Same-sex marriage vote in doubt
AUSTRALIA’S plan to hold a national vote on same-sex marriage appeared doomed yesterday after the opposition Labor Party vowed to block the poll it said would spark divisive debate.
Debate on gay marriage in Australia has gone on for more than a decade and conservative Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull planned to resolve the issue via a plebiscite on February 11.
But Labor leader Bill Shorten said not only was the proposed plebiscite of 15 million voters expensive and divisive, but could be harmful to those in same-sex relationships and their families by exposing them to questions over the “integrity” of their unions.
“This country does not have the right in a plebiscite to pass judgement on the marriages and relationships of some of our fellow Australians,” Mr Shorten told a news conference in Canberra.
“It is not what Australia is about. We could make marriage equality a reality today by having a free vote in parliament.”
Despite strong popular support for marriage equality, Australia is seen as lagging behind other nations which allow homosexual couples the right to wed.
Same-sex couples can have civil unions or register their relationships in most states across Australia, but the government does not consider them married under national law.
Mr Turnbull had argued that a plebiscite, costing some A$170 million (US$128.8 million), would allow all Australians to express their view. –
Bill Shorten says the vote is both expensive and divisive.