Melbourne Ports MP Michael Danby (pictured) continues to come under fire from marriage equality advocates and constituents for abstaining on last year’s gay marriage vote in the federal Parliament.
The Melbourne Ports electorate includes the suburbs of Southbank, South Melbourne, Albert Park, Balaclava, parts of Caulfield and St Kilda, where the annual Pride March is held.
The Labor MP was one of 10 Lower House members who did not vote on September 19. The marriage equality bill, introduced by Labor MP Stephen Jones, was voted down 98 to 42. Melbourne Ports resident Darren Tyrrell told the Star Observer he and his partner were very disappointed in Danby’s decision.
“I don’t think he wants to stick his neck out on it,” he said.
When Tyrrell met with Danby to discuss gay marriage last year, he said the MP was sympathetic but non-committal.
“He told us the Catholic Church had been lobbying him really hard, probably more than anyone else,” Tyrrell said.
“I’m disappointed because I always thought he was a politician who stood up for human rights, he stands up for people’s human rights overseas but he doesn’t do it in his own electorate.
“I think it’s a bit gutless to be honest.”
A spokesman for the Australian Marriage Equality Victorian branch said they would be working with Melbourne Ports residents to highlight Danby’s decision.
“Michael Danby has betrayed the voters of Melbourne Ports by saying he supports marriage equality but then not voting for it when he had the chance,” he said.
“Worse still, Danby’s abstention sends a negative message to other MPs who will look at him and think ‘if he can get away with not voting for this in such a progressive electorate then so can I’.” Some residents have taken to social media to highlight Danby’s move
Melbourne Ports resident Tony Pitman started a Facebook page called ‘Melbourne Ports residents for marriage equality’ late last year, hoping to stir some change.
“I think most people in the electorate had the impression that Michael Danby was a supporter of LGBT rights, so when he chose to abstain on the marriage equality vote, there was a lot of disappointment and anger,” Pitman said.
“Through the Facebook page, we hope to funnel that frustration into something constructive; organising campaigns to convince Michael Danby to vote yes next time around.”
Danby’s office did not comment in time for publication.