Equality Australia farewells accomplished board chair Tom Snow 

30 November 2023 – The founder of Australia’s official YES campaign for marriage equality, Tom Snow, has announced he is stepping down as Chair of national LGBTIQ+ organisation, Equality Australia. 

The occasion is being celebrated today with public statements of community recognition delivered by Federal Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg and Independent Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich.

Mr Snow celebrated his marriage to husband Doug Pengilly just yesterday on Sydney Harbour after a two-year engagement.  

After founding the official YES campaign in the 2017 marriage equality national postal vote, Snow played a crucial role as Co-Chair, establishing the campaign, lobbying parliamentarians, and mobilising philanthropic communities to raise over $20 million in financial and in-kind support to help secure the historic win. Eventually launching in late 2016, the “Equality Campaign” brought together civil society, industry and philanthropy to help win marriage equality, in which millions of Australians stood up to support the rights and dignity of LGBTIQ+ Australians on 15 November 2017.  

Following the success of marriage equality, Tom Snow worked with fellow Co-Chair Anna Brown to re-purpose the unprecedented community infrastructure created by YES and found Equality Australia as a permanent body to tackle the discrimination and systemic injustice experienced by LGBTIQ+ people.  

Equality Australia has since gone on to campaign for freedom from religious discrimination, helped to reform ID laws for trans and gender diverse people in VIC and QLD, advocate for comprehensive inclusion in the census, work to ban conversion practices, as well as Australia-first protections for intersex people in the ACT. 

Mr Snow’s philanthropy also extends to advancements in medicine, with the Snow Medical Research Foundation recently donating $100 million to immunology research, one of the largest grants ever to an Australian medical research institute. 

Liberal Senator Alex Bragg, who spearheaded “Libs Nats for YES” in 2017, is expected to say in the Senate today: 

“Tom stands for minority interests in Australia. Tom has been brave and brilliant as a champion of the LGBTI community. Tom helped push Australia in the right direction on marriage equality, which was a historic reform.” 

Equality Australia CEO, Anna Brown said that while Mr Snow’s departure marked a new chapter in the organisation, his impact on LGBTIQ+ liberation will be felt by LGBTIQ+ Australians forever. 

“Tom’s legacy as a leader and advocate is clearly seen in the rights and reforms that our community enjoys today,” she said.  

“Marriage equality was obviously a historical touchstone. However, with Tom’s stewardship, Equality Australia has secured incredible reforms across the country that will better the lives of LGBTIQ+ people for generations to come. 

“While the decision to step down as chair marks the end of an era for our work at Equality Australia, we can’t wait to see what the next adventure brings. One thing I know is that Tom will continue doing what he does best – improving the lives of people across Australia who need it most.” 

NSW MP Alex Greenwich, who played a key role in the marriage equality movement including as Co-Chair of the Equality Campaign will also deliver a community statement of recognition in NSW Parliament today. He is expected to say:

“I’m proud to honour Tom’s leadership and determination as Chair of Equality Australia. He has helped ensure the momentum from achieving marriage equality has continued towards a safer, fairer, and equal Australia for LGBTQIA+ people and our families.”

WA Senator Louise Pratt said in the Federal Senate:

"I pay tribute to [Tom] and his enormous contribution to the marriage equality campaign and the way he translated the infrastructure of the Yes campaign into firm leadership for LGBTIQ+ rights across the nation."

Current Equality Australia Deputy Chair and Victorian Legal Services Commissioner and Victorian Legal Services Board CEO Fiona McLeay, who has played a key role in Equality Australia’s establishment and growth over the past five years, will become Interim Chair following Tom’s departure.  

Contact: Emily Mulligan, emily.mulligan@equalityaustralia.org.au, 0411 207 633