Australia’s High Court on Thursday ruled that a national postal vote to gauge public opinion on legalizing same-sex marriage could proceed as planned. The ballots are set to be mailed Sept 12.
LGBT advocates challenged the survey, asserting the unusual measure (it is not required by law, and its results are not binding on legislators) violated appropriations rules.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull advocated for the vote as a way to let “every Australian have their say” on an important social issue. But LGBT leaders argued Parliament should vote on the issue without an “unnecessary” postal vote.
“Fundamental rights should never be put to a popular vote,” said Elaine Pearson, the Australian director of Human Rights Watch.
Pro-family groups called the vote “a referendum on freedoms and radical LGBTQI sex education in schools.”
The Australian-based Coalition for Marriage is advocating for a no vote. Last week, the group released a national television ad featuring moms talking about compulsory LGBT school programs—boys being told they can wear dresses and children being asked to role-play same-sex relationships—arguing that in countries with legal gay marriage, parents lose their right to choose.
The group also warned that legal same-sex marriage would threaten religious freedom. While the government said it would ensure clergy members were not forced to officiate same-sex services, the coalition said everyday Australians remained at risk.
“Concerns about the impacts of the redefinition of marriage go far beyond the wedding ceremony or even the freedoms of wedding service providers like florists, bakers and photographers,” the group said on its website. It noted the effects of a change in law are also about “whether religious schools will be allowed to continue teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman, whether faith-based charities will retain their tax-exempt status, or whether religious organizations will be allowed to continue to hire people who agree to publicly support their ethos.”
Most major polls have found a majority of citizens plan to vote in the postal survey and a majority also support legalizing same-sex marriage. Results of the survey will be released Nov. 15, and the Australian Parliament plans to vote on the issue Dec. 7.
Courtesy: WORLD News Service
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: September 8, 2017