When is marriage equality not marriage equality?

I support marriage equality and acknowledge the great work done by Australian Marriage Equality (AME) over the years. I am disappointed however, that they are now pushing legislation in NSW and Tasmania that will exclude some intersex and trans people from marriage. This clearly is not “marriage equality” which is why I am calling on AME to either support amended Bills that are inclusive of all GLBTI people or change their organisation’s name. Equality is equality. We are a community and should not leave anyone behind.

The ACT Legislative Assembly is set to adopt legislation this week that will introduce true marriage equality.  This is the kind of legislation we need to push.

My wife and I were married in New Zealand three weeks ago where true marriage equality exists. My sex did not matter for the purpose of marriage because in New Zealand marriage is about a commitment made by two people irrespective of sex. As an intersex person who is open about being born biologically both male and female, this is very important.  The current marriage laws in Australia only allow marriage to be between a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others. This means people like me are unable to marry anyone unless we deny our true biological selves and pretend to be one sex and in a heterosexual relationship.

Just as Civil Unions were rejected by the GLBTI community because they would not have provide legal equality to same sex relationships, we should not go down the path of state based laws that exclude sections of our community. Let’s work as a cohesive community to ensure we are all equal and that we can all marry irrespective of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status. Nothing more, nothing less.

With about 64% of the Australian public supporting marriage equality, and countries like the UK, Spain, France, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and others already introducing marriage equality, this is not too much to ask.

As my wife tweeted yesterday, supporting the current NSW and Tasmanian Bills in their current form are reminiscent of George Orwell’s quote from “Animal Farm” – ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.

I look forward to working with AME to achieve true marriage equality in Australia.

Cr Tony Briffa JP
Vice-President, Organisation Intersex International Australia Ltd
Vice-President, AIS Support Group Australia Inc

For more information about my wedding in New Zealand – www.briffa.org/wedding-news

Here are some newspaper articles about our wedding:



Alex Greenwich

Cr Briffa,

Congratulations on your wedding in New Zealand and thank you for raising these concerns. In NSW I have spoken to OII about this before Gina retired.

The problem we face is the former federal government and the current one, continue to fail at giving intersex people the legal recognition and protection they deserve. The same can be said for many State Governments including NSW.

A state or territory based marriage bill can not fix the failures of federal recognition. I support the great work done by OII is campaigning for consistent recognition of intersex at a territory, state, and federal level and have committed to working with the Greens and Rainbow Labor in NSW to introduce relevant legislation in NSW and will support the campaign federally however I can.

Until such time that there is consistent recognition, based on the advice of constitutional experts, law reform institutes, and parliamentary inquiries, unfortunately the only thing State MPs can legislate for is same-sex marriage. We have challenged and tested this, and have been told that legislation such as the ACT bill would likely be deemed in conflict with the federal marriage act, overturned by the high court, and all the marriages that took place deemed invalid.

Amendments to the federal marriage act to allow any two adults to marry (as was the amendments in NZ), would solve everyone’s problem. But as a State MP I am limited to what I can do. State-based legislation allowing same-sex couples to marry does not take away anyone’s rights, it only increases them, and puts significant pressure on the federal government to legislate for marriage equality.

The above view is shared by my colleagues in the Greens, Labor, Liberal, and National parties who are progressing reform in NSW and been done in consultation with OII in NSW. If you wish to discuss further please email my office at Sydney@parliament.nsw.gov.au

Alex Greenwich MP
Member for Sydney

Cr Tony Briffa JP

Dear Alex,

Thank you for your comments and kind wishes on my recent wedding in New Zealand. It was lovely getting married in a country that celebrates marriage irrespective of one’s sex or sexual anatomy.

I am disappointed the ACT government has had to amend their Marriage Equality Bill to provide marriage for same-sex marriages only, but I understand and accept why they have done this. It’s important the legislation withstands a challenge in the High Court even if it means certain intersex, trans and gender diverse people are excluded – as long as we all continue the fight together until we are all equal.

As I’m sure you agree, I should not have to deny my biology and be legally recognised as one sex in order to marry. I was born biologically both male and female and accept my true nature. Forcing me to pick one sex further propagates the shame, stigma and invisibility intersex people already experience. We all agree marriage should be about a commitment between two people irrespective of sex.

I hope MPs specifically mention the issues regarding intersex recognition and marriage when the Bill is Second Read. We need to raise awareness of intersex issues. People still confuse intersex as being about gender identity when it’s actually about our biology.

The changes to the Bill, while understandable, reminds us that some people are more equal than others.

I am pleased same sex marriages (including yours) will soon be recognised in parts of Australia. I will have to wait a few more years before I am granted that same recognition.




The law is an ass. I know a m to f transgendered person who was legally able to marry another woman because she was (at that time) listed as ‘male’ on her birth certificate. Even in the St Kilda of the 1970s, it must have looked strange for two women to rock up to get married only to find that it was (and still is) perfectly legal.

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