Australia really is a nation divided on same sex marriage according to an SBS news poll.
The survey found 38 percent of the general community are in favour of legalising same-sex marriage, while 44 percent are against it. Eighteen percent said they were uncommitted on the issue.
The poll, conducted by SBS World News, surveyed 1,200 adults from all states in both country and city areas. They were asked: Are you in favour or against same-sex couples being given the same rights to marry as couples consisting of a man and a woman?
Younger Australians and women were much more likely to support gay marriage.
The majority (55 percent) of respondents aged between 18 and 34 were in favour of it, while support amongst 35- to 49-year-olds was 43 percent. Only 23 percent of those aged 50 and over agreed with it.
Forty-seven percent of women said they were in favour of it compared to 29 percent of males.
Given how close the results are, including the large number of people who are uncommitted, the prime minister does not have a mandate to legislate to expressly ban same-sex marriage, co-convenor of the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby Rob McGrory said. The Howard government should leave the current common law definition of marriage alone.
Federal attorney-general Philip Ruddock told SBS the government wasn’t interested in the poll’s results.
I don’t think polling is at all relevant to the decisions the government has to make, he said.
Gay issues continued to cause a stir around the world this week. Following a decision by the Canadian Anglican church to affirm the integrity and sanctity of committed same-sex relationships, conservative archbishops representing more than half of the world’s Anglicans called for the Canadian Church to be expelled.
Outraged church leaders in Africa, Asia and South America said the term sanctity put same-sex unions on a par with marriage and pre-empted debate on their doctrinal status.
A statement on behalf of 22 Global South primates said: The use of the word -˜sanctity’ means that the whole issue has already been decided, and that is devastating.
It’s saying that God has agreed to bless same-sex unions, as the word carries the implication that this isn’t just right, but that this is God’s will, and he has set it apart for the human race.
Meanwhile in France, the government has started proceedings to annul the marriage of two men who tied the knot last weekend. St?ane Chapin and Bertrand Charpentier were married by the mayor of B?es, No?Mam?, despite the French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin saying the union cannot be called a marriage.
An attorney for the married couple said he would take the matter to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.