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Activists pressure Uni to publicly support marriage equality

A ‘Rainbow Wedding’ is being held to pressure the University’s position on Marriage Equality

A ‘Rainbow Wedding' is being held to pressure the University's position on Marriage Equality

Activists from the Rainbow Campus Campaign will stage a “Big Rainbow Wedding” for five queer couples on campus next week, in an attempt to persuade the University of Sydney to formally declare support for marriage equality.

Rainbow Campus organiser Oliver Moore said the University has refused to sign the Australian Marriage Equality pledge, one of the campaign’s six steps towards a more LGBTQIA-friendly campus. The other steps include allowing students to use their preferred names on all online learning materials, expanding access to gender neutral bathrooms, and ensuring a portion of SSAF funding goes towards supporting queer students.

By signing the pledge, the University of Sydney would join several other universities who have declared their formal support for the national marriage equality campaign, including Deakin, Monash, UTS, Curtin University, and the University of Western Australia.

The University dodged Honi’s question seeking its position on marriage equality, instead responding that it is “an equal opportunity employer and educator… [and] launched the Ally Network to support the inclusion of LGBTIQ members of our community.”

Moore said these efforts were “not enough for supporting LGBTQI students and staff. We would really love to see the University get behind its queer staff and students.”

The “Big Rainbow Wedding” will see five couples offered free make-up and photography before they are wedded by Reverend Karl Hand of Metropolitan Community. The ceremony will be attended by over 100 guests, and will be followed by a fully-catered reception in the Refectory on August 16.

“We have asked all the couples to write their own vows talking about how marriage equality is important to them, and those we have seen are heartbreakingly beautiful. It is such a tragedy they cannot do this for real,” Moore said.

Rainbow Campus activists delivered wedding invitations directly to the SRC, USU and University administration. The University has confirmed that Ally Network Chair Mark Smith will be in attendance, but did not specify whether other administrative staff including Vice Chancellor Michael Spence will join the growing guest list.

Moore said the University were “brushing off” the wedding “in the same way that the University has brushed off accepting marriage equality”.

“The University of Sydney is one of the few in the country to have a thriving gender studies department, and have the opportunity to make a real impact in supporting marriage equality Australia if they chose to do so.”