By Celebration chapel (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Celebration chapel (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Australian Senator Penny Wong blamed religious organizations as the reason why Australia is still not very receptive to gay rights.

Penny Wong, an Australian senator since 2002, has called for a greater push for separation of church and state in Australia. The senator says there is no reason marriages not blessed by a religious celebrant should not be considered official.

Speaking at the 2017 Frank Walker Memorial Lecture, the Labor party frontbencher lashed out at religious bodies trying to prevent people from wanting to live the life that they want. She mourned that even though a lot of Australians keep asking if they had reached the pinnacle of acceptance and freedom, the answer is still no. Wong insists as long as there is “homophobia,” “biphobia,” “transphobia,” a lack of respect for LGBT rights and so on, Australia can never see true progress.

The senator argued the existing marriage laws reflect the religious undercurrents that have shaped the concept of what a marriage union is. She pointed out that even to this day, the idea of marriage is only between man and woman. Wong said, “I, for one, am perfectly happy to accept the sacramentality of marriage. A marriage blessed by a member of the clergy is a wonderful thing for those who believe in the sacrament,” she said. “It is no less a wonderful thing for those whose marriage is celebrated by a civil celebrant, accepting the contractual nature of the affirmation ‘I do’.”

Condemning the rise in anti-LGBT feelings in Australia, Wong came down heavily on the Labor party’s opposition, which she claimed is working hard to suppress the rights of the gay community on grounds of religious beliefs. She observed that the root of the problem is that the church and religion are still being used to shape the secular laws of the country, which is why there is an increased need for the separation of the two. As long as religion guides political agendas, she said that there can be no hope for members of the queer community to be accepted as equals in modern Australian society.

For those who argue that opposing gay rights is part of their religious freedom, she warned that religious freedom does not allow people to persecute others and impose their laws on them.

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