Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he expected the public to support marriage equality in the so-called plebiscite, and that he personally would campaign for a “yes.” It would be only the fourth time in Australian history, and the first time in 43 years, that the government poses a legally nonbinding issue for the electorate.
“I have other calls in my time as prime minister, but I will certainly support a” yes “vote,” Turnbull told reporters.
The Conservative coalition led by the Liberal Party was re-elected in July 2016 with the promise of allowing voters to decide whether Australia should recognize same-sex marriage by popular vote. But the Senate in November blocked the plebiscite, which would cost $ 170 million ($ 135 million) and promote a divisive public debate.
The Liberal Party held a crisis meeting on Monday to resolve the internal struggles and rejected a push to allow lawmakers to decide the issue now.
The government on Tuesday supported the party’s decision to ask the Senate this week to reconsider the possibility of holding the referendum, to be held on November 25.
Voting would be mandatory and non-compliance with the vote would be punished with a fine, although a voluntary vote would be held if the Senate again rejected the measure.
The result would not be legally binding and some lawmakers have already stated that it would not influence their vote on legislation on homosexual marriages.
If most Australians want gay marriage, the Parliament would vote the legislation before the last two-week parliamentary session of the year ends on December 7.
“Strong leaders keep their promises, weak leaders break them,” Turnbull told reporters.
Gay rights advocates say lawmakers already support marriage equality for same-sex marriage to be legal in Australia now. For the first time in Australian history, both the prime minister and the opposition leader back the reform.
Rights advocates see the plebiscite as both a dilatory tactic enforced by a hard right minority and a strategy to undermine political support.
Opponents of the plebiscite argue that government-funded advertising campaigns for pros and cons would give rise to intolerant and homophobic arguments. Supporters say they would give voice to ordinary people in a debate dominated by activists.
If the Senate again blocks the plebiscite, the government intends to hold a voluntary postal plebiscite by November 15. Voters would send their opinions instead of using ballot boxes at a cost of up to AU $ 122 million. The responses would be voluntary and therefore less indicative of public opinion.
Opponents argue that the postal plebiscite would also need Senate approval, and have threatened a judicial appeal if it continues. Turnbull said he is confident that the postal option does not need Senate support.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, the vice president of the government and an opponent of same-sex marriage, said a type of plebiscite is essential if Parliament decides the issue of matrimonial equality.
Senator Nick Xenophon said the opposition of his minor party had not changed since they opposed the plebiscite in the November ballot.
Lyle Shelton, managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby, said his defense group had collected 55,000 signatures in a petition calling for a plebiscite.
Sheldon handed the petition to Senator Cory Bernardi, leader of the minor party of Australian Conservatives, to present to the Senate.
Bernardi has said he would vote against gay marriage regardless of what the plebiscite has found.happy wheels
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