Gay rights advocate Rodney Croome has reluctantly quit as national director of Australian Marriage Equality (AME) to focus specifically on stopping the proposed plebiscite and enabling a free vote in parliament.
Mr Croome, who founded AME in 2004, announced his departure in an opinion piece for Guardian Australia, accusing those who believe a plebiscite is inevitable of “lacking political imagination”.
He fears vulnerable LGBTI people would be harmed by a plebiscite, including possible suicides.
“If there is a plebiscite, and when the first gay kid dies at his own hand because of the hate and fear-mongering, I have to be able to look at myself in the mirror and know I did everything I could to stop it … everything,” he said.
“Sadly, that includes giving up my role at Australian Marriage Equality.”
Mr Croome (pictured) told The Guardian his work against the plebiscite put AME in an impossible position as it was tasked with negotiating the best possible terms for a plebiscite should one occur.
He said he “genuinely believes a plebiscite can be stopped and marriage equality can be passed through parliament”.
“This is based on my near 30-year experience of advocating for LGBTI human rights, and on my conversations with Liberals and Nationals who support marriage equality.”
Mr Croome has previously argued that as the numbers stand in parliament, at least 81 Lower House MPs are in favour of marriage equality, enough to pass it into law if a free vote were allowed.
“We only need a four or five of them to swing behind a bill and the issue that has dogged Australian politics for years will finally be over,” he said.