Australia’s ruling party has rejected a push to allow lawmakers to decide on whether gay marriage should be legalised.
In 2016, the Liberal Party was re-elected with a promise that they would let voters decide on same-sex marriage through a popular vote. However, the vote was blocked, and the result could have technically been ignored by lawmakers anyway.
Since then, a gay marriage bill has been drafted with hopes that it could be passed without a plebiscite (public vote). However, during a private meeting on Monday, it was once again decided that the issue should be left up to the masses.
Opinion polls in Australia have shown time and time again that the country supports the introduction of same-sex marriage, but due to opposition from conservative politicians, no government has succeeded in passing legislation.
While the ruling party wants the Australian people to vote on same-sex marriage, the Labour party wants legislation to be introduced through parliament, because they believe a public vote would be “expensive” and “traumatic” for the LGBT+ community.
“A postal vote would be unrepresentative of the voting population, nonbinding on politicians and have so little legitimacy it would resolve nothing,” said campaigners.
“A voluntary postal vote would favour the no case because young voters, who are more likely to support marriage equality, are less likely to return their ballot papers.”
Gay activist Anna Brown said she had legal advice that the government could not conduct a postal plebiscite without Senate approval. She said her advocacy group The Equality Campaign would seek a High Court injunction to prevent any postal plebiscite.
“The government needs to think very carefully before it expends up to AU$100 million of taxpayer dollars when it could resolve this issue in Parliament as soon as this week,” she said.