Dr Shirleene Robinson is the National Spokesperson and Director for Australian Marriage Equality
As Sydney’s 2017 Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade approaches, all Australians are given an opportunity to reflect on how far we have come in building an inclusive nation that embraces diversity. There are some stories, though, that remind us that there is still much to be achieved and that the personal cost of inequality still reverberates through our community.
The 50 year relationship of two courageous and community-minded men, Peter de Waal and Peter “Bon” Bonsall-Boone, is one such story. This couple have shared half a century of memories together, yet they are still waiting for the chance to have their lifelong love and commitment recognised with a marriage certificate under Australian law.
Last year, surrounded by a wide circle of friends and family, Peter and Bon shared a beautiful anniversary celebration to commemorate their many years of love and devotion. The crowded hall was filled with warmth and joy as the two men exchanged rings presented to them by their honorary grandson. Applause erupted at their deeply moving display of love and emotion as they reminisced about their journey together. Amongst the joy though, there was urgency to the words the men spoke. Bon is navigating serious health challenges, and it was important to the couple to publicly celebrate their lifetime together and the support and strength they have always drawn from each other.
This year, Peter and Bon will lead the Equality Campaign float at Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras – calling passionately for action on a parliamentary vote on marriage equality. They courageously participated in the first Mardi Gras in 1978, drawing attention to the many social and legal prejudices that gay men and lesbians faced. This year, they will participate to emphasise the personal cost of denying marriage equality to loving couples.