Labor’s by-election candidate Jennifer Kanis said she is upset by the community angst over her ‘how-to-vote’ cards but claims she never formally preferenced the Family First party above the Greens.

Kanis, an industrial relations lawyer and marriage equality supporter, has defended the layout of her election materials for this weekend’s state by-election of Melbourne.

Kanis said she had only organised preferences with Australian Democrats’ candidate David Collyer, Sex Party candidate Fiona Patten and Independents Dr Berhan Ahmed and David Nolte.

She said the remaining 11 candidates were randomly numbered which left Greens candidate and fellow councillor Cathy Oke placed at number 15, below Family First candidate Ashley Fenn at number seven.

“That’s just how the numbers fell,” Kanis told the Star Observer.

“One of our major things is that we want to make sure that the people who vote Labor have their vote counted.

“I’m personally disappointed the GLBTI community is getting the wrong message. I stand by the numbers as they appear on the how-to-vote cards but I think you’ve got to look at what actually happens.”

The Australian Democrats and the Sex Party, who are preferenced second and third respectively on Kanis’ how-to-vote card, support equal rights for the LGBTI community.

Kanis received backlash earlier this month when the Star Observer revealed Labor would preference Family First – overwhelmingly opposed to reforms for LGBTI people – ahead of the Greens in the seat.

Due to the preferential voting system used for lower house elections, preference votes will only be used if a candidate does not receive a 50 per cent majority of votes.

Only then will preferences be used from the bottom up, starting with the lowest polling candidates until someone is elected.

Kanis said her preferences were unlikely to even count since the election has come down to a battle between Labor and the Greens.

“Our priority is to have a Labor member in parliament so we can stop the Baillieu Government from what I think is a damage to Victoria,” she said.

“If you want to look in particular, in the GLBTI community, [Baillieu] is doing damage to the reforms the previous Labor government put in place.”

Last year, the Baillieu Government passed amendments making it easier for religious organisations to discriminate against gay, lesbian and transgender people in employment.

In June, a phone poll of 365 respondents showed Oke held a 54-46 lead over Kanis on a two-party preferred basis, media reported.

The Melbourne by-election will be held on Saturday July 21.

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