Public vote on equal marriage could be ‘destructive’ to kids of gay couples

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Kids with same-sex parents could be “bombarded” with anti-gay marriage messages, if the public if given a vote on it, an inquiry has heard.

The Australian legal and constitutional affairs committee on Thursday evening heard that children with gay or lesbian parents could be negatively affected if a plebiscite were to take place.

Trevor Khan, of the Australian National Party told the committee: “For teenage LGBTI youth going through the decision of whether to come out and trying to figure out what their sex is, to be bombarded over what would be a period of months of this campaign is potentially extremely destructive.”

In addition, a number of policy experts and legal experts told the committee that the plebiscite was not necessary given that parliament already has the power to constitutionally legislate for equal marriage.

Paula Gerber, Associate Professor and deputy director of the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, said the public debate which would take place during a plebiscite would be much more than if parliament just legislated for it.

“To have a publicly sanctioned campaign that allows vitriol against these two groups of children is likely to cause them significant harm,” Gerber said.

“We saw the sort of dialogue that ensued from the Gayby Baby film that ensued in NSW, and for that to be replicated on a national level is not going to be in the best interest of children and for that reason a plebiscite on the issue should not be held.”


Testimony from both sides of the debate will continue to be heard by the inquiry.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott earlier this week pledged to pass legislation to legalise same-sex marriage, if the public votes in favour in a plebiscite.

Abbott, a staunch opponent of same-sex marriage, has refused to give coalition MPs a free vote on the issue.

His preference is to go ahead with a plebiscite, after the next election.

Some have pointed out that a plebiscite is not binding, but Warren Entsch, a Liberal MP who has introduced a bill for same-sex marriage, said he had received a guarantee from the Prime Minister.