Gay Marriage Sparks Fury, Debate In Australia

Supporters of marriage equality at a protest march in Sydney/Photo: AFP / Peter PARKS

Australia’s bitter political battle over legalising gay marriage came to a head Wednesday, with the government pushing ahead with a postal vote after parliament rejected a referendum.

Polls indicate popular support in Australia for marriage equality, but the issue has dragged on for more than a decade amid political wrangling over the best way to vote on the issue.

The conservative Liberal-National coalition last year went to the polls promising to hold a nationwide plebiscite.

But the opposition Labor Party, Greens and crossbench senators on Wednesday rejected the option in the upper house Senate for the second time.

The opposition, along with many gay rights campaigners, favours a free vote among MPs, with parliamentarians not bound by party policy.

They say a national vote is costly and will prove divisive, subjecting gay people and their families to hate speech.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull Tuesday committed Aus$122 million (US$97 million) to the postal vote, run by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, with ballot papers sent out by September 12 and due back early November.

“Strong leaders carry out their promises. Weak leaders break them,” he said.

If it returns a “yes” outcome, the government will table a private bill on parliament’s lower house, where the Liberals could cast a free vote by December.

If “no” is the result, the issue will not go to parliament.


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.