Young Leader Larz Gerrand Weighs In on the Significance of the Marriage Equality Vote in Australia
This week, Australians made their voices heard in support of marriage equality through a historic survey. 12.7 million Australians participated in the vote and a resounding 61.7 percent voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. Though not binding, the vote is an important step forward for the rights of gay and lesbian couples in Australia.
In a recent interview, Women Deliver Young Leader and Australian activist Larz Gerrand shared their views on how the current legislation prohibiting same-sex marriage impacts a young person’s life decisions as well as the significance of this moment for LGBTQ rights.
Q: How do you feel about the results of the vote to amend Australia's Marriage Act?
I feel very excited about the outcome of the vote. However, I also feel that the LGBTQ community shouldn’t have to have been subjected to such a damaging [opposition] campaign to get to this point. The vote is also not binding, so we are reliant on the government to use the results to vote for equal marriage.
When that happens, I will expect even greater celebrations!
[The vote] also had a big impact because my wife and I just had a baby, and for her to grow up with our marriage legally recognized is something I wasn’t sure would actually happen!
Q: As a young person considering marriage, how did the legality of gay marriage in your home country have an impact on your decision?
I first got married to my partner (who is American), our marriage wasn’t recognized in either of our countries. We chose to get legally married in California in 2013 and, after the decision in 2015, now have our marriage recognized nationally in the United States.
Sometimes, I think that [the failure to recognize same-sex] marriage here in Australia makes me feel like I am not really married, because we can never tick a box to say we are married. And when people ask, they ask if we are legally married or if we have just had a commitment ceremony as though our marriage isn’t good enough.
Q: What would marriage equality mean for young Australians in future years?
Marriage equality would mean that young Australians can grow up in a world where their love is seen not only as acceptable but celebrated. It also means that hopefully there will be a pathway for young people to [build on] the fight for marriage equality to advocate for other LGBTQ issues.
Larz Gerrand has more than 8 years of experience working to support young people’s health and rights. Larz is currently a Community Facilitator at the CREATE Foundation, and is completing a Bachelor of Public Health and Health Promotion at Deakin University.
In 2016, Larz received a Women Deliver seed grant to develop and implement a program in Melbourne, Australia to increase young people’s knowledge and advocacy awareness relating to a range of sexual and reproductive health issues in Australia. The SPEAK project was highly successful overall and achieved the project goals, although with a few adjustments to ensure success.