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Referendum on gay marriage in Australia coming soon?
(Blogmensgo, gay blog of October 23, 2015) One month after taking office, the new Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is considering a referendum on gay and lesbian marriage for 2017.
In the following video declaration of October 7, 2015, Malcolm Turnbull is talking about the possibility of a referendum after the federal elections in 2016:
In Australia, the results of a referendum are not legally binding. However, the government and the parliament would most likely accept a people’s vote and enact a law according to such results.
The former Prime Minister Tony Abbott was against gay marriage although he has an out-and-proud lesbian sister. The MPs were supposed to amend the current laws on marriage but the timing and modalities were not very clear.
The next federal elections will be held in the second half of 2016, and the parliament may decide to hold the referendum before or after that date.
The new Prime Minister is likely to prefer a referendum to be held sooner than later but as a political realist, he may well speak out for a date after the elections.
Another possibility is that the Australian parliament may vote for a new law on gay marriage, which will then be validated by a referendum.
The Australian parliament is very divided on gay marriage. The Australian Labor Party (opposition) is for a referendum to take place no more than three months after the federal elections of 2016. The National Party, which is part of the governing coalition, is strongly opposed to such a perspective, based on their religious convictions.
There are even some influential members of Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberal Party who say that legalizing same-sex marriage is contrary to the conservative religious traditions held up by the Australian “multiculturalism.”
If a vote were to be held in parliament today, gay marriage would obtain a small majority in the Senate but would be short of the absolute majority by eight votes in the House of Representatives, according to a poll done by Pink News Australia on October 13, 2015.
Based on a Research Now survey of 1,407 persons published in mid-October 2015, fewer supporters (52%) of the Liberal Party would vote for same-sex marriage than supporters of the Labor Party (71%) or the Green Party (82%).
However, only 46% of supporters of these three “left-wing” parties in the age group 65+ are in favor of same-sex marriage.