After an agonising two and a half weeks waiting for a government to be formed, Australian same-sex marriage advocates say it’s now time for the re-appointed Labor Government to change its tune on gay marriage.
Australian Marriage Equality national convenor Alex Greenwich said the election showed the issue is important to Australians. He again called for both major parties to allow a conscience vote on the issue.
“It’s time to get on with the job of achieving equality,” he said.
Greenwich said he believes the issue of gay marriage had come into play in swaying voters in inner-city seats, including the seat of Melbourne won by the Greens’ Adam Bandt.
“Labor’s loss in seats like Melbourne in Victoria and Denison in Tasmania has been attributed to its stance against equality,” Greenwich said.
“The Labor Party will be foolish not to heed the obvious message [that] it faces an uphill battle to win back majority government as long as it opposes full legal equality for all Australians.”
The Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby responded favourably to the election result. Co-convenor Dr Anthony Bendall told Southern Star Observer the chance of moving ahead with federal GLBTI reform is better under a minority Labor Government than the Coalition.
“Given the necessity for the Government to work with Andrew Wilkie and Adam Bandt in the House and after July 1, 2011, the Greens in the Senate, the position may be better than it would have been had the ALP had been returned in its own right,” Bendall said.
Bendall said the Lobby would support a conscience vote on same-sex marriage.
“As neither the Government’s nor the Opposition’s party platforms are currently in favour of marriage equality, the only way such a bill will pass either House is for there to be a conscience vote,” he said.
“However, we do not blithely assume such a vote will necessarily or automatically guarantee success. All 150 members of the House and all 76 senators would need to be directly lobbied, which is a monumental task for groups like ours, made up of volunteers.”
ALSO Foundation CEO Crusader Hillis said the formation of a minority government offers rural people and the GLBTI community a chance to have their voices heard.
“It’s an opportunity for issues that have been ignored by the major parties really to come into focus and into the open for the first time,” Hillis said.
“They’re going to have to take seriously the point of view of rural people and, as well that, they’re going to have to take on board some of the policies of the Greens, so it’s a win-win for us.”
Hillis said anti-discrimination legislation, better mental health and aged care, better support for rainbow families and the implementation of recommendations in the Sex Files report are priorities for the community.