With details of the proposed plebiscite into marriage equality now released by the federal government, the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (NSW GLRL) calls for the blocking of plebiscite legislation, and for all sides of parliament to work together to achieve marriage equality as quickly as possible through a free vote.
In addition to increased costs of the plebiscite due to proposed campaign funding allocations, the NSW GLRL also has concerns over the wording of the question (referring only to same-sex couples), the non-binding nature of any public vote, as well as no additional commitment being made to ensure the mental health and wellbeing of the LGBTI communities.
We know that marriage equality has broad community support, with polling consistently showing that two-thirds of Australians support marriage equality. We know that should a free vote be allowed for all sides of parliament, marriage equality legislation would pass both houses. The proposed plebiscite structure, to be introduced into federal parliament tomorrow, is not equal for both sides of the campaign.
Co-convenor Chris Pycroft said “Changes to the Marriage Act in 2004 meant increased discrimination and prejudice against our community; it was a statement which said that our love is not equal. We will continue to fight for the passage of marriage equality. LGBTI Australians do not support a national vote on marriage equality. It is an unnecessary mechanism that would still require legislation to be introduced into parliament after the proposed public vote.
“We’re genuinely concerned about the impact an enduring taxpayer funded public debate on marriage equality will have on LGBTI people and their families. What we have seen in recent weeks, is that no matter what kind of a debate occurs, it will be divisive and it will impact on the mental health of LGBTI people. We do not support a publically funded smear campaign.”
“In recent months we’ve seen young same-sex attracted and gender diverse people used as political pawns through orchestrated attacks on programs designed to keep them safe. Attacks that, along with scare campaigns about LGBTI families, are the emerging foundation of a plebiscite “no” campaign”, says Co-convenor Lauren Foy.
“To deny a free vote on marriage equality, to deny the will of the vast majority of Australians, and to deny LGBTI Australians their right to equality, dignity and respect, is a statement which says that our love is not equal. It says that the trust we place in the democratic process of electing effective leadership to govern our wonderful country, to make decisions in the best interest of the nation, are a moot point.
“We will continue to urge our federal leaders to work together to resolve a passage that makes marriage equality a reality for our communities during this term of government,” said Co-Convenor Lauren Foy.
Further comment is available upon request.