She may be Australia’s first female Prime Minister, but it is unlikely the change at the top will mean a change to Labor’s policy on same-sex marriage.
Quite simply, Julia Gillard has made it very clear she does not support same-sex marriage.
“Marriage is … between a man and a woman,” Gillard told Sky News in July last year on the eve of mass rallies around the country in support of same-sex marriage rights.
“I understand that this is an issue that we’ve got to deal with in contemporary Australian society with all of our history; hundreds of years of history in Australia and in western culture beyond about what marriage means.
“But we’ve said marriage is between a man and a woman. But we understand, I understand that there are other forms of committed adult relationships and that people want them registered and recognised. And we have obviously said in the past that we understand that there are schemes in states that are moving along to recognise committed adult relationships.”
Of course one could argue that Gillard was just towing the party line – and that may wash for some.
But in the same interview, when pushed on the possibility of civil unions, Gillard stood firm.
“This is a Government that said when we ran for office that we recognised marriage was between a man and a woman but we did want to act on all sorts of discrimination against same-sex couples. And we’ve done that,” Gillard said, referring to the 85 pieces of legislative discrimination removed in the government’s first year of office.
“Across the suite of what the government does, whether it’s tax or social security matters, we’ve moved to end discrimination of the treatment of same-sex couples.”
Some activists have privately confided to the Southern Star Observer that Gillard may well be the conduit of change within the ALP when it comes to furthering gay and lesbian rights – particularly those surrounding gay marriage – and may even move to legislate formal civil unions after she settles into the top job.
Of course that is just conjecture – and the proof will be in her performance.
What is pointedly clear, however, is that there is a definite mood of change with the ALP at all levels. And given the party is expected to lose power in most states as each one goes to the polls – particularly the Keneally Government in NSW – the change could well include a major woo to gay and lesbian voters.
Only time will tell.
Do you think Julia Gillard will do more for gay and lesbian rights now she is Prime Minister?
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