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New South Wales, News

NSW Health apologises for order banning gay wedding kisses

A public health order passed for Sydney’s Northern Beaches before the holiday break has been amended to no longer forbid same-sex kissing at weddings.

The Public Health (COVID-19 Northern Beaches) Order 2020 stated that everyone at gatherings of more than two people must wear face masks except when eating or drinking, and in the case of weddings, for the groom to kiss the bride.

It did not state even that brides may kiss grooms, and same-sex and gender diverse couples were seemingly excluded.

The clause has been removed from a new version of the public health order, and New South Wales Health has apologised for the original wording.

“We acknowledge [the] concerns about the use of bride and groom and the potential for discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex community as a result of the wording,” said a department representative.

“NSW Health sincerely apologises for the wording in the Public Health Order and regrets the distress members of the community have experienced.

“Please be assured that NSW Health will take [community] concerns into consideration when making any future public health orders.”

Despite the apparent oversight in the public health order, same-sex marriage has been legally recognised in Australia since 2017, with Sydney one of the first cities to perform gay weddings.

As part of the provisions to reduce transmission of COVID-19, Sydneysiders were restricted to gatherings of no more than 10 people over the holiday period, with children aged under 12 exempt.

Everyone in areas with COVID-19 is being asked to limit their in-person contact with others.

The restrictions on gatherings, including weddings, follow a year of various lockdowns across Australia and the world in a bid to limit transmission of the novel coronavirus.

As the pandemic continues, up-to-date public health information is available from federal and state government websites.

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