Introducing the marriage equality act, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten called for an end to discrimination against homosexual couples. With this, he became the first leader of an Australian political party to override a ban on gay marriages.
According to News.com.au, Shorten said in his speech, “Let us delay no more … let us make this a reality.
“This is a moment bigger than politics. It complements our hopes for the future.
“I don’t want us to wait any longer. We as the 44th parliament need to step up to rise to the moment. This can be a historic step forward.”
He further said that although he believes in God, he also supports same-sex marriages.
He said, “Millions of Australians have waited long enough for this moment of justice and inclusion.
“Let’s make 2015 the year where Australians embrace marriage equality. It is time.”
It was unfair for many homosexual couples to be denied marriage equality, he said. He also emphasized on the issues surrounding gay individuals in Australia, including an increasing number of suicides and self harm among the community.
He said, “Let’s help to switch on the light for same sex couples and take them out of the darkness.”
The bill was seconded by Shorten’s deputy Tanya Plibersek.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott, however, said that he was not in support of Labor’s offer on bipartisanship on the same-sex marriage equality bill. The prime minister further said that his government was giving more emphasis to the country’s economic and national security than on the marriage bill.
“I’ve made it very clear that while this is an important issue the government has an absolute focus right now on getting the budget measures through parliament,” Abbott said, according to The Australian.
Labor Senate leader Penny Wong, who among the lawmakers supports the bill, said that the debate regarding legalization of same sex-marriages in Australia was largely triggered by the referendum that saw a majority of the voters from Ireland voting in favor for a change in the constitution.
She said, “The legislation is an opportunity for Tony Abbott to do what the majority of Australians want, which is to allow a conscience vote on marriage equality. Mr Abbott needs to move on from his views, which are out of sync with most Australians. Regrettably our parliament has lagged our community on this issue.”
According to government figures, Sydney housed a majority of the almost 34,000 homosexual couples in the country in 2011. Since 1978, the city has hosted the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, and is also called the San Francisco of the South Pacific.
While Abbott has not given his party lawmakers a free vote on the issue, granting it does not guarantee that it will be passed.
Lyle Shelton, the Australian Christian Lobby’s managing director, opposes introducing a change in the law.
She said, “All we’re seeing is a handful of Anglo nations that have lost their philosophical moorings embark on a social experiment with potentially devastating consequences on the family unit. Saying that we’re backwards on this issue is an insult to our Asian and Islamic neighbors who will never embrace this.”
According to the Australian Marriage Equality organization, 75 lawmakers in the 150-member lower house support same-sex marriages, one short of the number required for the bill to pass, as reported by Bloomberg.
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