Victorian Premier begs Australian PM to avoid ‘harmful’ public vote on same-sex marriage
The pro-LGBT Premier of Victoria has asked the Australian PM to think again about “damaging” plans to hold a public plebiscite on equal marriage.
The country’s right-wing PM Malcolm Turnbull has repeatedly blocked free Parliamentary votes on equal marriage, instead making plans to take the issue to the public in a plebiscite (public vote) to avoid a rift with his own conservative anti-LGBT MPs.
Having already agreed to stall the issue until after this month’s federal election, Turnbull – who pulled off a narrow victory in the election but holds a wafer-thin majority- promised this week to bring forward the plebiscite plan as soon as possible, to be held either this year or early next year.
But the move is contentious due to the lack of real public opposition to equal marriage, with every major poll on the issue finding the plebiscite result a foregone conclusion.
Members of the opposition Labor Party have suggested the plebiscite is a costly stalling tactic from Turnbull’s Coalition, bringing a human rights issue to a public vote for political reasons.
In a letter to Turnbull today, the Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews urged him to just allow Parliament to vote on equal marriage.
He wrote: “I write about your plan to hold a national plebiscite on marriage equality — a harmful public vote on whether or not a group of Australians should be considered equal under the law
“Despite members of your government publicly stating that, regardless of the plebiscite result, they will vote against marriage equality in the Parliament, you are proposing to spend $160 million of taxpayers’ money on what amounts to the nation’s most expensive opinion poll.
“This plebiscite will hurt people.
“It will legitimise a hateful debate which will subject LGBTI Australians to publicly funded slurs and denigration, further alienating a proud community who have fought so hard against prejudice for so long.
“You and I have both had the privilege of standing in front of our loved ones and committing ourselves for life to another person, and both of us were afforded full legal recognition when we did so.
“At the time I did not consider it unusual that I should have the legal right to marry Catherine. I realise now how precious that right is, because I’m witnessing so many people forced to fight just to be allowed to do what I did – marry the person they love.
“In Victoria, equality is not negotiable.
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“On behalf of my state, I urge you to accept there is no need for a costly and divisive plebiscite and agree to produce a bipartisan Bill to amend the Marriage Act within the next 100 days.”
“By granting government members a free vote, you can finally stand up to those in your party room who do not represent a fair and modern country.
“Marriage equality means so much to so many people. On the cusp of its realisation, it is wrong for you to impose one last hurdle – one final insult.
“Hundreds of thousands of Australians are currently discriminated against under Australian law. To them and their families, this plebiscite is not an opportunity for reform, but an opportunity for rejection.
“After a botched referendum in 1999, you accused a conservative Prime Minister of breaking the nation’s heart. If you fumble at this crucial moment, history will only remember you for the same thing.”
Andrews won a special place in the hearts of Australia’s LGBT community earlier this year with an emotional apology for the state’s historic anti-LGBT laws.