Australians urged to vote 'yes' on marriage equality

By agency reporter
September 9, 2017

A vote on legalising same-sex marriage in Australia is to proceed after the High Court dismissed two legal challenges.

Naomi Vaughan, Amnesty International Australia's Marriage Equality Campaign Coordinator, said: "Marriage equality is a human rights issue. LGBTQI Australians have already waited too long for their loving unions to be treated with dignity and respect.

"Amnesty International Australia wanted a free vote in Parliament to usher in marriage equality in our country. However, now the High Court has ruled the postal survey will proceed, we call on all Australians who believe in fairness, in family, in equality and in love to make certain that they post their 'Yes' vote. And we encourage them to ensure that everyone they know does the same.

"Let's make 2017 the year the government finally reforms the Marriage Act so Australians can join more than one billion other people around the world living in countries that respect and protect marriage equality."

Surveys consistently show that at least two-thirds of Australian voters want marriage equality: 2/3 of Australians support marriage equality, 81 per cent of young Australians between18-24 years of age support marriage equality, Same-sex marriages are already recognised (but not performed) in Tasmania, Queensland and New South Wales.

After various political clashes, the Australian government is introducing a non-binding and non-compulsory 'postal survey' to measure the public's mood on the issue, to be carried out by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

It was planned that the ABS would post ballot papers to everyone on the electoral roll. However, 16- and 17-year-olds can also be on the electoral roll, and the government has fought to close this loophole for the purpose of the plebiscite. This is subject to a legal challenge by 17-year-old Cameron Warasta.

On the announcement of the plebiscite, there were 250,000 young people missing from the electoral roll. Amnesty, along with other groups, has campaigned for young people in particular to register to vote.

The postal plebiscite's legality has been contested in two hearings before the High Court which ruled in a 7-0 unanimous decision on  7 August 2017 that the postal survey could proceed, and as a result Amnesty is campaigning for a 'Yes' vote.

* Amnesty International https://www.amnesty.org.uk/

[Ekk/4]

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