THE Federal Australian Greens have promised to block a motion in parliament to hold a national plebiscite on marriage equality.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale and the party’s LGBTI spokesperson Senator Janet Rice announced today the Greens would not vote for legislation enabling a plebiscite on same-sex marriage.

“Our party room have decided we will be voting against the marriage equality plebiscite no matter what form it takes because of the harm that it can potentially do to same-sex attracted and gender diverse Australian,” Rice told a media conference in Melbourne.

“The best way to achieve marriage equality, the quickest way, the way it should be done is to have a free vote in the parliament and we want to see that free vote to be brought upon as soon as possible.

“There’s a cross-party Bill that’s ready to be reintroduced in the House of Representatives, we’ve got a private members Bill we will be reintroducing into the Senate at the first opportunity.”

Rice said marriage equality could be achieved as early as next week after Parliament resumes as there were enough numbers of Senators and Members of Parliament who support marriage equality.

“We could have wedding bells in spring,” she said.

“That’s the way to achieve marriage equality. We have listened to the LGBTIQ community and they have told us overwhelmingly that they are opposed to a marriage equality plebiscite because of the harm it can potentially do.”

Advocates have praised the Greens for vowing to block the proposed plebiscite on marriage equality in parliament.
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) national spokesperson, Sharyn Faulkner said LGBTI children should not have to plead with millions of other Australians to have their fundamental rights recognised, while at the same time enduring hate and called on the Labor Party to follow in the footsteps of the Greens.
“Everyday Australian families like mine will be adversely affected by a plebiscite campaign and that’s why we want a free vote instead,” she said.
“I praise the Greens for doing the right thing by our children, our families and Australia. There is no such thing as a better plebiscite or a worse one, any plebiscite will cause harm.”
LGBTI community advocates have welcomed the Greens’ decision to vote against enabling legislation for a marriage equality plebiscite and have called on the Labor Party and cross bench senators to follow the Greens’ lead.
Just.equal spokesperson Ivan Hinton-Teoh, congratulated the Greens on prioritising the aspirations and interests of the LGBTI community.
“Earlier this month the largest LGBTI community survey of its kind ever conducted found the LGBTI community is united against a plebiscite with opposition running at 85 per cent,” he said.
“A key concern of LGBTI Australians is that a plebiscite will be a platform for hate and that it will not actually lead directly to marriage equality.
“I call on Labor and cross bench senators to follow the Greens’ lead so that a plebiscite is blocked and we can have a free vote in Parliament instead.”
Hinton-Teoh dismissed claims by Liberal MP, Trevor Evans, that LGBTI community representatives are more concerned with who takes credit for marriage equality than getting it done.
“Our concern is not which party achieves marriage equality but only to avoid plebiscite and have a free vote instead,” he said.
“We would be over the moon if the Coalition Government allowed a free vote and marriage equality was achieved under its watch.”
Earlier this week the co-chair of the Irish “Yes Equality” marriage equality referendum campaign, Dr Grainne Healy, wrote to all federal MPs and senators asking them not to support a plebiscite because the Irish referendum had been “brutal”.

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