The Australian Labor Party’s LGBTI network, Rainbow Labor, says it will oppose any moves by Prime Minister Julia Gillard to allow a conscience vote on the issue of marriage equality.

The group today released its proposed amendments to the ALP’s national policy platform, calling for the party to change the Marriage Act to allow same-sex couples to marry.

Speaking on behalf of the group, Western Australian Senator Louise Pratt and Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Deputy Chief Minister Andrew Barr said a conscience vote would not be in line with Labor’s voting tradition.

“Rainbow Labor believes that a positive change to the platform is critical and consistent with both the wishes of ALP members as well as the Australian public.” the pair said in a statement.

Barr said Rainbow Labor’s views were being made in response to recent media coverage Gillard may call a conscience vote on the issue.

The Star Observer last month broke the news a senior federal ALP source claimed that Gillard was planning to announce she would allow a conscience vote in an effort to short-circuit debate at the ALP National Conference in Sydney in December.

Barr said the ALP has historically only permitted conscience votes on moral questions of life and death such as abortion and euthanasia.

“Rainbow Labor believes that matters of equality should not be the subject of a conscience vote,” Barr said.

Pratt backed Barr’s sentiments.

“Marriage equality is an opportunity that will lead to progress and equality for all members of society and is clearly not an issue of life and death,” she said.

“It is positive reform that will enable all adult members of society the opportunity to marry the person they love.”


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