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LGBT people who are struggling with the equal marriage debate should ‘grow a spine’ says Australian politician

Katharine Swindells September 11, 2017
Equal marriage survey form from the Australian Bureau of Statistics

Equal marriage survey form from the Australian Bureau of Statistics

Addressing concerns that the heated national debate on equal marriage could be having a negative impact on LGBT people, former Resources Minister Matthew Canavan told Sky News that Australians should “grow a spine and grow up”.

His response came after the National Mental Health Commission said that the debate had caused an increase in discrimination against LGBT people.

“LGBTIQ people have been experiencing damaging behaviour in their workplaces, communities and in social and traditional media,” Alan Fels, Co-chair of the NMHC, said.

Related: Australia marriage equality rally draws record crowds ahead of postal vote

Fels said the debate had seen “unacceptable sentiments.”

However Canavan said “the debate hasn’t been that bad,” then turned the point back onto the ‘Yes’ campaigners.

“Indeed if there’s any complaints to be had it’s from those who advocate “yes” — some of the vile tweets and statement we’ve had from “yes” campaigners. But I can ignore that.”

He called for those expressing concerns to “stop being delicate little flowers and have a proper debate.”

In a statement, Australian Labor Party politicians Julie Collins and Terri Butler said that Canavan’s attitude was “callous and dangerous and shows an appalling lack of judgement.”

Sydney marriage march
Supporters hold placards as they attend a same-sex marriage rally in Sydney on September 10, 2017. (Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

The campaign is currently at a critical point, as the national survey asking Australians to state their views on same-sex marriage has just begun.

Related: Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull backs equal marriage ‘because I’m a conservative’

Forms will begin being posted on Tuesday morning, with over 16 million people being eligible to vote.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce lashed out against campaigners, saying “get out of my face” on the ABC’s Radio National Breakfast programme on Monday morning.

“I can’t stand these people who stand at the corner and start yelling at you about what your views are on a very personal issue. Get out of my face, leave me alone, I’ll make the decision myself,” Joyce said.

He said that he personally does not believe in same-sex marriage, but that he would not go against the outcome of the survey.

“The whole point about [the postal survey] is that it is a personal vote. It’s your vote, not my vote. Your view, not my view,” he said.

“Whatever that view is, I will not vote against the Australian people.”

Watch Canavan’s Sky News interview here.

More: Australia, Australia, Barnaby Joyce, equal marriage, marriage, matthew canavan, same sex marriage, ssm

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