Gillard, who took to the stage for the public Q&A-style session hosted by social commentator Anne Summers only a day after her 52nd birthday, was faced with a six-year old boy who asked her: “How come you didn’t let gay people get married?”
The question, which was greeted with loud cheers and applause from the audience, seemed to leave Gillard somewhat taken aback by the forthrightness of her young questioner.
Gillard defended her views on marriage equality on the grounds that it conflicted with her feminist ideals and what she believed marriage signified.
“That’s a politician in the making right there, I think,” she said in response. “I do understand that the position I took on gay marriage perplexed many people, given – gay marriage perplexed many people given who I am and so many of my beliefs.
“I mean, we weren’t talking about gay marriage [while at university]. Indeed as women, as feminists, we were critiquing marriage.
“If someone had said to me as a 20-year-old, ‘What about you get into a white dress to symbolise virginity and you get your father to walk you down an aisle and give you away to a man who is waiting at the end of the aisle,’ I would have looked with puzzlement like, ‘What on earth would I do that for?’,” she said to applause.
Continuing on, Gillard said she was aware and “conscious” that perhaps her views and similar ones may have dated.
“Maybe the way in which people interpret marriage now is different to the kinds of interpretations I had,” she said.
“I think that marriage in our society could play its traditional role and we could come up with other institutions which value partnerships, value love, value lifetime commitment. I have a valuable lifetime commitment and haven’t felt the need at any point to make that into a marriage.”
Finishing off her thoughts on the issue, Gillard said marriage equality and its chances of being introduced in the near future was not only dependent on her views but those of the entire parliament.
“When will gay marriage be law in Australia? Well, it won’t be about what I think. Even if I was still in Parliament it wouldn’t be about what I thought,” she said.
“It would be about what every Member of Parliament thought, and the next really big thing that has to happen for gay marriage to be seriously considered by the Federal Parliament is for there to be a conscience vote on all sides of politics and I hope that comes.”
Watch the question and Gillard’s answer here:
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