Equality advocates have welcomed reports that supporters of marriage equality in the Liberal Party will push for a free vote so the reform can pass, adding the new move vindicates their opposition to a plebiscite on the issue.
Fairfax media has reported that supporters of marriage equality in the Coalition plan to push for a free vote within coming weeks with consideration being given to exemptions allowing same-sex couples to be refused wedding services.
“I thank the Liberal members who are reportedly intent on moving marriage equality forward,” said Long-term marriage equality advocate, Rodney Croome. “A free vote is consistent with the Liberal Party’s core principle of individual freedom and we urge Liberal members to uphold this principle regardless of what they think about marriage equality.”
“Last year we were repeatedly told by Government representatives it would be a plebiscite or nothing, but we said there would be a parliamentary path forward should the plebiscite be voted down, and it seems we were right. The challenge now is for LGBTI Australians and our allies to maintain the pressure by constantly reminding the Coalition it will lose votes at the next election if it fails to pass marriage equality soon.”
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays national spokesperson, Shelley Argent, urged supporters of marriage equality to make their views known through the Make It Law website. “When a plebiscite was voted down last year we immediately moved to Plan B, lobbying Coalition members who support marriage equality to push harder for a free vote and that is what is now happening,” said Argent.
“I urge all supporters of marriage equality to keep the pressure up by emailing Coalition members, and Labor members who have yet to support reform, through the Make It Law website. They need to know we are watching them and that they can’t afford to let this go on.”
Just.equal spokesperson, Ivan Hinton-Teoh, said freedom of religion is already protected and there is no need for exemptions that would allow same-sex couples to be refused wedding services.
“The cross-party bill that was introduced in 2015, and which had the support of Liberal MPs, protected religious freedom by allowing religious marriage celebrants the right not to marry same-sex couples,” said Hinton-Teoh. “That bill did not include exemptions for civil celebrants and businesses and this bill shouldn’t either. We will not accept an old form of discrimination being swapped for a new one.”
For more information, visit: www.makeitlaw.com.au for details.