INTERVIEW: Australia's Ivan Hinton-Teoh talks work in advocacy and life as a husband for #5DaysofEquality

As #5DaysfoEquality continues, GLAAD is bringing you another interview with Australian Marriage Equality's Deputy Director, Ivan Hinton-Teoh. Yesterday, we published an interview with Ivan about his ongoing work advocating for the enactment of marriage equality in Australia. Today, we're speaking to him as one of the 31 couples who were married during December 7-12, 2013, before the Australian government nullified his marriage to his husband, Chris.

Ivan's responses highlight the need for greater awareness around marriage equality, which the #5DaysofEquality campaign is helping to bring. "Most people will never know how it feels to have their federal government challenge their relationship in a court of law and have it struck from a register, as if it never existed," Ivan tells GLAAD.

Read more from GLAAD's interview with Ivan below, and post a message on social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Instagram, and Tumblr, using the hashtag #5DaysOfEquality to wish Ivan, and the other couples a happy one year anniversary. Your message will be printed in paper cards to be delivered. 

Tell us about your relationship. How did you meet? How long have you been together?

Ironically, in the same way my parents met, I met Chris on the tennis court. 

It was 2002 and I was playing tennis with a cousin. Chris was this athletic, smiley guy on the next court, good naturedly cussing whenever he made a bad shot. For me it was love at first sight. For Chris it took a lot longer and with a lot more convincing.

I first proposed two weeks after we started dating, I had no doubts. However it took Chris several years and a further 6 proposals before he agreed.

As a couple, what was your first thought when you heard that marriage would be legalized? Did you feel urgency to get married right away?

Chris and I didn’t wait for Australia to catch up and, before I joined Australian Marriage Equality, we travelled to Canada in 2008 to exchange vows.

What bothered me since then is that we were not allowed to celebrate that experience, to become husband and husband, in front of our family and friends. 

At first I didn’t realize how important it was for our family and friends to enjoy the experience, but shortly before the ACT [Australian Capital Territory] passed the law, I had resolved to propose to Chris, yet again, because it would enable us to celebrate our relationship on Australian soil, amongst the people who mattered most to us.


What were you feeling when the marriages were cut off?  What about when they were nullified? 

Most people will never know how it feels to have their federal government challenge their relationship in a court of law and have it struck from a register, as if it never existed.

We awoke on December 7 feeling equal to our neighbors, and on December 12, our federal government had successfully intervened to remind us that we were not, and it was devastating.

Ivan, you work for Australian Marriage Equality. What is it like to experience something so personal for you as a couple, but also have it be your profession?

In that moment in time, and now on the first anniversary, it’s impossible to separate my role from the life I wish to live as an equal member of the Australian community.

It was equally important to share with the broader community the joy and love of our vows as much as it was to be honest about the pain we experienced by the federal government’s intervention.

We allowed media to document our experience because we feel it’s vital for reform that the broader community has the opportunity to see that our relationships have so much in common, regardless of the gender of your partner.

What's your prediction for when marriage equality is coming to Australia as a whole?

Soon, it may be that Australia is the last English speaking nation yet to achieve marriage equality and many Australians are becoming increasingly frustrated.  It’s certainly possible, with the support we have in Parliament, and the experience in other conservative lead countries like New Zealand and the United Kingdom, that we could achieve marriage equality before the next election.

Find out more about Ivan's work with Australian Marriage Equality by checking out the Pozible campaign, which is raising funds to support advocacy pushing for marriage equality in 2015.