Even if same-sex marriage passes, half of Australians back right to refuse them

A bombshell poll has found half of Australians back the right of service providers to refuse same-sex weddings on the basis of private religious views.

In a poll for Lonergan Research, 49% said they support service workers being able to reject gay couples, such as refusing to bake their wedding cake.

Just 35% thought same-sex couples should have the same access to goods and services, while 15% were unsure.

The poll comes days ahead of the result of Australia’s national postal vote on same-sex marriage.


People who voted No in the postal survey were most likely to back the right of service providers to reject same-sex weddings (76%), closely followed by over 65s.

The poll also found that, even among supporters of equal marriage, 39% agreed with the proposition.

The findings come as politicians argue over how to respond to the marriage postal survey.

Almost 13 million Australians (78.5%) have returned their surveys in the country’s non-binding postal vote on marriage equality.

However the ballot is only advisory, leaving decisions on whether to change marriage law to Australia’s politicians.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull supports same-sex marriage, but many in his right-wing government are opposed to the move.

He has previously said that same-sex couples could be married by the end of the 2018 if voters back Yes, but experts say this is highly unlikely.

Hardline anti-LGBT MPs within the governing Liberal-National Coalition say they will not be conceding – even if the public gives a strong backing for equality.

Instead, they will attempt to table a string of amendments to the eventual marriage bill.

The Nationals and a powerful right-wing faction of the Liberals – including prominent members of Turnbull’s Cabinet – are strongly opposed to equal marriage, while centrists and the youth wing of the Liberals are in favour of reform.

The campaign has also been dogged by homophobic attacks from No campaigners, with hundreds of anti-gay attacks recorded while voting was open.

Despite the attacks, a final poll by Guardian Australia predicts a huge lead for the Yes camp, with final results to be revealed on 15 November.

64% of those who voted backed Yes, according to a Guardian Australia poll, up 4% from similar polls in recent weeks.

31% are believed to have voted No.

All public polls conducted since ballots were first issued have shown Yes in the lead, with support ranging between 55% to 66%.

Tiernan Brady of the Equality Campaign said he believed equality campaigners have “confidently won the argument.

“I think the Australian people have seen through it… I think the public have made their mind up.”