A conservative Anglican bishop from Western Australia is threatening to abandon the registration of marriages if the postal survey returns a “yes” vote and there “aren’t enough” religious protections.
Bishop of North West Australia Gary Nelson said that if religious protections fell short, the diocese would have to withdraw from providing all marriage approvals.
He said details of the same-sex marriage legislation should have been released by the government before the survey began.
“If we are in a situation where there isn’t enough religious exemptions regarding marrying same-sex people, then we’d have to pull out from being celebrants, so just withdraw all the approvals for everyone,” Bishop Nelson told The West Australian newspaper.
“Even if we withdrew licences and a same-sex couple came in saying, ‘We want to use your building’, and we say no, will we have a right to say no to a use of our building?
“All of those things are still unclear.”
In September, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull promised “extensive” protections for religious freedom that would be decided by the parliament as a whole, rather than the government.
“Religious freedom is fundamental and it will be protected in any bill that emerges from this parliament,” he said.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten agreed, saying last month: “Labor will not support legislation which impinges upon religious freedom in this country.”
Earlier this week, the Sydney Anglican diocese’s $1 million donation to the “no” campaign was met with a mixed response from Anglican reverends around the country.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics is strongly encouraging all voters to post their survey forms by October 27, before the deadline on November 7.
The result will be announced on November 15.