The Australian opposition has announced
it will block a proposed public vote on whether to legalize marriage
for gay and lesbian couples.
The government of Prime Minister
Malcolm Turnbull last month introduced legislation that would set up
a February 11 plebiscite, similar to a referendum. While the result
is non-binding, the government has said it will abide by what the
people say. The legislation sets aside 15 million Australian dollars
($11 million) to be divided up equality between supporters and
opponents of LGBT rights.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten said
Tuesday that Labor lawmakers would not support the plebiscite.
Shorten, who supports marriage
equality, said the plebiscite would trigger a divisive public debate
and that Parliament should decide the issue.
“This country does not have the right
in a plebiscite to pass judgment on the marriages and relationships
of some of our fellow Australians. It is not what Australia is
Turnbull called on the Labor Party to
support the bill “and give the people their say.”
LGBT rights activists applauded the
“That is a move that indeed reflects
the views of the gay and lesbian community who now want the debate
about a plebiscite put behind us,” Alex Greenwich, co-chair of
Australian Marriage Equality, told reporters.
support gay marriage but not public vote on issue.)