Australia’s Green Party will try and block a “harmful” public vote on same-sex marriage, it has confirmed.
The country’s right-wing Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has repeatedly blocked free Parliamentary votes on equal marriage, instead making plans to take the issue to the public in a non-binding plebiscite (public vote) to avoid a rift with his own conservative anti-LGBT MPs.
Having already agreed to stall the issue until after last month’s federal election, Turnbull – who now holds a wafer-thin majority – has promised to bring forward the plebiscite plan as soon as possible.
But the proposal has come under fire from opposition parties, who see it as costly measure inviting homophobic debate, which is highly unlikely to resolve the government’s impasse anyway due to its non-binding and loosely-worded nature.
This week, the Green Party announced it will join with the Nick Xenophon party in order to block the law.
The party says it has listened to LGBT members who “overwhelmingly” came out against the proposal, calling for a free vote in Parliament.
Greens leader Richard Di Natale said: “It’s expensive and we just don’t think you should be putting issues of fundamental human rights to a popular vote.
“That’s what we’re elected to do as parliamentarians. It should be settled in the parliament.”
If the main opposition Labor Party choose to join the Greens and rebels in seeking to block the measure, the government benches could see a defeat on the issue.
Spokesperson for LGBTI lobbying group just.equal, Ivan Hinton-Teoh, said: “I congratulate the Greens on prioritising the aspirations and interests of the LGBTI community by opposing a marriage equality plebiscite.”
“Earlier this month the largest LGBTI community survey of its kind ever conducted found the LGBTI community is united against a plebiscite with opposition running at 85%.”
“A key concern of LGBTI Australians is that a plebiscite will be a platform for hate and that it will not actually lead directly to marriage equality.”
“I call on Labor and cross bench senators to follow the Greens’ lead so that a plebiscite is blocked and we can have a free vote in Parliament instead.”
Meanwhile, Mr Hinton-Teoh dismissed claims by Liberal MP, Trevor Evans, that LGBTI community representatives are more concerned with who takes credit for marriage equality than getting it done.
“Our concern is not which party achieves marriage equality but only to avoid plebiscite and have a free vote instead.”
“We would be over the moon if the Coalition Government allowed a free vote and marriage equality was achieved under its watch.”