THERE wasn’t a dry eye in the House when youth MPs from across NSW voted unanimously to legalise same-sex marriages on Thursday.
‘‘It was a really humbling moment,’’ said Brendan Ma, of West Pennant Hills, one of the 160 YMCA NSW Youth Parliamentarians at NSW Parliament House last week to witness history.
‘‘Right before the vote our Deputy Premier talked about his own experience.
‘‘He himself had faced a type of bullying because of his own sexual orientation.
‘‘I had to leave the chamber; I couldn’t take it. It was so overwhelming.
‘‘The issue of public housing was also very emotional.’’
A year 10 student at James Ruse Agricultural High School, Brendan was one of four students from The Hills represented in the youth parliament last week.
He acted as the Member for Castle Castle Hill and Treasurer.
The youth parliament program gives young people like Brendan a voice in the running of their state.
In issue-based committees of 10, they get to create a Bill with the aim of solving a problem they are passionate about.
‘‘We had to work out a side that was sponsoring the bill and a side that was refuting it but the Parliamentary and Legal Reform Committee [handling this Bill] were all in agreement, so one small flaw was raised,’’ Brendan, 15, said.
‘‘There was a clause that said ‘any celebrant could refuse to marry a couple if they were opposed to it’.
‘‘The other side wanted it to say ‘only religious celebrants could refuse to marry a couple’.
‘‘With all that said, as soon as the committee went into the chamber to debate it, you could sense how momentous the occasion was.
‘‘The Youth Minister was in tears within a minute.’’
Brendan said it was proof young people are not apathetic about politics, that they can be very passionate about an issue, even a political one, when it counts.
Brendan’s classmate Kelly Wu, of Carlingford, was in the committee investigating Aboriginal Affairs, while Jesse Hare and Johnson Man were on the committee investigating housing and the select committee investigating industrial relations, respectively.
Students took part in Question Time, Matters of Public Importance and Private Members Business — just like the adult politicians do.
‘‘This program is something I am really grateful for,’’ Brendan said.
‘‘I now know I want to do something that will make a difference, whether that’s in public service or something else.’’
■ Who thinks it's a shame the same-sex marriage Bill was hypothetical?