North Queensland Liberal MP Warren Entsch will not support same-sex marriage legislation when it’s introduced into federal Parliament next year.
The Leichhardt MP, who this year launched the Parliamentary Friends of LGBTIs with Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and Labor’s Graham Perrett, has been a long-standing parliamentary ally of the community, but said that he would not support a change to the Marriage Act or a conscience vote on the issue.
“I’ve been consistent all the way through on this one. There are strong arguments in relation to marriage where you’ll court emotion and controversy,” Entsch told the Star Observer.
“The major issues that I’m wanting to pursue are those of the transgender and intersex community, and that’s the focus.”
“It’s always about the gay and lesbian community and never about the transgender and intersex community. We have to give them a priorty that hasn’t been there before.”
In the lead up to the launch of the parliamentary friendship group in September, Entsch was adamant that it would only look at issues other than same-sex marriage. He said his success in lobbying the Liberal party room to remove discrimination in the past has been due to separating marriage from other issues.
“I said I wouldn’t use my support for change as a Trojan horse for marriage and it was because I made that commitment that the first person who stood up in the party room to support me was Barnaby Joyce,” he said.
“It was the same reason that Bill Heffernan turned up to the Parliamentary Friends launch.”
When asked whether he personally didn’t believe in same-sex marriage aside from issues of division and distraction, Entsch would not be drawn.
“I’m not getting engaged [in same-sex marriage] because of all these other issues. Have a look at the Labor conference, how many issues were raised there about the gender diverse community?” he said.
“There are another group of poor buggers out there that have been completely ignored and I won’t be seen to support [marriage] because then I think I’m breaking my word with a lot of people.”
Entsch said that while he wouldn’t support marriage equality legislation he still strongly supports civil unions.
“I have no hesitation in supporting a national civil union scheme, in fact I offered to sponsor a [civil union] bill earlier in the year and the marriage coalition asked me not to,” he admitted.