The vexed issue of same-sex marriage hovers in the background as Australians go to the general election voting booths today, with current prime minister Malcolm Turnbull saying he will, if elected, put the issue to a national referendum. Senator Penny Wong However, opposition and Labor party leader Bill Shorten now says such a vote would give undue prominence to hateful, ugly and homophobic views in pre-referendum public debate. In 2013 he told Christian religious leaders that he was comfortable with a referendum but he now says his party will introduce a bill to legalise gay marriage within 100 days if it receives enough votes to form a government. Marriage equality activists, such as Labor senator Penny Wong, are almost universally opposing a public vote on the issue. Wong says it would “license hate speech to those who need little encouragement.” Pre-election day pollsters are predicting a slight upswing in votes for Labour compared to the last election but with the coalition maintaining a comfortable majority. Gay political and legal advocate retired justice of the Australian High Court Michael Kirby has in the past told GayNZ.com Daily News the main stumbling block preventing marriage equality being more fully embraced before now is the tight political race in the deeply conservative and religious outer suburban electorates of most Australian eastern seaboard cities.
Credit: GayNZ.com Daily News staff
First published: Saturday, 2nd July 2016 - 7:36am
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