Tourism operators in Tasmania are pushing for the Apple Isle to become a premier destination for same-sex couples to tie the knot and enjoy their honeymoon.
Tasmanians United for Marriage Equality has teamed with the Tourism Industry Council Tasmania to launch a social media campaign extolling the virtues of the state.
It comes as this Tuesday marks the day when same-sex couples in Australia will be able to formally marry following last year’s legislation-breaking postal survey.
Rodney Croome, a long-time advocate for marriage equality, and his partner Rafael Manzanilla (pictured with Tourism Industry Council Tasmania’s chief executive Luke Martin), feature in a video shot at locations across Tasmania.
At the official launch in Hobart, Mr Croome said the aim of the video is to send the message that Tasmania is an inclusive and friendly wedding destination for LGBTI Tasmanian ex-pats who want to return home to marry, and for other LGBTI people looking for a destination wedding.
Mr Croome tells the LBGTIQ community that although Tasmania was the last state to legalise homosexuality in 1997, it was now a changed place.
Tourism operations have set up “rainbow accreditation” for operators to show that their business treats all people in the same non-discriminatory manner.
“Tasmania has been quick off the mark to make sure all of those people who are considering marrying in our state are aware that when they do come here they will be treated in a friendly … and dignified way,” Mr Croome said.
“Tasmania is a safe and friendly place for them to marry and it will have a very positive impact on the Tasmanian economy.”
Mr Croome said the Apple Isle now had the best anti-discrimination and relationship laws, and that he was proud Tasmania returned one of the highest “Yes” votes in the country in the recent marriage equality survey, and one of the highest levels of parliamentary support for the subsequent legislation.
Showcasing celebrated Tasmanian tourism attractions such as Port Arthur and Mona, the campaign also touches on one of the darkest periods in the state’s history — when Mr Croome and other gay rights campaigners were arrested at the Salamanca Market in 1988 after a complaint by the Hobart City Council over their stall calling for homosexuality to be decriminalised.
In 1994, Mr Croome and his then partner walked into a police station to confess to the crime of homosexuality. Their actions led to the campaign to repeal state laws, and went all the way to Australia’s High Court and the United Nations.
Mr Martin said the current campaign was the result of Mr Croome asking what was being done to promote Tasmania as a destination following the new marriage laws.
“One of Tasmania’s great appeals as a destination is the richness of our story, and obviously the fact that we are honest about everything about Tasmania, about the past, the history and the heritage,” he said.
“When you talk about the evolution of the LGBTIQ rights in Tasmania over the past couple of decades, it’s quite a remarkable story that we have here.”
Mr Martin said it was an invitation to all same-sex couple and their families.
“We want them down here, we want them to get married and we want to showcase Tasmania … and we want them to be a part of that story,” he said.
Tasmania returned a 63.6 per cent “Yes” vote in the same-sex marriage postal survey. The national average was 62 per cent.