As a young Australian in 2016, I am astonished that same-sex marriage is still on the agenda as a key election issue for the upcoming July 2 Federal Election. Once known as a progressive, open-minded nation, Australia appears to be stuck in the dark ages when it comes to same-sex marriage. So just who is holding Australia back on making a decision, the general public or the Federal parliament? Is this another case of Australian politicians not working in the best interests of the people they were elected to represent?
A poll conducted by Crosby/Textor in 2014 on behalf of the Australian Marriage Equality group revealed that 72% of Australians were in favour of same-sex marriage, including 59% of Christians, 67% of Catholics and a staggering 85% of young people. The results were a massive increase from a similar poll conducted in 2004, in which only 38% of respondents were in favour of same-sex marriage.
These results speak for themselves: Australia is progressively becoming more accepting of same-sex marriages, including people of faith.
In 2016, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten declared that if elected, the Labor party would hold a vote on same-sex marriage within 100 days of the election, avoiding the need for a costly plebiscite.
The Labor party also re-launched their Rainbow Labor initiative, in which they campaign for marriage equality as well as fight against discrimination of Australians who identify as LGBTI. At the launch of the campaign, the Labor senator Penny Wong announced plans to appoint a LGBTI Discrimination Commissioner to the Human Rights Commission if elected.
So what is the Liberal party doing about same-sex marriage?
When he first became Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull won fans by saying he supported gay marriage and would vote ‘yes’ if it came to a vote in parliament. He also became the first sitting Prime Minister to attend Sydney Mardi Gras celebrations in March. Since then he has angered supporters by failing to break from his party’s conservative views despite his own personal opinion on the issue.
As someone who was excited by Malcolm Turnbull’s initial promises of reform, I also feel let down by his non-action in regards to marriage equality. If I (a heterosexual with all the marriage rights in the world) feel this way, imagine how the gay and lesbian community of Australia feels.
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