Same-sex mar­riage vote in doubt

The Myanmar Times - - World -

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. –

Photo: EPA

Bill Shorten says the vote is both ex­pen­sive and di­vi­sive.

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