As Australians prepare to vote on legalising same-sex marriage, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that ensuring marriage equality is a matter of fairness.
Turnbull confirmed his support for the “yes” vote in a speech at the launch of the NSW Liberals and Nationals For Yes group in Sydney on Sunday.
Australia’s Bureau of Statistics will start sending out forms from 12 September asking around 16 million registered Australians: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”
The prime minister defended the government’s decision to hold a survey on the issue, adding that he hopes that the “vote will succeed”.
He continued: “I am a supporter of same-sex marriage and I will be voting ‘yes’… and I will be encouraging other Australians to vote ‘yes’.”
Turnbull explained: “I’m voting ‘yes’ because fundamentally this is a question of fairness.” He also pointed out that there had been no negative consequences in the 23 countries that had already legalised same-sex marriage.
“In any one of those nations, has the sky fallen in? Has life as we know it come to a halt? Has traditional marriage as we know it been undermined? The answer is no,” he said.
Turnbull confirmed that if the public votes in favour of marriage equality, as expected, the government will present a bill in parliament in order to legalise same-sex marriage before the end of the year. He said that “it will sail through parliament”.
Sunday’s marriage equality rally in Sydney (Pic: Australian Marriage Equality)
The High Court last week dismissed two legal bids to halt the postal survey. LGBTQ organisations argue that human rights should never be put to a vote and that the government should have supported a same-sex marriage bill in parliament in the first place.
Activists fear that the non-binding survey will lead to a hostile and divisive campaign between supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage.
There have already been incidents of deeply homophobic and offensive material opposing marriage equality being distributed ahead of the vote, but the large majority of Australians are believed to back marriage equality.
On Sunday, around 40,000 people gathered in Sydney and Brisbane to show their support for the ‘yes’ campaign. The results of the vote are to be announced on 15 November.