The number of people who have called for gay marriage to be legalised through a vote in the Australian parliament has increased.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s plan to hold a public plebiscite currently faces vocal opposition from LGBT rights groups and politicians alike. Earlier this month, the opposing Labor Party announced it would do all it could to block the introduction of a referendum on the issue. They said that minority rights should not be subject to public opinion and demanded that parliament simply legalise gay marriage outright.
While the Prime Minister still has support among his government, a Senator in the ruling coalition has broken ranks and joined in the calls for parliament to legislate same sex marriage directly. Liberal Senator Dean Smith is the first member of the coalition to call for such action.
Speaking to Sky News, Smith said it was “in the government’s interests to have the issue dealt with one way or another quickly”. Parliament has dealt with controversial issues in the past, he added, and this is “not the time and not the issue to experiment with plebiscites”.
The Senator from Western Australia said he would abstain from any vote on the referendum, but if he needed to act as a tie-breaker he would vote against it.
Meanwhile, advocacy groups Australian Marriage Equality and Australians for Equality have launched a new campaign aimed at securing a parliamentary vote. Anna Brown, co-chair of the latter group, said they hoped to “build on the momentum and energy generated across the nation for marriage equality” as they seek “a straightforward change to be achieved by a vote in the parliament”.