Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has promised to let the country have a referendum on same-sex marriage if his party is re-elected on July 2.
Turnbull is a well-known proponent of LGBT equality, and believes a referendum is the best way to go in a country that has seen much political upheaval in recent years.
The 61-year-old has been Prime Minister and Liberal party leader since September 2015, when he defeated incumbent Tony Abbott at the September 2015 Liberal leadership ballot. Abbott, like his predecessor Julia Gillard, had remained publicly opposed to marriage equality.
LGBT campaigners believe the swearing-in of Turnbull next month could see long-awaited progress on LGBT rights in Australia. The country, famous for its Mardi Gras festival (which Turnbull attended – the first sitting Australian PM to do so), is one of the last modern Western countries to still be imposing a ban on gay marriages.
Speaking during his appearance at Mardi Gras, Turnbull said: “We have a very clear policy which is that every Australian will get a vote on the subject. I would hope that the plebiscite could be held before the end of the year.”
Turnbull’s opponents in the Labour Party appear to be singing to the same tune, raising hopes that Australia’s next parliamentary term could see long-awaited movement on equality.
Labour leader Bill Shorten said: “In modern Australia, no one should have to justify their sexuality or their love, to anyone else.
“And instead of sitting in judgement, instead of providing a taxpayer-funded platform for homophobia, we will gift every Australian an equal right in respect of love. Nothing less.”