Major firm backs marriage equality push

As the first major Australian firm comes out in support of marriage equality, a partner says lawyers have an obligation to address human rights issues.

Allens has become the first major law firm in Australia to publicly support marriage equality.

Partner Rachel Nicolson said supporting rights issues is extremely important for the legal profession, and hopes that the firm’s statement will encourage the rest of the legal profession to follow suit. 

“It’s incumbent on legal professionals to turn their minds to these sorts of matters. We have the skill set to do it and certainly professional services tends to be quite progressive on these sorts of issues,” she said.  “This issue in an Australian context has not been characterised so clearly as a human rights related issue which is at base a legal issue.  It is a real interest to the firm as a part of the legal profession to address the legal discrimination aspects of marriage equality.”

“We proudly and openly support the movement for Australia to join its contemporaries (including New Zealand, Great Britain and the majority of the United States) and legalise same-sex marriage,” said the firm’s statement.  

Allens has had a very active LGBTIQ network which undertakes advocacy work, so releasing the statement was the next logical step for the firm. The ALLin network was established in 2011 to provide opportunities for LGBTIQ identifying employees to build relationships with one another and with the wider community.

“The business community is increasingly behind this issue, particularly banks and financial services have led the march in Australia on this issue, that is reflective of when law reform occurred in other jurisdictions,” said Nicolson.  “We’re certainly not the first business, we might be the first major law firm to come out with this sort of a statement but we’re not the first business.”

The announcement comes in time for IDAHOT, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, which marks the anniversary of the World Health Organisation declassifying homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1990.

“As lawyers, we have an onus to address rights related issues; we’re advocates at base and that’s our natural leaning,” she said.  “Hopefully adding our voice and being loud about doing it will assist.”

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