Reports: Liberal MPs working on new marriage equality bill

New reports have emerged of a marriage equality bill being drafted within the Liberal party as the debate heats up once again during Parliament’s winter break.

Fairfax Media have reported that government backbenchers Trent Zimmerman and Western Australian Senator Dean Smith are collaborating on a bill to legalise marriage equality by parliamentary free vote, rather than by the government’s standing plebiscite policy.

The reports come as Defence Minister Christopher Pyne was heard in leaked audio telling a Liberal conference that the time for marriage equality in Australia “might even be sooner than everyone thinks.”, while Senator Smith revealed to The Huffington Post why he supports a free vote in a recent interview.

Fairfax have also reported that Mr Pyne and Attorney General George Brandis are aware of the bill being created by Smith and Zimmerman. However, Mr Pyne has released a statement announcing that “the government has no plans to alter the policy.”

Appearing on ABC’s Q&A program last night Pyne responded to his leaked comments, telling the audience that members of the Liberal party were allowed to have differing views.

“Everybody in the party room has an outcome on the policy,” he said.

“Obviously there are issues about which we don’t agree and there are conscience issues where we’re not required to have to agree, why would we have to agree?”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has also responded to the buzz surrounding Mr Pyne’s comments, declaring that the plebiscite policy is still the government’s plan.

“Our policy is clear and we have no plans to change it,” Mr Turnbull said.

The Prime Minister added that the lack of marriage equality in Australia was the fault of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and the Labor Party not supporting a national plebiscite.

“I can understand the disappointment of those who are frustrated that the gay marriage issue has not been resolved but the reason it has not been resolved is because of Bill Shorten,” the Prime Minister said.

Mr Shorten dismissed the Prime Minister’s comments, offering to work together toward a free vote.

“I think that’s lashing out a bit there, he knows as well as I do that we both support it,” the Labor leader said yesterday.

“I don’t doubt that Malcolm Turnbull supports marriage equality. We should just have a vote in parliament, I mean we do meet 20 weeks of the year.”

Marriage equality advocates call for consultation on new draft


Australian marriage equality advocates have welcomed the news of Senator Smith and Mr Zimmerman’s joint bill, and call for immediate consultation on the draft legislation.

Veteran LGBTQIA+ advocate Rodney Croome of just.equal says they are concerned about reports that the bill contains exemptions for civil celebrates who don’t want to marry same sex couples.

“It’s great to see Government members moving marriage equality forward, but marriage equality and the caveats attached to it affect all LGBTI people and our families, so it’s vital there is consultation on this bill as soon as possible.”

Mr Croome also noted that the largest LGBTI community survey ever conducted in Australia revealed overwhelming opposition to exemptions for civil celebrants and service providers.

Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) spokesperson Shelley Argent echoed Mr Croome’s comments.

“I congratulate Dean Smith and Trent Zimmerman for drafting legislation and pushing for a free vote, and I’m pleased to see the lobbying and campaigning of so many parents paying off,” Argent said.

“But I also went there to be consultation ASAP. We don’t want to see any back room deals done on an issue that impacts our children so deeply.”

OIP Staff

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