The Australian non-binding plebiscite on marriage equality is finally coming to a close. Aussies have until this Tuesday, November 7, to mail in their ballots. The results will be posted the following week on November 15. While many polls show the “yes” vote leading, it might not be good news for Australian LGBTQ people. The Liberal Party has drawn up a bill to submit should “yes” win. However, conservatives are drafting up to 100 amendments to that bill undoing Australian anti-discrimination laws.
Tiernan Brady, head of the Equality Campaign, said “The No side have made it very clear that in the event of a Yes victory they will try to unravel existing anti-discrimination legislation. To single out gay people for discrimination is utterly disgraceful.”
The draft bill was written by Senator Dean Smith. Smith’s bill does include some exemptions; for example, it allows ministers to refuse to officiate same-sex marriages. Likewise, organizations with a clear religious purpose can also opt out. The bill, as it stands now, is popular with the Yes campaign and the Labor Party has also backed it.
Unfortunately, Conservative Party MPs have warned Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull they intend to add between 60 and 100 amendments to Smith’s bill. While so far Conservatives haven’t revealed what their amendments will be, conservative-leaning Liberal Party MP Ian Goodenough said “The focus will be in the area of preserving parental rights, freedom of speech, and institutional considerations such as curriculum in schools, access to reproductive technology, correctional facilities, et cetera.”
Goodenough is part of the group of MPs working to gut Australian anti-discrimination laws. Most MPs in the group are from the Conservative party, but Goodenough is also joined by fellow Liberal Party MP Andrew Hastie.
If the amendments go forward, many MPs who backed the Yes campaign could find themselves in the awkward position of having to vote against the marriage equality bill.
Featured image by RobertDodge via iStock