Same-sex pioneer rejects violence
There is a campaign on at the moment, people are working hard, there’s plenty of passion in there ... but it’s never OK to use violence like that STEPHEN DAWSON
ONE half of the first same-sex couple to be married in Australia, during a brief legal window in the ACT, has condemned the alleged assault on former prime minister Tony Abbott in Hobart.
Stephen Dawson, who married partner Dennis Liddelow on the steps of Parliament House in 2013, has called for calm as the nation considers a survey on legalising same-sex marriage.
“There is a campaign on at the moment, people are working hard, there’s plenty of passion in there,” Mr Dawson told the Sunday Tasmanian.
“But it’s never OK to use violence like that.”
Mr Abbott was allegedly headbutted by 38-year-old North Hobart man Astro Labe on Thursday afternoon. Mr Labe has claimed the alleged attack was not related to the debate, despite him wearing a same-sex marriage sticker on his jacket.
Mr Labe had no formal links to the ‘Yes’ campaign, Tasmanians United for Marriage Equality said.
The incident has prompted ‘No’ campaigners to criticise the tactics of the ‘Yes’ cam- paign. Mr Dawson said it was right to denounce any kind of violent act. “It is a big issue,” he said. “Violence should never be used in politics and certainly not in a campaign like this.
“So people are right to express their concerns.”
Mr Dawson, a West Australian Government minister, was in Hobart to help the campaign of Labor candidate for Denison Ella Haddad.
He said he and Mr Liddelow were married in a midnight ceremony after the ACT had passed a law legalising gay marriage.
The marriage was annulled within a week when the High Court determined that the ACT law was unconstitutional.
Mr Dawson said the current debate had at times been steered away from the core question of the right to marry.
“There have been some harsh words said on both sides of the campaign,” he said.
“I’ve been disappointed with some of the things that are in the flyers, not based on truth.
“It’s not about kids, it’s not about schools or anything else.
“It’s literally about equal rights for people.”