Australia’s Malaysian-born minister backs gay marriages

(The Malaysian Insider) – Australia’s Malaysian-born Finance Minister Penny Wong called today for the ruling Labor party (ALP) to outline its commitment to same-sex marriages in its national congress next month.

Wong, whose initial appointment to the Australian Cabinet in 2007 was widely reported in Malaysia, wrote an opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald today that Labor’s current policy platform “perpetuates unequal treatment of some Australians solely on the grounds of their sexual orientation.”

Wong was born in Kota Kinabalu in 1968. — Picture courtesy of The Age

“Like many, my belief in equality led me to join the ALP. It is this belief that drives my advocacy for equality in relation to marriage for same-sex couples, and for a change to the party platform at next month’s national conference,” wrote Australia’s first openly gay minister.

Wong said that although “it is this Labor government that removed discrimination against same-sex couples in more than 80 areas of the law,” Australians should not be denied the right to marry just because they are not heterosexual.

“Can we justify valuing a relationship less, in law and in practice, solely on the basis of the genders of the partners?

“Surely Australia has reached a point where we can value relationships by markers such as respect, commitment and love. I have no doubt our laws will one day reflect this,” the senator said.

Born in Kota Kinabalu in 1968, Wong’s promotion to finance minister last year in Julia Gillard’s administration was also reported in the local media and fuelled public debate on Malaysia’s brain drain.

Wong had previously handled the climate change portfolio under former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.