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'Second class citizens': gay marriage supporters march through Sydney

Plea to Julia Gillard ... a rally for gay marriage equality at Town Hall.

Plea to Julia Gillard ... a rally for gay marriage equality at Town Hall. Photo: Dallas Kilponen

"Gays, straight, left, right: marriage is a civil right," was chanted throughout Sydney's CBD today as close to 1000 people marched for same-sex marriage in Australia.

There was a renewed sense of hope at the rally after US President Barack Obama and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key declared their support for same-sex marriage this week.

I think it's ridiculous that Australia has still not passed legislation supporting gay marriage and this is a real issue that is affecting real people. 

Co-ordinator of the pro-marriage equality rally, Bryn Hutchinson, said it was only a matter of time before the Australian government would also support same-sex marriage.

Supporters of gay marriage protested outside Sydney's Town Hall.

Supporters of gay marriage protested outside Sydney's Town Hall. Photo: Dallas Kilponen

"Australia is now lagging behind all the English speaking countries," Mr Hutchinson said. "We now have the UK Tory Prime Minister, the Canadian government, the American President and the New Zealand Prime Minister saying they support same-sex marriage. My hope is that we will have same-sex marriage in a year.

"If we keep saying important it is, we'll get it."

Before the rally, that marched from Town Hall to Taylor Square, comedians Tom Ballard and Clare Hooper addressed the colourfully dressed audience in Town Hall Square, encouraging them to "confront discrimination" and ensure equality.

"I'm a young gay Australian and I think it's ridiculous that Australia has still not passed legislation supporting gay marriage and this is a real issue that is affecting real people," Ballard, the ABC Breakfast radio star, said.

"At the moment gay Australians are second-class citizens and it needs to change."

Across the country, rallies were held in Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth and Adelaide. Organisers say more than 6500 people marched nationwide.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and opposition leader Ed Miliband support gay marriage, as does Ireland's opposition Republican party. Canada has allowed same-sex marriage since 2005.

Both Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott oppose gay marriage.

- with AFP

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