Hopes of holding a referendum on Gay Marriage in Australia were dealt a cruel blow recently when both the anti-gay prime minister of Australia Julia Gillard and leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott have ruled it out.
The Independent MP Tony Wilson had suggested holding a referendum on gay marriage on the same day as the general election in September this year. However Gillard rejected the notion outright, ‘the most appropriate way for the government to consider such an amendment is through a conscience vote in parliament’, she said.
Abbott also rejected the idea of a referendum, saying ‘I think the coming election should be uncomplicated by other matters’.
Oddly enough the only groups strongly in favour of a public vote on legalizing gay marriage are religious groups who oppose a change in the law. The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils’ assistant secretary Keysar Trad said ‘Let’s have a referendum but a referendum of this nature is a little strange if people who don’t believe in God are allowed to tell people who do believe in God about a religious matter. Marriage is a religious union under God, it has always been and should always be. God sets the rules, not parliament.’
Australian Christian Lobby and head of the Christian Democratic Party Reverend Fred Nile, also called for a referendum. ‘I think people should decide the issue,’ Nile said to Fairfax Media. ‘But the question has to be clear. A question like “are you in favor of marriage equality?” will confuse some people. I’m in favor of marriage equality – between a husband and a wife. ‘The question has to be black and white: “Do you agree that homosexuals should be legally married?” I think the majority of people would vote no if the question was clear.’
National convener of Australian Marriage Equality, Rodney Croome, said that the anti-gay groups’ enthusiasm for a referendum shows why he is against the idea. ‘Overseas referenda on marriage equality have been exploited by cashed-up, anti-gay groups to conduct fear and hate campaigns against gay people,’ said Croome in an opinion piece for the Sydney Morning Herald. ‘An Australian referendum would give anti-gay stalwarts such as Fred Nile the biggest megaphone they have ever had.’