Plebiscite failure puts heat on Turnbull over equal marriage

Malcolm Turnbull’s release of the details of his planned plebiscite on same-sex marriage has only hardened opposition to it.

The Senate is almost certain to stop the plebiscite going ahead, with Nick Xenophon and The Greens already opposed and Labor set to announce its opposition too.

They are right to do so. The plebiscite is simply a delay tactic dreamed up by the right-wing of the Liberal Party. It is already clear there is overwhelming public support for marriage equality.

The fears that a plebiscite campaign would unleash a wave of homophobia are overblown, with the result more likely to isolate the homophobes. But parliament decided to ban same-sex marriage without any public vote, so there is no reason the public needs to vote to reverse this. It is simply an issue of equal rights.

Turnbull wants to give $7.5 million each to fund the yes and no campaigns. This is a concession to opponents of equal marriage, who complain they will find it hard to fundraise for their campaign.

The public should not be funding bigoted and hateful propaganda against equal marriage. And funding the campaigns also takes the cost of the whole unnecessary exercise to at least $175 million.

Even the question “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry” was shaped by the right-wing of the Coalition, and fails to include all LGBTI relationships.

The defeat of the plebiscite plan will put increased pressure on Turnbull. The issue is not going to go away, and as long as he opposes a direct vote on marriage legislation in parliament Turnbull will wear the blame for the delay.

Already Essential poll has found that 53 per cent want parliament to deal with the issue if the Senate blocks the plebiscite.

There needs to be an escalation of protests to build the pressure on parliament to vote for marriage equality. The Liberals are divided and the government’s majority in the lower house is just one seat. A wave of pressure can push Coalition MPs to cross the floor. If Labor changes its policy and binds its MPs to support marriage equality, a bill could pass.

The LGBTI community has already waited long enough.


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