We’ve won the plebiscite battle… but the fight isn’t over

Today’s decision by the federal Labor party room to not support legislation allowing a divisive, costly and unnecessary plebiscite on marriage equality is a win for common sense and community welfare, the New South Wales Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby says.

The prominent state-based community group welcomes the outcome of months of consultation by the Australian Labor Party, which looks to have all but quashed the legislation’s prospects when it reaches the Senate later this week.

“It has always been our belief that the most effective way of achieving marriage equality is with a free vote in the Parliament,” NSW GLRL co-convenor Lauren Foy said.

“Along with countless other LGBTI community groups, we’ve held grave concerns about the impact of a plebiscite on millions of Australians. The ALP’s decision is the right one, but this isn’t the end of the issue – it’s just the beginning.

“Attention will now shift to continuing meaningful discussions with MPs from all parties in order to achieve marriage equality as soon as possible.”

The proposed plebiscite had extremely minimal support in the LGBTI community. It would have been expensive – estimated to cost at least $200 million – and it would have likely promoted disharmony, division and discrimination.

“We need only look to the experiences of the Irish referendum on marriage equality to see what damage might’ve been inflicted,” Ms Foy said. “There were absolutely no positives to a plebiscite so today’s outcome is the right one.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all MPs we’ve engaged with over long periods of time on this issue, including those in the Liberal Party who’ve shown they are committed allies of our community.

“We look forward to continuing to working with all members of Parliament to make equality a reality at long last in the very near future.”

Momentum for progress is strong, with community support for marriage equality at all-time high levels, Ms Foy said.

“LGBTI groups across the country have united and with them, we are confident that equality is on the horizon,” she said.

Since 1988, the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby has been leading the fight for substantive equality and social justice for lesbians, gay men and their families in NSW.

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