Australian parties urged to reach deal on equal marriage as block threat looms

Australia’s political parties have been urged to secure a pathway for same-sex marriage to become law.

The Australian government’s proposals to hold a public vote on the issue are at risk of falling apart, amid opposition from the Greens, Labor, and minor parties – who see the non-binding plebiscite as costly and unnecessary.

But if the plebiscite fails it is unclear if Australia will secure equal marriage at all, as newly-reelected Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull previously ruled out a free vote in Parliament on the issue amid deep divisions in his own party.

If a plebiscite is blocked and Turnbull does not permit a free vote, it could be years before same-sex couples are finally allowed to marry.

Equal marriage activists have this week reached across the political spectrum in order to urge all parties to secure a consensus on a way forward.

Chair of Australian Marriage Equality Alex Greenwich said: “Today we have spoken to MPs from the Government, Labor, The Greens and the Nick Xenophon team about the importance of working together to deliver marriage equality for all LGBT people in Australia.

“This week, we will continue to meet with MPs across all political parties to build a cross-party consensus that achieves equality for LGBT Australians in this parliament.

“LGBT Australians have waited far too long to be able to marry the person they love in this country. Politicians need to remember the real people who are impacted by a lack of action on marriage equality.

“Poll after poll shows there is majority support across the nation for marriage equality and this is represented in the parliament with more supporters than ever before. Marriage Equality takes from no one and makes our society a better, fairer and more inclusive place.

“This is a straightforward change that allows all Australians to be treated equally and ensures our laws reflect our proud values of fairness and equality for all.

“Regardless of the pathway forward, AME will continue to work with its coalition of supporters to deliver this straightforward reform.”

But spokesperson for LGBTI lobby group, just.equal, Ivan Hinton-Teoh, said he was hopeful that blocking a plebiscite wouldn’t block marriage equality for this term of parliament.

He said: “I expect that when a plebiscite is knocked on the head the Government will look again at a free vote, and even if a free vote isn’t allowed only a handful of Liberals need to cross the floor for marriage equality to pass.

“In the absence of a plebiscite I believe there is a parliamentary path forward for marriage equality.”