Michael McCormack | AAP | 17151
As you may have read or heard, Australia has launched an official national postal referendum on the issue of gay marriage.
Government Minister Michael McCormack is in charge of the Australian Bureau of Statistics which is conducting the marriage survey and has apologised for previously denigrating gay people. He wrote a newspaper editorial in 1993 in which he said a week never went by “that homosexuals and their sordid behaviour don’t become further entrenched in society … Unfortunately gays are here and, if the disease their unnatural acts helped spread doesn’t wipe out humanity, they’re here to stay”.
Today Mr McCormack said he had grown and learnt not only to tolerate, but to accept all people regardless of their sexual orientation. “I apologised wholeheartedly for the comments at the time and many times since, but I am making this statement to unreservedly apologise again today. … I want all Australians to show each other the respect that they deserve and embrace the things that make us all unique.”
He said he would respect the final result “and vote accordingly in the parliament”.
Gay marriage could bring down the Australian coalition government of Malcolm Turnbull at the next election according to a new poll commissioned for P-FLAG which found that a quarter of Coalition voters could change their vote over the issue.
Twenty six per cent of Coalition voters said they would be likely to support a change in government if marriage equality laws were not dealt with before the next election.
Aanother 40 per cent said they would back a change in government over it.
Only ten per cent said they would be less likely to vote for a government that allowed a free vote on gay marriage.
Australia’s marriage equality bill specifies that ministers of religion would be able to refuse same-sex weddings because otherwise it risks creating a right to refuse weddings based on disability or race.
The Australian Attorney General’s department warned a Senate inquiry into the government’s same-sex marriage bill that removing a provision allowing ministers to refuse gay weddings could create a host of unintended consequences.
The bill contains a section that allows ministers of religion to refuse to solemnise a marriage that is not a union between a man and a woman.
LGBTI campaigner Rodney Croome said the application of other discrimination laws showed why service providers should not be able to refuse gay weddings because of a religious objection to same-sex relationships.
“If it’s true that religious marriage celebrants are not allowed to discriminate on the basis of race or disability, then it would be a clear double standard for the government to allow civil celebrants and faith-based businesses to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation,” he said.
Pauline Hanson (l) and Shan Ju Lin (r) | Uncredited | 17003
Australia’s One Nation political party founder has sacked Queensland candidate Shan Ju Lin for her anti-gay comments, saying she will not let people trash her or her party.
Ms Lin was dumped on Saturday night after Facebook posts appeared saying that “gays should be treated as patients” and “abnormal sex behaviour leads to abnormal crime”.
Ms Lin also mocked outgoing US President Barack Obama’s LGBTI policies using a digitally manipulated picture of him in drag.
Party leader Pauline Hanson suspended Ms Lin, a school teacher, on Friday night and warned her to stop the posts, but said the “disparaging comments” appeared again on Saturday night. “These are not the views shared by One Nation, nor the views of fellow candidates and the general public,” Senator Hanson said in a statement. I will not stand by and allow people to trash the party or my name, so I make no apologies for being tough on candidates.”
Ms Lin was unapologetic and retorted, “Once gays realise they can put pressure on a candidate, they will start to target other One Nation candidates also.”
As if we would.
The Australian government’s proposal to hold a national vote on legalising same-sex marriage has been defeated in the upper house of parliament.
Same-sex couples can have civil unions or registered relationships in most Australian states but they are not considered married under national law.
Opinion polls indicate that most Australians support same-sex marriage.
Opposition parties and many supporters of same-sex marriage argued a referendum would be expensive and could unleash a divisive campaign. Instead they decided that Parliament, not the people, should decide.
June 2016 | Saeed Khansaeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images | 16462ga
The Australian government’s plans for a vote to legalise same-sex marriage were cast in doubt after the opposition Labor party said it would not support the referendum over concerns it would lead to a rise in hate speech against gay people.
Labor leader Bill Shorten said today that Labor would oppose the enabling legislation needed to hold the vote. Marriage equality would then be delayed until after the next Australian general election, which is up to three years away.
Angela Brkic | AAP | 16439ga
Australia’s Victorian state Government has called on the federal government to end the ban on men who have sex with men from donating blood.
The Red Cross tests every donation but cannot detect HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C in the early weeks of infection.
According to the organisation, there has been just one case of HIV transmission via blood donation since testing began in 1985.
The risk of infection from a blood donation is less and one in 1 million.
State and federal ministers have agreed to review the national donation policy in 2017.
The Australian government says Labor is standing in the way of marriage equality after talks regarding the gay marriage plebiscite between Attorney General George Brandis and his Labor counterpart broke down.
Senator Brandis met with Labor’s Shadow Attorney General Mark Dreyfus and Shadow Assistant Minister for Equality Terri Butler today to discuss how Labor could be convinced to support the plebiscite enabling legislation in parliament.
A bomb threat was emailed to Australia’s only gay and lesbian radio station, a sign of just how divisive the debate over gay marriage has become, says the station’s president. Jed Gilbert took to the air this evening to reassure JOY listeners after a threatening email was sent to the station on Tuesday night.
The station managed to remain on air while the building in Melbourne was cleared by Victoria Police about 7pm. About 30 staff and volunteers were on site. The station also has more than 300 volunteers.
Josh Bavas/ABC | 16404ga
About 2,000 people have marched through Fortitude Valley to New Farm Park in inner Brisbane to support Queensland’s gay, lesbian and transgender community in the city’s annual Pride Day Festival.
Leading the way were state politicians including health minister Cameron Dick. Yes, really.
“Great to celebrate diversity and equality,” Health Minister Mr Dick said. “That’s what our party believes in and I’m pleased that our Government is trying to promote measures to increase diversity and also equality in Queensland.”