Strong support for protections under same-sex marriage
There is overwhelming public support for new legislation to protect freedom of speech, religion and parental rights as well as to prevent persecution of businesses and charities if samesex marriage laws are put to parliament.
Support for the importance of freedom of speech, religious freedom and parental rights in regard to the education of children was over 90 per cent, with 86 per cent of people saying freedom of speech was “extremely or very important” and 69 per cent saying the same for religious freedom.
There was clear majority support for freedoms being enshrined in law, well beyond the protection for ministers of religion proposed in the Dean Smith private member’s bill which is supported by some Liberal MPs and the ALP.
With the expectation of a Yes victory for same-sex marriage next week when the postal survey results are revealed, extra protections for freedom of speech and religion are becoming the focus as politicians from both Yes and No camps prepare for a parliamentary battle.
During the same-sexmarriage ballot, Malcolm Turnbull responded to calls from former prime ministers John Howard and Tony Abbott for protections covering freedom of speech and religion, saying he
believed more strongly in religious freedom than he did in same-sex-marriage and said there would be extra protections.
Alternative bills aimed at protecting the freedoms that have come under attack overseas in jurisdictions where same-sex marriage has been legislated are being drafted, as a bitter internal Coalition fight breaks out over the legislation. Peter Dutton, who voted No, said there would be a “plethora of amendments” to the proposed bill from Liberal senator Dean Smith and that “some will get up and some won’t”. The Immigration Minister said he believed the same-sex marriage bill would be passed by Christmas if the Yes vote succeeded, as he believed it would.
Other conservatives are demanding extra protections for freedoms of speech and religion.
Mr Howard has said these should have been offered by the Yes camp so that people knew what they were voting for.
Labor Senate leader Penny Wong said yesterday she believed conservative politicians were using religious freedom as an excuse to “fight this again in the parliament” and prevent same-sex marriage from happening.
Former deputy prime minister and Nationals leader John Anderson, says in an article in The Weekend Australian that the Liberal Party had to fight for religious freedom and freedom of speech.
“The Liberal Party is in peril of forgetting that there is more to free societies than free markets,” he says. “For Australians this is potentially very serious, for in our celebrated casual way we lack strong protections for freedom of conscience and speech. Senator Smith’s exemptions approach arguably does more harm than good, for it assumes that freedom of conscience is of worth only to professional religionists and not to all Australians.”
The survey of 5000 Australians — conducted for the Coalition for Marriage as the same- sex-marriage postal survey was wound up last weekend — found support for extra legislation outweighed opposition to it by between two to one and three to one.
Legislating parental protections on religious grounds attracted the highest support at 61 per cent, with only 21 per cent against.
The Smith bill protection for religious ministers was backed by 60 per cent and opposed by 22 per cent. Protections for those wanting to speak about marriage being between a man and a woman and protection for religious schools’ curriculum was supported by 59 and 58 per cent respectively and opposed by 24 and 22 per cent.
Support for the right to speak freely about same-sex marriage and continuing religious beliefs was at 57 per cent. The lowest sup- port, although still a majority, was for businesses and faith-based charities to continue to hold their beliefs and practices without penalty or persecution, at 53 per cent opposed by 24 per cent.
Nationals cabinet minister Matt Canavan blasted Liberal MPs he said were trying to undermine the ballot and deny better religious protections. “Whatever the result, millions of Australians are going to vote No. And we don’t live in a tyranny of the majority. Those people deserve to have their views put in our nation’s parliament,” Senator Canavan said.
Coalition for Marriage spokesman Lyle Shelton appealed to Mr Turnbull to ensure there were no changes to private schools’ ability to hold to beliefs about marriage should the Yes case prevail.
‘Whatever the result, millions of Australians are going to vote No. And we don’t live in a tyranny of the majority’ MATT CANAVAN CABINET MINISTER