High Court hears challenge to the Australian Government’s divisive marriage equality postal plebiscite

High Court hears challenge to the Australian Government’s divisive marriage equality postal plebiscite


Who: Anna Brown, Director of Legal Advocacy, Human Rights Law Centre
Jonathon Hunyor, Chief Executive Officer, Public Interest Advocacy Centre
Alex Greenwich, Plaintiff and Co-Chair of Australian Marriage Equality
Felicity Marlowe, Plaintiff and Director of Rainbow Families Victoria
Date: Tuesday 5 September 2017
Time: 9:30am (AEST)
Location: High Court, Commonwealth Law Courts Building, 305 William Street, Melbourne, 305 William Street, Melbourne


The High Court of Australia will today hear the urgent challenge to the Australian Government’s postal plebiscite on marriage equality.

Anna Brown, Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Centre, representing Australian Marriage Equality and Senator Janet Rice, said the High Court would confirm whether the postal plebiscite on marriage equality is valid.

“Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people should be able to marry the person they love. The postal plebiscite is unnecessary and is already proving divisive and harmful. LGBTI groups strongly oppose the plebiscite and so do we.”

“Telling one group of people that their rights have to be decided by a public vote sends a terrible message. The High Court will provide an answer for the LGBTI community, their friends and families on whether the postal plebiscite will go ahead or not,” said Ms Brown.

Alex Greenwich, Co-Chair of Australian Marriage Equality, said this decision is important for the many supporters of marriage equality across the country.

"All we are asking the Government with this case is to do what Australians have been asking for and deliver marriage equality without delay. As a nation we are ready to move forward and celebrate treating everyone equally and fairly,” said Mr Greenwich.

Senator Janet Rice, a long-time advocate of marriage equality, said the postal plebiscite was an attempt by opponents of marriage equality to go behind the back of Australia’s elected representatives.

“I’m hopeful that this challenge to the Government’s postal plebiscite will be successful and that we can bring forward a free vote in parliament, as we should have had all along.”

“We’ve already seen how dishonest and disgraceful the ‘no’ campaign tactics have been in spreading untruths. This is exactly why we’re trying to knock this plebiscite off. John Howard didn’t need a plebiscite to change the Marriage Act in 2004. This postal plebiscite is unnecessary and harmful,” said Senator Rice.

The Human Rights Law Centre thanks our barrister team Katherine Richardson SC, James Emmett, Gerald Ng and Surya Palaniappan for their work, conducted on a pro bono basis, on this case.

The hearing is expected to take two days.

Read more about the HRLC challenge here.

For further information contact:

Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications, Human Rights Law Centre:  0419 100 519