An openly lesbian British Labour Party MP has weighed in to defend Senator Penny Wong from criticism, despite being misinformed about the level of recognition given to same-sex couples in Australia.
Labour Member for Wallasey, Angela Eagle, told the UK’s DIVA magazine that Wong shouldn’t be expected to contradict her party’s policy, especially in the run-up to a federal election.
“People need to give her credit for the work that’s already been done,” Eagle said. “She needs to be given credit for what she’s done on civil partnerships.”
Australia, unlike the UK, does not have civil partnerships, which were introduced by the Labour Government in 2005.
Speaking of Wong’s performance on the ABC’s Q&A program last week, Eagle recalled meeting Wong some years ago.
“She seemed as dedicated to [gay and lesbian] legal rights as I was when I met her a few years ago and her record proves that,” Eagle said.
Eagle married her partner Maria Exall in a civil partnership in 2008. Were she to holiday in Australia that relationship would not be recognised at a federal level — only in the ACT.
All state relationship registry schemes refuse to recognise civil unions and same-sex marriages from other countries as registered relationships for the purpose of Australian law.
Meanwhile, Senator Wong is refusing to field any more questions on the subject of marriage equality.
Last week a media advisor for Wong told Southern Star not to bother directing questions on the issue to the senator. She also refused to answer questions on the subject from journalists in Perth while announcing two environmental projects.
Wong’s support for her party’s position opposing same-sex marriage resulted in 140 comments on the Sydney Star Observer website, with 80 percent of readers saying they would not vote Labor over the issue in an online poll.