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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriage (SSM) in Australia

2016-OCT: Some movement is
detectable in Parliament and the
rest of the country about SSM.

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Part 22

Throughout this web site, "SSM" refers to marriages by same-sex couples.
"LGBT" refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals.

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This topic is continued from a previous essay.

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map of Australia 2016-OCT-06: Opinion poll shows public support in favor of Parliament passing a law to enable same-sex marriage:

The ReachTel polling agency conducted a poll throughout Australia concerning same-sex marriage. Almost 3,000 adults across Australia were asked about a quick vote in Parliament that, if passed, would legalize same-sex marriage during 2016. Results were strongly in favor:

  • 46.2% said that a quick vote in Parliament was "very important."
  • 19.5% said it was "somewhat important."
  • 34.3% said it was "not at all important." 1

The margin of error was about ±1.8 percentage points.

It is surprising to us that the "not at all important" option did not receive a greater support. That is because the bill would only directly affect persons who have a homosexual or bisexual orientation or who are pansexual. About 90% of the adult population are heterosexual and have always been able to marry, as long as they were old enough and not too closely related.

Alex Greenwich, Co-Chair of Australian Marriage Equality, said: 

"Australians are ready to celebrate marriage equality and want our politicians to legislate this year. A majority of voters across all parties, and undecided voters, feel it’s important this reform is achieved without delay. This survey reveals that the Australian people support marriage equality and simply want parliament to do its job so we can all move forward.

The opponent’s campaign wont stop if a plebiscite is blocked, this means urgent action is required from our supporters across the political divide to deliver this reform by a parliamentary vote without further delay." 2

Tiernan Brady, executive director of Australians for Equality, had earlier been involved in the Irish plebiscite. He said that if the plebiscite option is rejected by the Australian Parliament, it would be important to use the "momentum and enthusiasm" that has been built up to enact marriage quickly. He said:

"Once it happens, it ceases to be a political issue because everyone just moves on. In Ireland, no one stood at the recent election on the platform of repealing same sex marriage.

Just as Ireland, the USA, NZ, and the UK have put the unnecessarily divisive debate behind them, the Australian parliament has in its power to do this by the end of the year.

If the plebiscite is derailed this week it is now more important than ever to use the momentum and enthusiasm built up to enact marriage equality.

Should Labor oppose a plebiscite, we will be urging all parties to put the plebiscite to rest swiftly, and move to achieve marriage equality this year through a vote in parliament." 2

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2016-OCT-09: Results of an out-of-country poll organized by two Australian universities:

Two Australian universities -- the Victoria University and the University of Queensland -- joined together to conduct a poll of 1,600 members of the LGBTI community in Ireland using social media. A plebiscite was conducted in Ireland during 2015-MAY and resulted in the marriage equality there.

The main polling results were that:

  • Fewer than 25% would be happy to repeat the Irish referendum in the future.

  • Almost 75% said that the campaign in opposition to same-sex marriage had a highly detrimental impact on LGBTI youth and on the children of LGBTI parents. 1

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2016-OCT-10: Apparent position of the political parties in Parliament, and one citizen:

  • Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, head of Labor party, opposes the proposed referendum, he said:

    "My team and I have taken the time to sit down and listen to experts and individuals and their families who will be affected by it. I've struggled to find anyone who thinks it's a good idea. The level of community opposition to the plebiscite is quite extraordinary. The more Australians hear about Malcolm Turnbull's plebiscite, the less they like it. Australia has never held a national opinion poll to judge anyone else's relationship, so people are legitimately asking why this should be inflicted on LGBTI Australians and their families." 1

A Labor party caucus was scheduled for OCT-11 to determine the party's position. The two strong options are a plebiscite to be held in 2017, or a simple vote by Members of Parliament on a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, presumably in 2016.

The Labor party's "Shadow treasurer," Chris Bowen, commented:

"There's no secret that we are deeply concerned. "The reasons are multiple. Whether it's the cost [of conducting the plebiscite, or] the impact on the well being of young Australians in particular who are same-sex attracted." 1

  • In contrast, the ruling Coalition appears to support only the plebiscite option to be followed later by a marriage bill in Parliament if there is majority public support for marriage equality. Attorney-General George Brandis is considering changes from the original plebescite-enabling legislation that would:
    • Provide additional funding for mental health promotion groups to reduce the damage that the LGBT community would be expected to experience during the lead up to a referendum as a result of attacks on the community and negative advertisements by persons and groups opposing marriage equality.

    • Provide additional protections for clergy and civil marriage celebrants who want to discriminate against the LGBT community by refusing to officiate at same-sex marriages. 1

However, public accommodations -- companies that provide goods and services to the general public -- who refuse to serve engaged same-sex couples planning to marry will not receive protection from the existing human rights laws. This would include florists, venue providers, bakers, wedding gown sellers, etc.

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  • "Darcy" from Sydney posted one of the 221 comments to the Sydney Morning Herald article which may reflect the beliefs of many Australians. He wrote:

    "The Liberal Party have made their bed and now they have to lay in it!

    They thought they were smart and thought up the Plebiscite to delay or postpone forever the issue of Same Sex Marriage recognition to appease their own beliefs and now they are stuck with it.

    The big dilemma for Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal Party is the majority of people don't want their costly, divisive and abusive Plebiscite but they want Same Sex Marriage equality for Same Sex Couples and their Families.

    Their only options are to ignore the wishes of the majority of voters which will come back to haunt them at the next election or to back down and have a vote in the Parliament like they should have had in the first place." 1

  • "onesecond" posted a comment to the Pink News article, saying:

    "They rather waste hundreds of millions to ignore the obvious will of the people just a couple of months longer and keeping people from getting equal rights and to incite unnessecary hatred.

    How crazy are these people?" 2

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This topic is continued in the next essay.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Heath Aston, "Labor to torpedo same sex marriage plebiscite as new poll finds two-thirds want vote in Parliament," Sydney Morning Herald, 2016-OCT-10, at: http://www.smh.com.au/
  2. Nick Duffy, "Australians are officially running out of patience on equal marriage," Pink News, 2016-OCT-01, at: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/

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Copyright © 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2016-OCT-10
Latest update: 2016-OCT-14
Assembled by: B.A. Robinson

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