An Australian senator who has declared she will vote against equal marriage was confronted by her own gay brother, during a Q&A this week.
The country’s PM Malcolm Turnbull has avoided a free Parliamentary vote on equal marriage, instead making plans to take the issue to the public in a non-binding plebiscite to avoid a rift with his own ultra-conservative MPs and Senators.
National senator Bridget McKenzie, a member of Mr Turnbull’s Coalition, previously said she opposes equal marriage and would vote against it even if the public vote in favour, saying: “I vote with my conscience on every issue and my conscience on this matter is that I would vote against same-sex marriage.”
That clearly didn’t go down well in her own household, as in a ABC Q&A debate this week, McKenzie was confronted by her own brother, Alastair McKenzie.
Mr McKenzie, who is gay himself, asked his sister in a video message: “Given the majority of parliamentarians and Australians now support marriage equality, is a $160 million plebiscite necessary, and what impact do you think the debate will have on the emotional wellbeing of gays and lesbians like me?”
— ABC Q&A (@QandA) September 12, 2016
The senator did not appear to appreciate the intervention of her brother, giving an icy-cold reply.
She said: “I think it will only be damaging if all of us as Australians choose to actually not respect each other’s views in this particular debate. We took a plebiscite too the people.
“I have a conscience view on this issue, that the definition of marriage is between a man and a woman.
“Polls would suggest I am in a minority… I think there is tension for MPs like myself on both sides of the aisle between our desire to respect the will of the Australian people and our conscience as a representative democracy.”
She did not acknowledge her brother in he reply.
But Greens senator Larissa Waters insisted: “We all know that the plebiscite is going to be incredibly damaging for LGBTQI Australians, and clearly your brother feels that it will be so for him.
“I think we should listen to that perspective. The vast majority of Australians support marriage equality.
“We legislate stuff all the time, it’s kind of our job as Parliamentarians… we could get it done tomorrow! It’s what the Parliament does!”
Earlier today it was revealed that the Australian government will hand $7.5 million of funding to anti-LGBT activists to run a ‘No’ campaign, under the draft plebiscite bill.
The country’s former PM Tony Abbott, a strong opponent of LGBT rights, was regularly taken to task by his gay sister during his time in power.