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.
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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.