© Neil Spark

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Equal rights

September 8, 2017



The World’s Most Expensive Opinion Poll is going ahead now Australia’s High Court has decided it’s constitutional. 


Australians will receive a ballot in the postal mail that will ask: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?” The key word here is “allow”. In other words, should same-sex couples have the same right to marry as opposite sex couples? If the answer is “no”, the voter doesn’t support equal rights. It’s not about anything else, despite what equal rights opponents like the former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott wants us to believe.


His argument: “Obviously I’ll be voting no – but in the end this is not about the politicians, it’s about the people. It’s about your view. And I say to you, if you don’t like same-sex marriage, vote no. If you’re worried about religious freedom, and freedom of speech, vote no. If you don’t like political correctness, vote no – because voting no will help to stop political correctness in its tracks.”


Australians will be hearing a lot about the threat posed by “elites”, the political correctness-gone-mad brigade and the threat to “our way of life”. And they’ll be subjected to this barrage because the religious right control the Federal Government’s agenda. The price of that is $122 million. Regardless of the result, “no” proponents such as Tasmanian Liberal Senator Eric Abetz has said he won’t be bound by it.


What of the result? It’s not like a referendum where a majority of voters in a majority of states are needed for a proposal to be approved. What response rate will be acceptable? Fifty percent of voters? Sixty percent? Seventy-five percent? What does the margin have to be for the proposal to be approved: fifty-one percent? Sixty percent? Eighty percent?


As Peter Rose, the editor of Australian Book Review, wrote in the magazine’s latest edition, “the marriage debate has been one of the most unseemly episodes in Australia’s recent history”.


If the “no” vote prevails a section of the population will continue to be denied the same rights as others, the hope for reform will be dealt another blow and Australia’s international reputation will further suffer. We used to be known as a fair, equitable and respectful society.

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