Q&A: 78er asks Julia Gillard why she didn’t support marriage equality

This week’s episode of ABC’s panel discussion program Q&A was a special edition, featuring former Prime Minister Julia Gillard as the sole guest.

Hosted by Hamish Macdonald, the program fielded questions from the audience that spanned Gillard’s career, with the former PM speaking about her famous misogyny speech, gender, COVID-19, Tony Abbott and more.

One of the audience members who had a question for the former Labor leader was Kate Rowe, a 78er who participated in the original 1978 Sydney march and following riots that ignited the LGBTIQ+ rights movement in Australia and is now honoured every year with the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras.

“I was arrested, I was bashed, I was jailed, and I was fighting for my rights as a lesbian to be who I am,” Rowe told Gillard.

“Whilst I did and I still do admire and respect you for your time as Prime Minister and a member of Parliament, it still puzzles me why you chose not to support same-sex marriage.”

“It may have saved a lot of us in the LGBTQI community much abuse and heartache with the postal survey had you chosen to be more supportive at your time in office.”

“Do you hold the same view now that a marriage is between a man and a woman?” Rowe asked.

Former PM Gillard answers by saying she voted yes in the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey.

“When the same-sex marriage discussions were happening within the Labor Party, so you would, I think, recall originally the Labor Party at one national conference said that it was going to go for civil unions, and then at a national conference after that then endorsed same-sex marriage,” Gillard begins.

“I thought there was a discussion to be had around the status of religious marriage in our society, and whether that was going to be the kind of dominant way we looked at marriage. So whether we could have changed the terms of the discussion so that what the law did was different from the traditional concept of marriage.”

“I know that there are some people who think well if I’d brought same-sex marriage legislation into the Parliament, maybe we would have had same-sex marriage earlier? My political judgement is that wouldn’t have happened.”

Watch the full exchange below.

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