An Australian Senator has announced that he will quit politics rather than support same-sex marriage.
Australian politics is currently deeply divided on same-sex marriage – as even though a majority of MPs are in favour of equality, Liberal PM Malcolm Turnbull refuses to allow a free Parliamentary vote, instead calling for a public ‘plebiscite’ which could stall weddings until 2018.
Current opposition Labor leader Bill Shorten has championed equal marriage and rallied his party in favour of reform on the issue – but it appears his militantly pro-gay stance has not gone down well with some of his party base.
Labor Senator Joe Bullock announced this week that he will “retire” from politics after just two years in the Senate – because he can’t back his party’s stance on the issue.
Senator Bullock said he cannot continue to back the party after its national conference voted to strongly endorse same-sex marriage – moving from a previous position of allowing each MP to decide his own stance.
He told reporters: “This question has dogged me for six months.
“How can I in good conscience recommend to the people that they vote for a party which is determined to deny its parliamentarians a conscience vote on the homosexual marriage question?
“The simple answer is that I can’t. I cannot do that, given I think it is wrong.
“If the job requires that you do something you think is wrong, the honourable thing to do is resign.”
Mr Shorten told the Sydney Morning Herald: “A man of deeply held faith and convictions, Joe has always held to his views.
“I don’t agree with his views on a number of issues – including marriage equality – but I respect his right to hold those opinions.”
“I respect the decision he’s made to step down tonight, knowing it’s come after a long period of consideration.”
Bullock will leave the Senate on March 17.