Jim WilkinsonFormer Tasmanian Liberal-now independent candidate Hans Willink says he supports gay marriage in Tasmania, joining a chorus of pro-gay marriage candidates ahead of the May 4 Upper House election.

Willink told The Australian newspaper Friday that he would be standing for the seat of Nelson against its sitting member, independent Jim Wilkinson (pictured), who voted against the marriage equality bill last September.

“I do support marriage equality [for gays] because I’m not in the business of saving souls,” Willink said.

“Before there’s a role for government, you need to establish there’s a victim.

“If it makes them [gays] really happy and no one else suffers as a result, why would government stop them?”

The three Upper House seats that are up for election on May 4 are for the Nelson, Montgomery and Pembroke electorates.

Sitting members in all three seats opposed the marriage equality bill last year which lost by just two votes in the Upper House.

Australian Marriage Equality says all candidates have announced support for marriage equality except those endorsed by the Liberal Party.

AME national director Rodney Croome said Willink’s “socially progressive and fiscally conservative” position could be a game-changer.

“The fact that Hans Willink is an independent Liberal who openly supports marriage equality is a potential game changer in a seat like Nelson where there are many socially-progressive, pro-business voters,” Croome said.

“It is also a reminder that more Liberals would openly support this issue – because they value freedom and family – if only the Party abandoned its lock-step discipline on the issue and allowed a conscience vote.”

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