Australian PM stymies gay marriage push, for now

Tony AbbottAustralian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Wednesday his government would remain opposed to gay marriage during the current parliament, but suggested the issue could be put to a popular vote after the next election.

Despite growing public support for same-sex marriage, with a poll last year finding those in favour of equal rights had reached a record high of 72 percent, Australia has not yet legalised marriage equality.

Abbott, a conservative who once trained to be a Catholic priest, called a late night press conference on Tuesday to reveal that a six-hour meeting of his Liberal/National coalition had come out against allowing MPs a free vote on gay marriage.

“We will maintain our existing position for the life of this parliament,” the prime minister told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. He said he was keeping faith with the electorate.

“But our disposition, going into the next election, should we win the next election, will be to put it to the people in the next term of parliament.”

A free vote, in which politicians voted according to their conscience, could have seen the reform passed if government politicians in favour of gay marriage had been allowed to side with opposition Labor and independent MPs to secure a majority.

Abbott said that same-sex marriage was something that had “only very recently come into our intellectual and cultural parameters, given that it’s really only this generation that has ever thought of this”.

“And frankly, prior to that, it would never have occurred to anyone in our culture and civilisation that marriage was not between a man and a woman,” he said.

“I can remember my own university debates with gay friends and the idea that the gay community would in those days have wanted to embrace a bourgeois institution like marriage would have been unthinkable, but things change.”

Same-sex couples can have civil unions or register their relationships in most states across Australia, but the government does not consider them married under national law.

Australia is accused of lagging behind a growing number of countries on marriage reform, highlighted by a recent US Supreme Court ruling to legalise same-sex marriage and Ireland voting for the unions in a referendum.

After the Irish vote in May, Abbott said Australia would not follow its lead and hold a referendum and added that any decision would be made by parliament.

The opposition said Abbott’s about-turn showed he was changing his mind as he went along, while the Sydney Morning Herald described the prime minister’s delaying tactics as “a desperate measure to hold back history”.

“If the Australian people want marriage equality they are going to have to divorce Tony Abbott at the next election,” Labor frontbencher Jason Clare said.

Labor leader Bill Shorten has pledged to legalise gay marriage if he wins the next election, due sometime next year, but said the party had not given up on marriage equality in the current parliament and would still debate the issue.

Government MP Warren Entsch, who is expected to bring a private member’s bill calling for gay marriage to parliament on Monday, said he believed a “handful” of coalition politicians would cross the floor to support the bill but conceded it would not have the numbers to succeed.

Abbott has given no details on how a public vote on gay marriage would occur or when but opposition leader Shorten said a plebiscite had not been held in Australia since 1976.

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  • Chief Ola

    The forces of evil worldwide overcoming the forces of good. The end is very close.

    • Patrick Van Der Ven

      Chief Ola the end is near only for the Abbot government.

    • Patrick Van Der Ven

      First of all greetings Chief Ola. Thank you for taking some of your time to speak to me. I am fully aware that corruption exists where there is the potential for some kind of gain. It does not matter what type of gain, but generally it is financial. I know your country has strident laws against homosexuality, in fact I am aware they carry the death penalty in states that apply sharia law. I know some 87% of your population is in favour of those laws. It is different here where 75% favour gay rights which are truly human rights, as people are born gay or straight. It is a sexual orientation over which no one has any choice akin to colour of your skin. South Africa legalised gay marriage and enshrined gay rights into their constitution back in 2005. We in Australia haven’t caught up yet. South Africa having lived under apartheid saw how wrong discrimination was and that is why the passed these anti-discrimanatory laws. The government will be punished at the ballot boxes.

    • Rev

      Chief we are living in strange times…

      • Chief Ola

        I agree with you.

  • Patrick Van Der Ven

    Mr Abbot’s action flies in the face of what the majority of Australians are in favour of: equal marriage rights for all couples. Mr Turnball said it succinctly this issue will carry forth into the next election, and I hardly think the Liberal Party wants to be seen as a party of bias and discrimination. They are already out of touch with ordinary Australians. Bromwyn Bishop has already had to stand down over a tax payers funding of a helicopter ride from Melbourne to Geelong which was to a party political fundraiser, and the treasurer Mr Hockey is in trouble for claiming a family holiday to Perth which cost 15,000. The end is near chief Ola, but for this morally corrupt government.

    • Chief Ola

      Unfortunately, corruption is not limited to a particular party because most politicians are corrupt. Some are just too smart to be caught. Also, the majority is not always right and if the gay community has everyone eating out of its hands now, evil will always be evil even when coated with Teflon and wrapped in “human rights” slogan.

    • D.M.S.

      The Pride of Equality will be one of the many DOWNFALLS of this world called Earth. PRIDE is a SIN.

      • Patrick Van Der Ven

        Equality is sinful? What are you even talking about? Everyone who is human deserves the same rights as everyone else. When you exclude rights from any group you create privilege in society. What are you going say next apartheid was good? Miscegenation laws, segregation and slavery is good. What?? Equality equals compassions and it is not pride.

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    • Rev

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  • Tani t’Olorun´╝č

    The nances are vilely gaining ground all over with the exception of Africa. It obviates any doubts that the end is here.
    May the good Lord have mercy on this world. C’est incroyable ce que le monde devient …ca rend dingue..

    • Patrick Van Der Ven

      Well Rien, here is some home truths the early Christian church has been waiting for the end since the death of Christ. Those living within that generation after his death based of Jesus’ address to the women of Jerusalem believed that the end was nigh. Just another failed prophecy Luke 23:27-30King James Version (KJV)

      27 And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him.

      28 But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.

      29 For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.

      30 Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. 2015 years and still waiting.

  • Ojiyovwi

    In a world struggling with war and violence, constantly raising issues of equality for perverts is a smokescreen to mask inaction and divertion from the culpability of the leaders to the ongoing world war – a war of fading idiological lives. Here in the UK, a former prime minister has been implicated in child sexual abuse and all we constantly have are delibrate effort by his friends to avoid the fallout. It is a shameless and shabby ill-disguised public fooling.

    • Patrick Van Der Ven

      If you are talking of Edward Heath, it is a fabrication.. What has come light is that Edward Heath was indeed a homosexual and acquired male prostitutes, but they were of age. That is from the madam who purveyed them for him. .What I would like to cite is the entrenched moral corruption of the churches in the United States, Ireland and Australia. I will cite the Australian Royal Commission into institutionalised abuse, not only has the Catholic church been found to have covered up paedophilia cases, but where they became aware of it they moved to priests to different dioceses where they kept offending. The Highest in the land cardinal Pell was called before that very commission. . Further it has been found to be in all religious organisations. We have had it cited a 1,000 instances within the Jehovah’s witnesses; Hillsong Evangelical church came up for major scrutiny where the leader of church Frank Houston molested boys. His son the now leader of the Hillsong church when he was made aware of it failed to inform the police and endeavour to demonise the victims, rather than help and heal. A wonderful example of hypocrisy if I say so myself. The blatant abuse of children has left the churches devoid of any moral authority at all. It happens far too often. Jesus was clear what should be done to people who rob children of their innocence they should be thrown into the sea with a large stone tied around their neck. I was recently checking human rights watch and Evangelical Protestant pastors in Nigeria: it quoted that bible thumping preacherss have accused girl of witchcraft as a ploy to gain more members for their churches and this has lead to a 1,000 girls being burnt over 10 year period as witches. I know Germany burned 30,000 but do you have to follow everything the West does?

  • albert bolten

    If we have to accept gay marriage, then we have to throw the Bible out, the two don’t seem to be in agreement.