A PUBLIC rally held outside the Australian Labor Party (ALP) National Conference on Saturday afternoon demanded the party adopt a binding vote in favour of marriage equality.
Organised by lobby group Equal Love, its campaign manager Anthony Wallace said that by advocating for a conscience vote Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is championing bigotry, despite his support for marriage equality.
[showads ad=MREC]“Why is it that the rule book is thrown out the window when it comes to LGBTI equality,” Wallace said.
“It seems this week Mr Shorten isn’t ready to lead his party. Stop using our inequality to play politics.”
In an an opinion piece on marriage equality for The Age earlier this week, Shorten wrote: “A binding vote would put a handful of Labor MPs in a very difficult position.”
Wallace believes that at the moment, the ALP supporting a binding vote would be symbolic more than anything else.
“If the ALP did have a binding vote right now, we wouldn’t win because of who is in power,” he told those at the rally.
“But it would tell the community that the party is behind the 72 per cent of us who support marriage equality in Australia.”
At the conference, ALP passed a number of amendments to its platform concerning the LGBTI community.
The party’s stances on same-sex parenting adoption and homophobia in schools were both taken into account.
Queensland Labor delegate Nicholas Thompson moved a new amendment to “seek national agreement on the recognition of LGBTI parents” by granting same-sex couples access to reproductive technology, as well as adoption and surrogacy arrangements.
Thompson also moved a new amendment to “support national programs that address homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and intersexphobia” in schools.
Both were successfully carried, with no speakers against either amendment.
Meanwhile, while the ALP’s controversial policy to turn back asylum seekers to Indonesia passed, the motion also stated that Labor would “not detain, process or resettle” LGBTI asylum seekers in countries where there are laws that would make it unsafe for them.
On Sunday afternoon the party’s platform on marriage equality will be discussed, including whether it continue with its current platform of a conscience vote or to adopt a binding vote.
Ron Van Houwelingen and Antony McManus, who have been together for 27 years, implored Shorten to support a binding vote at the rally.
The couple have been unofficially married nine times, but they say they would like their 10th time to be legitimately recognised.
“While love will eventually win,” Van Houwelingen said, “love can’t wait.”
Equal Love secretary Louise O’Shea believes both of Australia’s major political parties need to keep up with the public.
“The vast majority of people are miles ahead of the political establishment,” she said.
“This is a fight between all of us, and all of them.”[showads ad=FOOT]