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Image for Sydney Symphony Orchestra Backflips On “Neutral” Same-Sex Marriage StanceSydney Symphony Orchestra Perform With Flight Facilities @ The Domain, Sydney 2016 / Photo: Maria Boyadgis

Sydney Symphony Orchestra Backflips On “Neutral” Same-Sex Marriage Stance

Written by Zanda Wilson on October 3, 2017

The Sydney Symphony Orchestra has officially changed its stance on marriage equality, with the board declaring the SSO is now strongly in support of same-sex marriage.

The SSO had copped strong backlash last month for declaring it would “remain neutral” in Australia’s same-sex marriage debate.

The key reason behind the backflip appears to be incoming Sydney Symphony Orchestra CEO Emma Dunch, who in a same-sex relationship herself.

In a statement posted to Facebook, the SSO’s board say that the initial decision to remain neutral was “misjudged” and iterated the desire for commitment to inclusiveness.

“The Sydney Symphony Orchestra initially decided that it should remain neutral on this question, taking the view that as a matter of principle it would not take a position that might be seen to commit its wide range of stakeholders to one side or the other,” the board said.

“In doing so, the Board now acknowledges that it misjudged the need for such an organisation – with its long commitment to inclusiveness, equality and fairness – publicly to proclaim its support for the yes vote which plainly advances each of those ideals. This decision has the overwhelming support of the SSO’s musicians and staff.”

The SSO also posted a statement from incoming CEO Dunch. “As the incoming Chief Executive Officer of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra next January and an out, gay leader, I am proud to express my personal and professional commitment to advancing equality and inclusion for the LGBTQIA community, and to affirm my unflinching support for marriage equality.

“I believe that same-sex marriage is inevitable in Australia, and that this outcome is right and just. I hope that you will join me and my colleagues on that journey, confident that the Sydney Symphony Orchestra will continue to welcome and support our LGBTQIA community and be an organization that strives to foster respectful, meaningful dialogue around complex issues.”

Read Emma Dunch’s statement in full, below.

Gallery: Flight Facilities + Sydney Symphony Orchestra – The Domain 2016 / Photos: Maria Boyadgis

Statement from Emma Dunch, incoming CEO of the SSO (Via Facebook)

“As the incoming Chief Executive Officer of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra next January and an out, gay leader, I am proud to express my personal and professional commitment to advancing equality and inclusion for the LGBTQIA community, and to affirm my unflinching support for marriage equality. I believe that same-sex marriage is inevitable in Australia, and that this outcome is right and just.

Over the weekend, I have joined the SSO’s musicians, staff, and Board members in discussions that have helped clarify the organization’s position in support of marriage equality in Australia. I deeply appreciate the thoughtfulness that has been brought to bear throughout a respectful and nuanced dialogue. I know that there are very diverse views across Australia on this issue, and I respect the Board’s commitment to encouraging every Australian to develop his or her own opinion, and to vote.

For me, this is about more than my own identity. Personally, I believe that our society and its institutions are made stronger and more vibrant by the diversity of the individuals who people them. And I believe that denying those of us in same-sex relationships the civil rights accorded the married is the antithesis of the Aussie “fair go” and perpetuates profound inequality. I hope that my home country will soon be one that validates my committed relationship of 17 years.

Artists and their art have long played an important role in challenging accepted norms. I am committed to leading a Sydney Symphony Orchestra that champions its exceptional musicians, serves Sydneysiders in new ways, and provides value to our city beyond traditional concert-giving. I hope that you will join me and my colleagues on that journey, confident that the Sydney Symphony Orchestra will continue to welcome and support our LGBTQIA community and be an organization that strives to foster respectful, meaningful dialogue around complex issues.

After nearly two decades in New York City, I will be returning home to Sydney with my life partner, Elizabeth Scott (pictured left). We have been gratified by the terrifically warm welcome we have received from the SSO’s Board, staff and musicians. We look forward to making new friends when we arrive next year and to proudly counting ourselves among the many Australians who support a fair and inclusive society for all.”

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