Marriage equality advocates call for decisions over plebiscite

Alex Greenwich

Advocates for marriage equality have called on the federal government to drop it’s plan for an expensive national plebiscite and deal with the issue via a parliamentary vote.

The calls come as reports suggest that plebiscite will not be scheduled until early 2017.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s office has told the media that the government has received advice from the Australian Electoral Commission arguing that holding the plebiscite before the end of the year would not be possible.

Despite receiving the advice earlier this week the government has said it is yet to make any decisions about the plebiscite.

Kelly O’Dwyer, the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, has told the ABC’s ‘Insiders’ program this morning that the government has made no decision on the timing of a plebiscite for marriage equality or the wording of the question. O’Dwyer said the issue would be considered by cabinet in the future.

Australian Marriage Equality (AME) today said Australians are ready to celebrate marriage equality and want the parliament to deliver the reform quickly and fairly.

The organisation’s chair Alex Greenwich (pictured) said it was time the government provided a clear pathway for marriage equality by locking in the dates, questions and funding arrangements for the process.

“It’s time gay and lesbian Australians were treated with the same dignity and respect as their friends, family members and colleagues”, Greenwich said.

“We did not ask for a plebiscite, but if one is being imposed its vital the question, process, and timing is fair and delivered in consultation with the LGBTI community and all political parties.

“This is a simple change that ensures every Australian has the same aspirations and opportunities for their future.

“One immediate way the government can provide confidence in the process is by listening to the 10,000 Australians who have signed our petition to ensure no public funding is provided to either campaign, and guarantee the opponent’s campaign tactics won’t be fuelled by tax payer dollars.


The Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) have called for the plebiscite to be dropped all together.

Shelly Argent, the organisation’s national spokesperson said the mixed messages being delivered on the timing and question of the plebiscite showed that the government was in disarray over the issue.

PFLAG said the government remained confused and divided over the issue and a free vote in parliament was the best was to move the issue forward.

“Our gay sons and lesbian daughters have endured twelve months of confusion, lack of progress, absence of detail and understandable anxiety about a plebiscite.” Argent said.

“The plebiscite has proven to be just what Tony Abbott intended, a device for delaying and frustrating marriage equality.”

“The Government must stop acting like cowards and allow a free vote in parliament so marriage equality can pass and the nation can move on.”

Mrs Argent said a plebiscite is unnecessary and is being held in the interests of Malcolm Turnbull, not the LGBTI community.

“A plebiscite will be an unnecessary, costly, divisive, and damaging public opinion poll that politicians can simply ignore if it doesn’t suit  them.”

“The plebiscite is all about what’s best for Malcolm Turnbull and the Coalition Government, nor what’s in the best interests of LGBTI Australians.”

OIP Staff

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