Melbourne Ports Labor MP Michael Danby has spoken out in favour of gay marriage — after the federal election.
Danby told Southern Star that while he supported “equality under the law”, he is bound by party policy on the issue.
“I would regard myself as having shifted but slowly moved from a realisation that a civil union was perhaps not adequate in addressing people’s concerns of discriminations and desire for equality,” he said.
“I’ll speak with the party [on gay marriage], I’m in the same boat and there’ll be no promises [before the election] of changing the law.
“Rather, after the election, I’ll be saying that same-sex couples or opposite-sex couples should be treated equally in Australian law.”
Danby said he also believes the Labor Party should offer MPs a conscience vote in Parliament if legislation to amend the Marriage Act arises.
“Perhaps that’s appropriate because we have it on other moral issues. Why not have it on this,” he said.
Danby rejected criticisms the Labor Party is stonewalling progress on GLBT rights with its opposition to same-sex marriage and its inaction on moving to include sexuality and gender identity in federal anti-discrimination law.
“I don’t think the Labor Party has turned its back on the gay community,” Danby said.
“I think we’ve had a period of reform and people have comfortably settled back and I think there’s been a change in the gay community too where [gay marriage] has become a much stronger issue that it was previously.
“There’s often a lag effect in politics between changes in community attitudes and understanding of people in politics who have to deal with a lot of different issues that may not necessarily be at the front of their mind.”
Danby said he believes the GLBT community needs to continue to educate the broader community and said he would like to see a public review to consult the public before changing anti-discrimination legislation.
Danby currently holds Melbourne Ports — which includes St Kilda, Elwood, Balaclava and Albert Park — by a margin of 7.2 percent.
He will run against openly gay Liberal candidate Kevin Ekendahl, Greens candiate Sue Plowright, the Australian Sex Party’s Christian Vega, Secular Party candidate Gregory Storer and Family First’s Daniel Emmerson.