The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (NSWGLRL) today welcomed the decision of the Australian Senate to reject – again – the Federal Government’s plebiscite proposal.
But Convenor of the NSWGLRL, Lauren Foy, warned that the path ahead for marriage equality supporters will require even greater energy, passion and persistence than their efforts up to now.
“We unequivocally condemn the idea of using a non-compulsory postal survey vote – a postal ‘plebiscite’ – especially when it has no power to compel MPs to vote according to the result.
“But we acknowledge a postal vote could still become reality, depending on the success of the High Court challenge announced yesterday,” Ms Foy said.
She continued, “we strongly urge members of the community to make sure your enrolment and residential address is up to date with the Australian Electoral Commission by visiting their website – and to do this NOW before the enrolment period closes.”
“You won’t receive your voting form in the mail unless you update your enrolment.”
“We hope that a postal vote doesn’t go ahead but if it does we want to make sure the community is ready. A postal vote campaign will need all of our energy and passion to bring the nation with us on the journey to equality.”
POSTAL PLEBISCITE A NEW LOW IN MORE THAN 100 YEARS OF AUSTRALIAN LAW-MAKING
Ms Foy then criticised the remarkable precedent being set by the proposed postal survey, and the failure of politicians to protect the law-making traditions and institutions of Australia.
“The current Government says the 1977 national anthem poll is a precedent for a postal plebiscite – but it’s abundantly clear this proposal is a new low in more than one hundred years of law-making in Australia.
“Subjecting the legal and civil rights of a minority group to a national opinion poll is in no way comparable to changing our national anthem,” she said.
Ms Foy said the careless destruction of the law-making traditions and institutions of Australia represents a clear and present danger to social cohesion in a diverse modern Australia.
“If a government, without blinking, can propose a multimillion dollar plebiscite on the civil rights of the LGBTI community, then what’s to stop us from holding a plebiscite or postal survey on freedom of religious expression? Or on which migrants can enter Australia? Or on the salaries of politicians?
“If this wasn’t about gay rights then have no doubt – there would be more politicians and loud- mouthed commentators speaking out against this idea, especially those who claim they defend our institutions and traditions,” Ms Foy stated.
“A multimillion dollar straw poll on the legal and civil rights of a minority is unprecedented and stomach-turning – and this situation is so twisted that marriage equality advocates are fighting harder to keep our law-making traditions than some outspoken conservatives.
“The High Court ruled the only way this can be resolved is in the Parliament, and that’s where this debate should rightfully be held,” Ms Foy concluded.