the Blue Mountains community for its support and the role it played in achieving this result.”
Mr McPherson said it was now time for that support to be consolidated and for marriage equality to be delivered in a fair and timely manner.
Federal Member for Macquarie, Susan Templeman, also welcomed the result.
“This survey confirmed what we already knew –– that residents of the Hawkesbury and the Blue Mountains believe that the LGBTIQ+ members of our community should be treated equally, and that the right to marry the person you love should be extended to all,” Ms Templeman said.
“This is a win for our local LGBTIQ+ community, and especially for our LGBTIQ+ young people who have been particularly vulnerable during this debate.”
Blue Mountains mayor Mark Greenhill said: "An overwhelming number of our friends and neighbours in the Blue Mountains voted yes… This is a proud moment for our country. Now it is time for the government to get on with it and make marriage equality law."
Last month, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that if the survey returned a “yes” result, a private members bill legislating for marriage equality would be passed before Christmas.
Tonight’s celebration at the Alexandra Hotel will commence at 6pm and continue till late, and is expected to draw revellers from across the Blue Mountains. The venue has put on extra staff to cater for the event, which will feature a musical playlist of gay and lesbian, and Australian anthems.
For more information, visit the Blue Mountains Celebrates Yes Facebook event page.