Home | Australia | 'Things take a long time to change': Queensland's first same-sex registry wedding

'Things take a long time to change': Queensland's first same-sex registry wedding

Jarrukit Somjich and Kitticha Srijad broke new ground on Friday, celebrating their love in a state with a chequered past on LGBTI rights

<!–[if IE 9]><![endif]–>Kitticha Srijad and Jarrukit Somjich pose for photographs after getting married at the Queensland’ registry office in Brisbane on Friday.




Kitticha Srijad and Jarrukit Somjich pose for photographs after getting married at the Queensland’ registry office in Brisbane on Friday.
Photograph: Jono Searle/AAP

‘Things take a long time to change’: Queensland’s first same-sex registry wedding

Jarrukit Somjich and Kitticha Srijad broke new ground on Friday, celebrating their love in a state with a chequered past on LGBTI rights

The groom carried sunflowers, to represent the sun shining in their lives.

His groom carried white roses. They’d made the bouquets the night before.

As Thai singer-songwriter Boyd Kosiyabong sang of happiness in their first language, Jarrukit Somjich and Kitticha Srijad became the first same-sex couple to get married in Queensland’s births deaths and marriages registry.

And as the celebrant said “marriage, according to the law in Australia, is the union of two people to the exclusion of all others”, the smiles were so wide, you could hear them.

“We just want to say thank you,” Srijad said, following the ceremony. “Thank you to Australia.”

He had asked and asked and asked Somijch to marry him for so long, that when he finally said “yes” two years ago, he thought “oh that’s alright”.

“But I never thought this would happen,” Simjich said. “I never thought it would be legal.”

But the simple ceremony, topped off with a celebration at a local Brisbane Thai restaurant made history on Friday.

While a Gold Coast couple became the first same sex couple to marry in Queensland last week, Simijch and Srijad made history on Friday, as the first couple to be married in the government registry.

It was an occasion marked by acting premier Jackie Trad, who made mention of the rocky and at times despairing path Queensland in particular had taken to get to this moment.

“It’s been a long hard road to this point but I’m sure we’ll see many more ceremonies where two people, regardless of gender, are able to declare their love in front of family and friends.”

The new registry office is not too far from its old home, the executive building Joh Bjelke-Petersen had built on George Street, a brutalist monolith he felt represented the state’s power.

<!–[if IE 9]><![endif]–>Kitticha Srijad and Jarrukit Somjich exchange vows at the Queensland’ registry office in Brisbane.


Kitticha Srijad and Jarrukit Somjich exchange vows at the Queensland’ registry office in Brisbane. Photograph: Jono Searle/AAP

That building was recently demolished to make way for a casino. Not too long afterward, 60.7% of Queenslanders voted yes in the marriage equality postal survey, which ultimately allowed Somijich and Srijad and thousands of other couples to get married.

The entire LGBTI community in Queensland is aware of the state’s past. In the Bjelke-Petersen era, many fled to NSW and Victoria, as the state government not only authorised but encouraged its police force to crack down their community.

Beatings were common. As were charges for homosexuality. As much of the nation was moving to decriminalise homosexuality, Queensland was pushing for lesbians to be included in prosecutions.

The Bjelke-Petersen cabinet discussed banning gay men from public swimming pools during the height of the Aids crisis, concerned the virus could be spread through water.

Raids were carried out against gay bars, while condom machines were ripped from university walls.

Eventually, Wayne Goss, the first Labor premier in almost two decades, decrimalised homosexuality in an emotional session of parliament in 1990. But it would take until last year for a Queensland government to pass legislation to expunge the convictions for homosexuality handed down during the Bjelke-Petersen era.

It would take until 2016 for the Queensland government to standadise the age of consent. The age of consent for anal sex, until recently still referred to a “sodomy” in the law books was 18, compared to 16 for oral and vaginal sex, preventing doctors and officials from legally offering advice on the practice to those under 18.

In the dying days of Anna Bligh’s 2012 government, Labor legalised civil partnerships for LGBTI couples, to give legal recognition to same-sex couples. It was one of the first pieces of legislation the LNP government, led by Campbell Newman, changed upon taking power. Civil partnerships became “registered relationships” which many in the LGBTI community compared to registering a pet.

LGBTI singles and couples could not adopt children until 2016 in Queensland and it would take until March the next year for the “gay panic” defence, which allowed those charged with the assault or murder of a same-sex attracted person, to claim they were provoked and panicked into the crime by an unwanted homosexual advance, to be abolished.

The defence was last used in Queensland in 2008, when two men, accused of killing Wayne Ruks, used gay panic, also known as “homosexual advance defence” to plead down to manslaughter.

Now the LGBTI community is bracing for the religious freedom debate, with the Philip Ruddock-led committee to hand down its report in March.

On that note the beaming smile of Srijad dims a little, before returning to full-beam while looking at his new husband.

“Things take a long time to change,” is all he will say.

Queensland stands as a testament to that.

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