The leader of the Australian Senate says she’s not in favour of a referendum on equal marriage – despite supporting marriage rights for same-sex couples.
Senator Penny Wong told Australia’s Insight programme: “The reason I don’t support a referendum has been demonstrated in the debate thus far – I don’t believe that I want to be put in a situation…or I want the country and community in a situation, where some of the hateful things that have been said in this debate become so central to the public discourse.
“And you may snigger [directed at audience member] but those of us who are on the receiving end of prejudice, homophobia – who receive letters and texts and tweets about ourselves and our children understand what is out there and what the public debate can be.
“We saw only a glimpse of that. I had to sit in the Senate where one of my colleagues likened this to a discussion about bestiality.”
She added: “If we don’t have a capacity yet to have a compassionate and respectful discussion in the Parliament, then I certainly would be very fearful or concerned about having it more broadly.”
In September 2012, Australian Liberal Party Senator Cory Bernardi said that allowing same-sex couples to marry could lead to sanctioning polygamy and even bestiality.
She belongs to the same political party as former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
His challenger, Liberal Party leader Tony Abbot remains opposed to marriage equality.