Nearly 200 LGBTIQ community leaders in the arts, sport, religion, business and the community sector have publicly called on Federal Parliament to vote down a marriage equality plebiscite, the same day two marriage equality bills were introduced to parliament.
Some of those to sign the declaration include comedian Magda Szubanski (pictured), Olympic gold medalist Matthew Mitcham, actor Simon Burke, opera star Deborah Cheetham, writer Benjamin Law, radio host Julie McCrossin, Uniting Church minister Rev Peter Weeks, comedian Pauline Panstdown (aka Simon Hunt), former Australian Medical Association president Dr Kerryn Phelps and openly gay rugby player Ian Roberts.
“We are proud members of the LGBTIQ community who support marriage equality, but don’t want a damaging plebiscite to get us there,” the declaration reads.
“We know a plebiscite will ruin lives and cause great distress for our community. There is also a significant risk that a “yes” vote will not lead directly to marriage equality because a plebiscite is not binding. We call on the parliament to reject the idea of a plebiscite and instead legislate for marriage equality now.”
The list and declaration, organised by Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), Rainbow Families and just.equal, were published as advertisements today in a Canberra newspaper and online news sites.
PFLAG spokesperson Sharyn Faulkner said the country’s LGBTIQ leaders are united in their opposition to a plebiscite and in their call for parliament to vote it down.
“This reflects the views of everyday LGBTIQ Australians who overwhelmingly oppose a plebiscite under any circumstances according to a recent survey that was the largest of its kind ever conducted,” she said.
“We call on the Senate, and particularly the Labor Party, to listen to the LGBTIQ community and vote against a plebiscite.”
Two marriage equality bills were introduced to the House of Representatives on Monday, one by Opposition leader Bill Shorten and the other by Greens MP Adam Bandt, with both politicians calling for a free vote in the parliament.
Shorten told parliament the plebiscite risked subjecting LGBTIQ Australians “to a well-organised, well-funded campaign of vitriol and prejudice.”
“The idea of young people, perhaps yet to come out, seeing the legitimacy of their identity debated on the national stage is not an ideal inflicted on any citizen when we have a better path,” he said.
“Let me be as blunt as possible: a ‘no’ campaign would be an emotional torment for gay teenagers, and if one child commits suicide over the plebiscite, then that is one too many.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told parliament he was committed to a fair plebiscite.
“At the end of the day whichever side is unsuccessful will nonetheless be able to say we had a fair go, it was a fair contest, a fair question, a fair process… and we, the parliament, then respect it,” he said.
Australian Marriage Equality and activist GetUp! also delivered to parliament a petition signed by over 50,000 people against the plebiscite.
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