Australia: Liberal MP predicts Coalition will ‘evolve’ to support marriage equality

PinkNews logo surrounded by illustrated images including a rainbow, unicorn, PN sign and pride flag.

An Australian Liberal MP has said her party’s Coalition, which was considered responsible for the rejection of the country’s equal marriage bill last year, will “evolve in step with society’s views” to become more supportive of same-sex marriage.

The Coalition, composed primarily of the Liberal party and the National Party, is a centre-right alliance which currently heads the opposition in the Australian parliament.

Australia voted to reject equal marriage legislation in September 2012, after Coalition leader and Liberal Party head Tony Abbott refused to allow his MPS to have a free vote, whipping them to oppose the bill.

Penny Wong, Australia’s Finance Minister, said she blamed the Coalition for the bill’s defeat, despite it also being opposed by Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Kelly O’Dwyer, MP for the Division of Higgins in Victoria, spoke in Parliament on Monday about her support for a new equal marriage bill introduced by Greens MP Adam Bandt and independent Andrew Wilkie.

She spoke of how divisions on equal marriage in the Coalition reflect the divisions within her own family, and predicted that the parties would evolve to become more accepting.

Mrs O’Dwyer said: ”I believe that changing the Marriage Act by extending the definition to include same-sex couples will not lessen the status of families. On the contrary, I think that it will strengthen it by building stronger bonds of commitment between two people regardless of gender and sexual orientation.

”There will be some people in my own family who will be disappointed with my personal position on this subject because they have a sincere view that marriage is an institution between a man and a woman. There will be others in my family though, whose own ability to marry is predicated on such a change.”

She said the Liberal Party had yet to discuss whether they would allow a free vote on equal marriage this time, but added: “In due course, I expect our policy on this area to evolve in step with society’s views.”

Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi resigned in September 2012 after causing outrage by comparing same-sex relationships to bestiality.

In July 2012 Liberal MP Malcolm Turnbull attacked the coalition for its unwillingness to legalise marriage for gay couples, saying “The threat to marriage is not the gays. It is a lack of loving commitment.”