Australia’s plans for the public, non binding vote on same-sex marriage has drawn a lot of criticisms from LGBT people and allies alike. Now, the vote (and probably same-sex marriage’s legalisation) have been delayed by roughly three years.
This is thanks to opposition from the Labor party, who have decided to block the non-binding plebiscite on gay marriage, as they feel the matter would be better tackled within parliament. This is no surprise for anyone who has been following this debacle, Labor leader Bill Shorten has made it clear that he thinks that the public vote is an unnecessary expense, and wants marriage equality pushed through by parliament.
It is important to remember that Labor are pro-gay marriage, but they feel the plebiscite would trigger a divisive and potentially damaging public debate, and they aren’t the only ones. Not only this, the cost of the plebiscite is huge, and many feel that it would be a waste of taxpayers’ money.
Mr Shorten said to the press: “This country does not have the right in a plebiscite to pass judgment on the marriages and relationships of some of our fellow Australians. It is not what Australia is about.”
Labor wants to achieve marriage equality in the fastest, cheapest, least harmful way possible. That’s why we want a free vote in Parliament. pic.twitter.com/tv4f2F6Frr
— Bill Shorten (@billshortenmp) October 11, 2016
However, this does not mean the plebiscite is dead. According to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, the enabling bill would be voted on in the Senate after it was passed this week by the House of Representatives.
Turnbull said: “We urge the senators – all the members of the Senate, including the Labor Party – to support that bill and give the people their say.”
Labor’s concerns of the divisiveness of the debate are a common concern among politicians, the public, and LGBT charities. Coupled with the huge costs to the public, and the non-binding nature of the poll, there have been some very loud criticisms. The non-binding nature of the vote means all that money could be spent on nothing, as Conservative lawmakers have said that they will vote against marriage equality, even if a majority of people vote for it.
Most notably, PFLAG (Parents And Friends of Lesbians and Gays in Australia) have openly criticised the plans: “[Marriage equality] needs to be dealt with sensibly in the federal parliament and not reduced to a slanging match in the public square with our children used as political punching bags.”
Parliament wasnt going to be bound by the marriage equality plebiscite: it was just an expensive opinion poll which politicians could ignore
— Julian Burnside (@JulianBurnside) October 11, 2016