Referendum on Same-sex Marriage in Australia to be Held in 2017 Only?

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Referendum on Same-sex Marriage in Australia to be Held in 2017 Only?

(Blogmensgo, gay blog of August 23, 2016) Although Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and other influential ministers had promised a referendum on gay marriage for 2016, there have now been rumors (according to dailytelegraph.com.au, fee-based website) that this referendum will be moved to 2017. An official confirmation is expected after a government coalition meeting on September 13.

Referendum on same-sex marriage in Australia…

According to the rumors, the referendum will ask the following question:

Do you approve of a law to permit people of the same sex to marry?
(Sind Sie für ein Gesetz, das gleichgeschlechtlichen Menschen die Eheschließung erlaubt?)

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) strongly recommended the government in mid-August to not hold the referendum in 2016. Presumably, the delay is based on the high cost of such a referendum, which would come with a price tag of about 160 million Australian dollars (about 108 million euros), not counting any campaign costs.

Malcolm Turnbull

Malcolm Turnbull. Putting off the referendum? ©malcolmturnbull.com.au.

For a variety of reasons, the Australian states are not happy about rescheduling the referendum to 2017.

… certainly not in 2016 anymore

A government speaker said that neither the wording of the question nor the date of the referendum have been fixed so far.

During an interview on August 19, 2016, Malcolm Turnbull confirmed his intention to hold the referendum but did not give any date:

We obviously have to hold a plebiscite on same-sex marriage.

In another interview the same day, he emphasized that he wants to launch a legislative initiative “during the course of the year.”

Gay marriage supporters are against a referendum

There are some influential voices against a referendum on this matter, such as Michael Kirby, a former High Court judge who has been openly gay since 1998. He expects such a referendum to bring a lot of homophobic hatred into the political debate, and he feels that by holding a referendum, the legislator would be shirking its very own responsibility.

The High Court of Australia ruled that same-sex marriage is not the individual affair of each state but has to be decided by the Australian federal parliament.

Apparently, such a referendum would be the first about a constitutional amendment. Of 43 referendums since 1909, the people accepted only 8.

Based on a constitutional amendment of 2004, same-sex marriages are forbidden in Australia, and same-sex marriages contracted abroad are not recognized. The High Court cancelled all same-sex marriages concluded in Canberra in the end of 2013.

Frank-S / MensGo
Main source: Reuters of August 21, 2016
Other sources: news.com.au and abc.net.au of August 22, 2016

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